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JFK's Landmark Airport Terminal Could Become a Hotel Lobby

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With his Terminal 5 for TWA at what was then called Idlewild Airport, midcentury master Eero Saarinen made soaring bird buildings cool when Santiago Calatrava was still using crayons. As the wrecking ball has come calling for other groovy jet-age buildings at JFK, landmark status has helped this one survive, even though it's been closed for 10 years and JetBlue built a brand new Terminal 5 right behind it. There was once talk that JetBlue would use Saarinen's building (where parts of Catch Me If You Can were filmed) as a grand entrance for its new terminal, but the Port Authority has come up with a new use for this outdated modern masterpiece: A lobby for a high-end boutique hotel. Because nothing says luxurious getaway like an endless stream of airplanes buzzing overhead.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the Port Authority?which put $20 million into fixing up the '60s icon in 2008?has issued a request for qualifications in hopes of finding a developer to build the hotel. The 150 rooms would be built in the space between the old T5 (technically the Trans World Airlines Flight Center) and JetBlue's new one, with Saarinen's building containing the lobby, restaurant and shops. Said the PA's Chris Ward, "You can have perhaps the hippest, coolest-looking front office to a boutique hotel that serves a very special and unique air traveling market." A fascinating idea, but will a developer bite? Pictured below is the old Terminal 5 (the stealth-bomber-looking-thing) with JetBlue's building right on its tush. That's not a lot of room to work with.

· Hotel Plan Set for Ghost Terminal [WSJ]