Governor Andrew M. Cuomo together with New York-based hotel investment firm MCR, the seventh-largest hotel owner-operator in the U.S., broke ground today on the widely-lauded conversion plan to rehabilitate the legendary TWA Flight Center at JFK International Airport into a world-class 505-room hotel. Closed to the public since 2001, Eero Saarinen’s internationally-revered Midcentury Modern landmark will be ushered into a new life, mirroring its 1962 design aesthetic and delivering an on-site airport hotel to New York’s premier international gateway.
“JFK Airport is one of largest international transit hubs in the world and a key driver of New York’s economy,” Governor Cuomo said. “The conversion of the TWA Flight Center into a new state-of-the-art hotel will preserve this iconic landmark while cementing JFK’s status as a crown jewel of aviation. This groundbreaking builds on our efforts to modernize gateways across the state and we will continue working to drive growth, support thriving regional economies and build 21st-century infrastructure of the caliber that New York deserves.”
Handling over 56 million passengers a year, JFK International Airport serves as the region’s international gateway to the United States. Rehabilitating the TWA Flight Center as JFK’s first on-site, full-service hotel will provide a game-changing 21st-century amenity for travelers from across the country and worldwide.
“The passion for this incredible building and the outpouring of support for our plan to preserve Saarinen’s masterpiece and permanently reopen it to the public as a 500-room hotel has been astounding,” said Tyler Morse, CEO of MCR Development, the New York-based hotel investment firm responsible for the TWA Flight Center redevelopment plan. “We are proud to play a part in Governor Cuomo’s plan to revitalize our region’s airports and we are excited to get to work as we breathe new life into one of the most important buildings in America.”
MCR Development’s conversion and rehabilitation plan, which navigated through 22 federal, state, and city agencies, will revive this world-famous Midcentury landmark to its 1962 glory through an approximately $265 million privately funded investment. Painstaking restoration plans include reviving and rehabilitating the Terminal’s iconic interiors by Charles Eames, Raymond Loewy, and Warren Platner. The project will also include an innovative museum showcasing New York as the birthplace of the Jet Age, the storied history of Trans World Airlines and the Midcentury Modern design movement.
Featuring LEED design, two hotel structures housing the 505 rooms will be set back on either side of the terminal, situated and designed to defer to the historic landmark. Hotel guests and passengers from every terminal will be able to reach the TWA Hotel via the AirTrain as well as through the iconic Saarinen passenger tubes that connect directly to Terminal 5. Creating 3,700 permanent and construction union jobs, the hotel will contain 40,000 square feet of meeting and event space, a 10,000 square foot observation deck where guests can watch planes take off and land, and eight food and beverage outlets including the revived Ambassador’s Club, Lisbon Lounge and Paris Cafe. Managed by Turner Construction Company, construction is expected to be complete in 2018.
“We are thrilled to see the historic TWA Flight Center site come back to life and in such a special way with all the nods to the excitement of the jet age,” said Robin Hayes, President and Chief Executive Officer of JetBlue. “JetBlue is proud to partner with MCR Development as they offer our customers the perfect place to enjoy an evening before an early morning JetBlue flight to one of our 100 destinations. The debut of the TWA Hotel is great news for the Queens community and the growing number of travelers who pass through Kennedy Airport each year.”
“Famed architect Eero Saarinen’s futuristic TWA Flight Center at John F. Kennedy International Airport set the mid-20th century jet-age standard for terminal design, and MCR’s plans to remake the terminal through adaptive-reuse into an on-airport hotel will provide an amenity that travelers have come to expect from modern 21st-century gateway airports,’’ said Port Authority Executive Director Pat Foye. “The Port Authority appreciates Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s steadfast vision and support to remake New York’s airports into state-of-the-art gateways for national and international travelers.”
“For decades, the TWA Flight Center served as a gateway to our city for people from around the globe. Today we are breathing new life into this landmark building, so it can welcome future generations of visitors,” said NYCEDC President Maria Torres-Springer. “The creation of this hotel serves as another milestone in the rejuvenation of JFK Airport, and it will complement major investments that Mayor de Blasio and others are making in neighborhoods throughout Southeast Queens, such as Downtown Far Rockaway and Jamaica. The de Blasio Administration is proud to have worked with MCR, Borough President Katz, and community leaders to help make this exciting project a reality.”
“JFK Airport’s new iconic TWA Flight Center Hotel is an invaluable investment in the borough of Queens and will offer a unique experience for international visitors and New Yorkers alike,” said Melinda Katz, Queens Borough President. “The magic of the Jet Age can now be relived in one of the world’s most famous mid-century icons. We look forward to welcoming the project’s 3,700 permanent and construction jobs and having Queens residents take part in the revitalization of Eero Saarinen’s architectural masterpiece.”
“On behalf of our 32,000 members, we look forward to the completion of the TWA Flight Center, which will be a boon to the city’s hospitality industry and its workers once it’s transformed into a first-class hotel,” said Peter Ward, President of the New York Hotel & Motel Trades Council, AFL-CIO. “New Yorkers are ready to get to work at this iconic piece of New York City history.”
“The TWA Flight Center will provide visitors to New York with a new first-rate hotel and museum, as well as provide construction workers with opportunities for jobs with good wages, health insurance and retirement security,” said Gary LaBarbera, president of the Buildings and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York. “We look forward to the repurposing of this iconic symbol in aviation history.”
