Right now, a team of digital scanning whizzes is back in their Florida lab, making a digital 3D model of the TWA Flight Center. Last week, while the staff and their equipment were hard at work recording every curve, bend, window, and facade of Eero Saarinen's 1962 terminal at John F. Kennedy International Airport, photographer Max Touhey was granted access. That much free time inside the historic, beloved landmark is hard to come by—especially with a camera in hand—given that it has been off limits to the public since 2001 and is set to undergo redevelopment into a boutique hotel.
More coverage of the TWA Terminal:
Capturing JFK's Space-Age TWA Terminal Before It's Redeveloped
JetBlue May Turn Eero Saarinen's TWA Terminal Into a Hotel
Fly Back and See Eero Saarinen's TWA Terminal in Its Prime
The TWA Flight Center holds significance as a building for several reasons. As a work of architecture, the terminal has the distinction of being legendary architect Saarinen's last building, as it was completed posthumously in 1962.
That rare freedom for travelers to explore was also observed by Lori Walters, one of the researchers on the scanning team, though she made note of it in contrast to earlier decades, in which flying was reserved for the wealthy.
The opening of the TWA Flight Center in all its jet-age splendor marked a shift in the history of air travel in which middle-class Americans could now afford to fly. Clearly, the terminal's heyday coincided with the golden age of flying, in which travelers were restricted neither by economic class nor security concerns.
Finally, the TWA terminal is significant to historical preservationists, as the journey to its 2003 landmarking was deemed one of the nation's most inspiring preservation stories. In many ways, Walters and ChronoPoints's scanning and education project is a continuation of that dedication to preserving and remembering the building in some form.
It's a special place for architecture and midcentury design loversand photographers. Touhey said of his experience shooting:
At this point, it's still unclear how the terminal may change once it is converted into a hotel.
What's promising is that many of the building's interior features will likely be kept for their charm and their existing uses on the hospitality front. Still, it will never be entirely the same as it is right now.
Thus, in an effort to commemorate the building, here is the most in-depth photo tour yet of the terminal. That's 98 images plus a hyperlapse video.
Exploring Eero Saarinen's jet-age flight center at JFK Airport before it's redeveloped.
Note the signage, the food court and bar, the shoe-shine area, and more. And enjoy!
Wesley Yiin and Hana R. Alberts
· All TWA Terminal coverage [Curbed]