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And its developers, MCR/Morse Development, are intent on creating an entire experience pegged to that specific year–a zeitgeist-defining time, CEO Tyler Morse said, embodying an optimistic moment in American innovation and design. Both the interiors and exteriors of the iconic structure were deemed a New York City Landmark in 1994, and joined the National Register of Historic Places in 2005, but had long sat vacant in disuse since 2002, when the once-major airline filed for bankruptcy and was acquired by American Airlines.

For its effort, MCR is the developer and lead investor for a massive public-private partnership with JetBlue (currently the sole airline at Terminal 5), and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

At a preview of the hotel’s interior design this week, still under construction ahead of the spring 2019 launch, flight attendants in vintage mini-dress uniforms and pilots in aviator sunglasses greeted guests with trays of retro candies and sweets: sleeves of Necco wafers, boxes of Good & Plenty, Sugar Daddy lollipops, candy cigarettes, and cans of Tab soda, which, if you can believe, was short for “Totally Artificial Beverage,” says Morse–a scientific triumph itself, brought to you by food chemists, that was then heartily embraced. It was a surprisingly convenient metaphor for the way midcentury modernism has been mined and repackaged for contemporary consumers, featuring only the sweetest parts.

[Photo: Celine Grouard for Fast Company]

The Excitement Of Travel, Revisited

When he completed the gull-wing-shaped terminal in 1962, Saarinen had said he intended to “express the drama and excitement of travel.” Once restored, MCR hopes the TWA Hotel will conjure an experience for a time when air travel was still a luxurious novelty (instead of, you know, a crowded, subpar commute in which you can get dragged off a plane for sitting in a double-booked seat, at no fault of your own). To that end, MCR is doubling down on  the project’s greatest asset–Saarinen’s architectural jewel, the swooping, aviary shell-concrete headhouse of the original TWA Flight Center–by recreating it down to the smallest details.

The TWA Hotel project recalls another of Saarinen’s designs, the former U.S. Embassy in London, which is currently being refurbished by architect David Chipperfield into the 137-room Mayfair Hotel. Could hospitality be the monied answer to breathing new life into historic structures? Here, the developers are less concerned with the new than with the old. Bright red carpet, inspired by the terminal’s original interiors and branding, will line the main hall and iconic flight tubes–made famous in the 2002 movie Catch Me If You Can–that will connect to either of the two newly constructed hotel wings.

“We envisioned a refined guest experience in dialogue with Saarinen’s masterpiece, a serene refuge from which to enjoy views onto one of the busiest airports in the world,” said Michael Suomi, principal at Stonehill Taylor, the firm that designed the guest rooms, by statement. “Ultimately, we wanted the TWA room to help create the level of excitement for and pride in aviation that travelers once felt during the rise of the industry.”

Source :

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