Moved Once, Saarinen's TWA Trumpet To Fall


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Eero Saarinen's TWA trumpet connected the now-demolished flightwings.

Credit: JetBlue

Plans to save a unique section of Eero Saarinen's TWA terminal at John F. Kennedy International Airport have stalled on the runway.

The New York State Historic Preservation Office, and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, have approved JetBlue Airways' plan to demolish a 5,000-square-foot departure lounge known as "the trumpet." JetBlue demolished the other lounges and flight wings three years ago to make way for a new terminal, while retaining the iconic 1962 main terminal for future restoration.

JetBlue's decision was a surprise to some preservation groups, who met with JetBlue last year to discuss renovating the trumpet, which the Port Authority paid $895,000 to relocate last April.

"We think it's a stupid, stupid move," says Frank Sanchis, senior vice president of the Municipal Art Society, a New York-based preservation group that is part of the 15-member Redevelopment Advisory Committee, formed in 2003 to consult with JetBlue. "We've called on the [federal] Advisory Council to intervene ... the Section 106 process was not appropriately followed here."


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The famous section of Saarinen's TWA terminal, the "head house," will be renovated.

Credit: National Trust for Historic Preservation

Others are willing to accept as inevitable the loss of the trumpet as long as Port Authority moves forward with plans to renovate the "head house," or main terminal.

"It sounds like it has to happen," says Peg Breen, president of the New York Landmarks Conservancy. "We tried the move; it isn't working for JetBlue, and the money really needs to be put into the head house if we're going to find alternative uses for that building. We agree that that is the best use for the money."

Restoring the trumpet would have cost about $1.2 million, Breen says.

Now the challenge is to find a new use for the head house. Proposals include a conference center, an aviation museum, or a restaurant.

Read about Saarinen's other 1962 terminal, Dulles International Airport >> 

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Submitted by Build at: March 4, 2011
Who do I send my proposal to for your build out? Would welcome the opportunity. DAJC320@MSN.COM

Submitted by David Welborn at: May 4, 2010
Oh Please! You guys it is so obvious that the building MUST be maintained as a time capsule to it original period! Let me do it! All furnishings must be in period. For example, (just a small example) any and all chairs MUST be something like the Herman Miller style. Look at the art work by Shag. That is what I mean. No museum please. USE the building! Conference center "with" restaurant makes sense. Also make as an extension to Museum of Modern Art. Feel free to contact me for suggestions or ideas:

Submitted by docomomo at: February 16, 2010
There was a tour of the building in January 2010. The port authority is restoring terminal 5 and is looking for a tenant to take lease the space - perhaps as a museum. They are doing everything to preserve the original character and materials.

Submitted by finklea at: April 10, 2009
You can access the old terminal building from the baggage level in the new Jet Blue Terminal. The old walkway tubes connect to it. I snuck in after a flight from Bermuda. There is a set of glass doors & a stairwell you can climb up into each tube. This is located at either end of the baggage level. There are no signs pointing them out, you have to hunt for them a bit. No signs saying closed or authorized personnell only, so I walked through. The tubes themselves are failry orange red to them. There is plastic and construction tarping all over the place. Not the bright white you see in "Catch me in you can". Didn't make it all the way to the other side and into the old girlfriend was telling at me to get out. Probably fearful of a cop showing up.

Submitted by SPage at: February 18, 2009
I can't seem to find out from all the articles I've read on the Internet whether Terminal 5 is open yet or not, and what the photos on JetBlue's site refer to. It looks as it they have cut off everything except the central "winged" triangle and as if they have gutted the inside too to make way for that huge curved check-in counter visible on their site. Are those wonderful soaring shapes and levels in Saarinen's original inside still existent or not? What is the precise situation today, in February 2009?

Submitted by MHDoescherjr at: August 18, 2008
I just saw a special on Discovery about "the Trumpet." All the work that has been put into saving it, wasted? What good are these governing, protecting, architectural bodies if they can't protect architectural works such as this. The whole space was outstanding. JetBlue has lost interest. The economy is surely having an effect here. The PortAuthority should've just pulled the plans all together. It would've been better to let the building sit unused than to watch them tear it down to build some "post-post-modern" glass terminal expansion to fit the next biggest jet to use more oil-based fuel we don't have. I thought these structures were protected?

Submitted by Storyteller312 at: April 13, 2008
After all these years, meetings, committees and alleged experts, this is the final outcome? How very sad to watch the dismemberment of Saarinen's architectural masterpiece. Apparently, JetBlue honors neither the commitment to their passengers nor the people of New York.

Submitted by Rich S. at: April 3, 2008
This is a travesity. What happened to the public participation in this process? Or, why did the SHPO step in to assist? I understand that much of the terminal has been demolished, but if the original agreement wasn't followed, then this is not good.

Submitted by Anna'sDad at: March 27, 2008
LOVE that building, great story.Cool to see Saarinen's work outside Dulles. Thanks "Preservation"