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When you think of the golden age of air travel, one of the first things that comes to mind is TWA. Trans World Airlines, once headed up by the visionary magnate Howard Hughes, was one of the classic airlines that made flying something to aspire to. And the TWA Flight Center at JFK designed by Eero Saarinen was something to marvel at. The Points Guy toured the Flight Center in an episode of TPGTV last year and was wowed.
After being closed in 2001, it was announced in 2015 that the TWA terminal would be renovated and that a 505-room hotel would be built on site, simply named the TWA Hotel. The Hotel will feature a 50,000-square feet conference center, 6 to 8 restaurants and a massive 10,000-square foot observation deck that will have views of JFK’s runways.
On Thursday the development company behind the construction unveiled its TWA lounge in Manhattan, meant to promote the hotel that’s slated to open by the end of 2018. Located on the 86th floor of the Freedom Tower, also known as One World Trade Center — the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere — the lounge resembles Saarinen’s iconic building and is full of fun throwbacks to TWA’s golden years.
The CEO of MCR Development and the brains behind the hotel’s construction, Tyler Morse, spoke at the inauguration, saying that MCR is “bringing the ethos of 1962 back to this building [the hotel].” He later added that “a lot of AvGeeks are going to get married there.” That’s probably right.
The lounge is a small space, and will be used for events. Which unfortunately means that it’s not open to the general public — but a spokeswoman for the lounge told us it “will be hosting special opportunities to visit the space, so stay tuned.” If you’re interested in seeing the space, you can try and schedule an appointment by sending an email to 1WTC@TWAHotel.com. Once the hotel is complete, the lounge will be turned into an office for the hotel’s sales team.
Once you get up to the 86th floor of World Trade Center One, you’ll walk down a hall and approach large sliding glass doors. When they open you’re in the lounge, and a large reception desk will appear, modeled after actual TWA ticket counters.
Right past the desk you’ll walk up a few steps to find the “sunken lounge” area that sports a working Solari split-flap departure board, complete with the signature clicks and clacks.
The red carpet of the lounge is actually colored the same Chili Pepper Red that Saarinen created for the TWA Flight Center.
Here’s a shot of the renovated terminal at JFK.
Off to the side there’s have a room with retro furniture and gadgets — and an incredible view of New York City.
There’s also a small room that’s basically a tiny museum with all types of relics from TWA. Once the hotel is complete all the items will be moved to an onsite museum at the property.
Old books, magazines and newspapers that focused on the terminal and airline are available to peruse.
Here’s the incredible view from the left side of the lounge. MCR Development chose this location because you can actually see aircraft taking off from the Bay Runway at JFK, although unfortunately I wasn’t able to get a shot of any. According to Morse, the TWA Lounge is “12 miles as the crow flies” to the airport.
TWA crew uniforms throughout the ages, from the early 1960s to more recent years. Some were designed by Balmain, Valentino and Ralph Lauren.
MCR Development was able to get a hold of some very rare artifacts. These uniforms are completely made of paper and from TWA’s 1968 Foreign Accents campaign. The four sets of paper clothes were hilariously dubbed French Cocktail, Rum and Toga, British Wench and Manhattan Penthouse Pajamas — names from an era when language was a little different from today’s.
Food and drinks at the event were served by “pilots” and “flight attendants”.
Here’s Tyler Morse speaking about the progress MCR has made building the property.
They unveiled a couple of new pictures showing the terminal restored to its former glory.
The sunken lounge strikes quite the contrast against the white concrete.
The TWA Flight Center has two levels with walkways that snake throughout the space.
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