Saarinen's TWA Trumpet To Fall

Posted on: March 27th, 2008 by Margaret Foster

Saarinen’s TWA “trumpet” connected the now-lost terminals.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 oppose the decision to demolish the trumpet. It would waste $900,000 already invested in moving it, and would reverse an earlier consensus decision to preserve it." 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. "It seems inconceivable that the Port Authority won't allocate just one percent of the $875 million terminal budget in order to preserve the trumpet."

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.

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Preservation Magazine