Saturday, April 22, 2006

TWA Terminal -Eero Saarinen, 1962

Talking of airline terminals, as I was earlier today, made me think about posting some pictures of Eero Saarinen's beautifully expressionistic 1962 TWA Terminal, designed to express the new age of jet travel back when that age was in its very infancy, and and which has been long outgrown by developments since. As architect Stephanie Stubbs said about the building when renovations began being planned a few years back:
Saarinen's TWA Terminal—the great, swooping concrete bird—captured the essence of flight poised on the threshold of the Jet Age. It is fitting that all efforts be made to preserve its beauty for us, and for future generations. However, it is apparent that the building just cannot function as an airline terminal anymore.
The proposals shown here with the original terminal building at its center give just a small idea of how much jet travel has changed in forty-odd years, and how flexible and easily-altered the modern airline building needs to be. And just see what else has changed, based on present requirements:
...the Port Authority [the present owner] does not feel the whole building can be a modern terminal with "no room for curbside check-in, no way to move baggage efficiently through the building and no place to put security equipment like bulky explosive-detecting devices...the gently arched tubular bridges do not meet modern requirements for people with disabilities." But PA does say it could become an airport centerpiece, pending the future AirTain system, as well as a place for the aiport's employees.
Sadly, Saarinen's terminal seemed to express and to fit the new age of jet travel so well that when jet travel moved onwards and upwards, the building couldn't. Even by the early seventies as bureaucracy took over the traveller, surveys suggested that Saarinen's terminal was often cited as the one that causing frequent flyers the most dissatisfaction. The reason? The building itself gave such a magnificent feeling of being up-up-and-away to the traveller who was faced instead with delays and paperwork on the ground -- all the hassles and problems associated with modern jet travel - that the contrast proved too much for too many, and too frustrating for most.

LINKS: Saarinen's TWA Terminal and the moment of truth - AIArchitect (Sept, 2001)
Saarinen's beloved TWA Terminal and air travel for the future: can this marriage be saved? - AIArchitect - AIArchitect (Sept, 2001)
Saarinen's TWA Terminal to reopen? - The Gothamist (Oct, 2003)
3d Visuals - JonSeagull.Com

TAGS: Architecture, History-Twentieth_Century

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