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Columbia University Digital Knowledge Ventures The Architecture and Development of New York City with Andrew S. Dolkart
image The Public Realm Smaller Scale Buildings
TWA Terminal
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Smaller Scale Buildings
TWA Terminal
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There was, during this period, though, not only an interest in the classic Bauhaus modernism, but other kinds of modern ideas also begin to come to the fore. A lot of them in institutional buildings, in this case a more commercial but also somewhat civic structure, the TWA terminal at the city's great airport, at what was then Idlewild Airport, now Kennedy Airport. TWA commissioned the great architect Eero Saarinen to design a new terminal, and Saarinen, taking the new technologies of concrete and designing a spectacularly carefully planned engineering feat to design an airline terminal that looked like an airline terminal should. It looks like it's about to take off; it looks like a giant bird. And it uses the new technologies of concrete in an extraordinarily expressive manner to create the drama of this terminal, with the head of the bird as the sort of canopy under which you go before you go inside, and light streaming in. And this was designed in the late 1950s. It was begun in 1957—just at the beginning of jet travel—and more than any other building came to symbolize the romance of the jet age at Kennedy Airport.

Unfortunately, as airline travel has changed over the decades, the building became increasingly busy, increasingly altered, and increasingly obsolete.


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