“The New York Building Congress enthusiastically supports the adaptive reuse of the TWA Flight Center,” said Richard T. Anderson, President of the New York Building Congress. “The redevelopment of that space into an on-airport hotel will rectify a major deficiency at JFK, create thousands of jobs, and re-introduce one of the world’s most iconic structures to a new generation of New Yorkers and visitors from around the globe.”
“Projects like the new TWA Hotel ensure that New York City continues to grow and thrive,” said John Banks, President of the Real Estate Board of New York. “This state-of-the-art hotel will maintain an architectural gem, honor our aviation history and keep New York on the cutting edge of preservation-sensitive development necessary for growth and economic success.”
“First-class hotels are a hallmark of a 21st-century airport, and for too long JFK has been among the very few major airports in the country without this amenity,” said Joe Sitt, Chairman and Founder of the Global Gateway Alliance. “The new hotel at the former TWA Flight Center will not only fix this problem and bring JFK on par with our competitors; it will also reopen the iconic structure to both New Yorkers and the millions of passengers who pass through the airport every year.”
“We applaud both the rehabilitation of the TWA Flight Center and the project’s commitment to employing local Queens residents,” said Thomas J. Grech, Executive Director, Queens Chamber of Commerce. “This visionary project will provide thousands with good jobs and ensure JFK Airport remains economically competitive for years to come.”
“The revitalization of the TWA Flight Center shows that New York can at once pay homage to its history and lead the world in first-class development,” said Bill Rudin, Chair of the Association for a Better New York. “This redevelopment is also an important step in ensuring that our transportation hubs are equipped for the 21st century traveler’s needs. JFK airport workers, New York City residents and the millions of tourists passing through the transit hub every year will be able to benefit from this innovative hotel and event space.”
“The Terminal 4 Airlines Consortium is thrilled that TWA Flight Center is poised to serve as the home of JFK’s first full-service hotel, a significant asset to the entire airport and the public,” said Terminal 4 Airlines Consortium Executive Director Francis A. DiMola. “We look forward to MCR adding new restaurants, museum space and an observation deck to the space, which will enliven this historic structure and advance JFK as a world-class gateway.”
“KAAMCO looks forward to TWA Flight Center hosting a 500-room hotel for airport passengers and visitors to New York,” said Kennedy Airport Airlines Management Council President Ajay Dhawan. “These hotel rooms, as well as the conference facilities, retail and restaurants that will be on site at the celebrate property, will ensure that JFK remains a world-class airport.”
“The rich history of TWA and its employees is a beloved piece of our heritage and one that all 100,000 American Airlines employees are very proud of,” said Mike Minerva, Vice President of Government and Airport Affairs for American Airlines. “We are honored to be playing such a critical role in the development and planning for the TWA Hotel and are thrilled that the proud name of TWA will continue to live on in such an iconic way for generations to come.”
“Since its debut more than five decades ago, the TWA Flight Center at JFK has been among the most admired buildings in modern architecture and a symbol of the golden age of travel. The redevelopment efforts will maintain the structure’s heritage while enriching the passenger experience, enhancing the airport’s infrastructure and adding to the ongoing development of one of the world’s busiest gateways–something Lufthansa as a managing partner of JFK’s Terminal One can only welcome,” said Juergen Siebenrock, Lufthansa German Airlines, Vice President, The Americas.
“KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, the oldest commercial airlines in the world and a pioneer in aviation, is delighted to welcome a world-class hotel with first class amenities to JFK Airport,” said Ajay Dhawan, station manager for KLM Royal Dutch Airlines at JFK. “We are a company that flies to 133 international destinations in 66 countries, and quality lodging for our customers remains critical to us. We are confident that our passengers will take advantage of this facility that will make international travel even easier.”
“Rehabilitating the TWA Flight Center into a full-service hotel with world-class meeting and dining space will create a significant amenity for our customers traveling to New York from around the world,” said Hubert Frach, Emirates Divisional Senior Vice President, Commercial Operations, West. “We are excited to see such a visionary development come to JFK Airport.”
“We are looking forward to this iconic terminal opening into a boutique hotel,” said Anji Undru, manager at JFK Airport for Air India. “This will definitely be a proud moment for everyone at JFK Airport.”
“China Airlines wholeheartedly supports turning the TWA Flight Center into a hotel,” said Peter Wen, station manager for China Airlines at JFK Airport. “We look forward to having these accommodations on-site, which will ease our passengers’ traveling experience and provide an amenity that has long been missing from JFK.”
“As JetBlue’s newest codeshare partner operating out of Terminal 5, TAP is very excited to see the new hotel come to life at Eero Saarinen’s beautiful and historic terminal,” said Fernando Pinto, CEO of TAP Portugal. “And we know our customers will be thrilled to stay at the property in this magnificent architectural destination!”
The TWA Flight Center opened to critical acclaim in 1962, a year after Saarinen’s death, and served as TWA’s terminal at JFK International Airport until 2001, when it was no longer able to support modern aircrafts. In 1994, the City of New York designated the terminal a historic landmark and in 2005 the National Park Service listed the TWA Flight Center on the National Register of Historic Places.