living a well tended life... at any age

nyc-etc: twa lounge

If you’ve been reading this blog for some time, then you know my love of all things mid-century modern.

But what you may not know is that I am equally smitten with the early days of airline travel.

From the flight attendants’ uniforms, to the travel posters, to the architecture and interiors, the 1960’s “Jet Age” holds no end of fascination (and adoration) for me.

So you could imagine my excitement upon learning of a major renovation taking place here in New York, transforming the iconic TWA terminal at JFK airport into a luxury hotel.

This mid-century modern masterpiece – opened in 1962 and designated a landmark in 1994 – was designed by one of my heroes, Finnish architect Eero Saarinen. And though I have vague memories of being in the terminal as a young girl, it closed in 2001 before I had a chance to really appreciate it as an adult.

And I’ve been pining away ever since.

The hotel is set to open sometime in 2019 (and I’m sure will be booked solid for the foreseeable future). But the developers have opened a lounge on the 86th floor of One World Trade Center, offering a glimpse of what’s to come.

“We’ve brought the glamour of the Jet Age to the 86th floor of the World Trade Center”.

And did they ever.

TWA Lounge l sherisilver.com

I spent a heavenly morning there recently, with 2 equally design-obsessed pals. Kari was my partner-in-crime for my tour of mid-century modern homes, when I was in Palm Springs a few years ago. And James is one of my dearest friends, along with being a talented architect and designer himself.

The space (designed by Lubrano Ciavarra Architects) is STUNNING, designed down to the last detail to replicate the experience of being in the original building. In fact, the 86th floor spot was specifically chosen to allow (conditions permitting) a view of Kennedy Airport.

TWA Lounge l sherisilver.com

Upon entering the lounge, you’re immediately greeted by a large reception desk modeled after the original TWA ticket counters.

TWA Lounge l sherisilver.com

Right behind is a sunken lounge, where the seating and carpet are the signature Chili Pepper Red used in the original space (the carpet is an actual remnant). Ann Sacks penny tile (designed according to Saarinen’s exact specifications) covers the floor and backrests, and original travel prints by graphic designer David Klein adorn the walls.

TWA Lounge l sherisilver.com

 

TWA Lounge l sherisilver.com

TWA Lounge l sherisilver.com

TWA Lounge l sherisilver.com

TWA Lounge l sherisilver.com

TWA Lounge l sherisilver.com

A highlight was the specially-created Solari split-flap board with TWA destinations (and classic “clack-clack” sound).

TWA Lounge l sherisilver.com

Off to the sides are meeting and display rooms containing a plethora of amazing memorabilia. There was the original model of the terminal:

TWA Lounge l sherisilver.com

Along with vintage magazines, toiletries, china, typewriters and more:

TWA Lounge l sherisilver.com

TWA Lounge l sherisilver.com

TWA Lounge l sherisilver.com

TWA Lounge l sherisilver.com

TWA Lounge l sherisilver.com

And OMG crew uniforms, including designs by Balmain, Valentino and Ralph Lauren.

TWA Lounge l sherisilver.com

image credit: Kari Adams


TWA Lounge l sherisilver.com

image credit: Kari Adams

TWA Lounge l sherisilver.com

The developers acquired a short-lived collection of paper uniforms, designed for the airline’s 1968 “Foreign Accents” campaign. Short-lived because the uniforms were one-size-fits-all, prone to tearing, and – yes – flammable.

TWA Lounge l sherisilver.com

TWA Lounge l sherisilver.com

And they had names, too: “French Cocktail”, “British Wench”, “Rum and Toga” and “Manhattan Penthouse Pajamas”. Groovy.

Also on display was “The Cutout”, designed by Howard Greer – named for a flap that could be unbuttoned to hide the TWA logo when a stewardess was smoking or drinking off-duty. LOVE.

TWA Lounge l sherisilver.com

image credit: Kari Adams

There were also vintage Saarinen “Tulip” tables and chairs (covered in the original Knoll fabric).

TWA Lounge l sherisilver.com

And of course they served us Tab. OF COURSE THEY DID.

TWA Lounge l sherisilver.com

I didn’t want to leave, needless to say, and was not happy to return to modern times when I exited the building.

The lounge is open to the public by appointment only (click on the “contact” icon in the lower right corner of the home page). And don’t forget your “Junior Pilot” pin and postcard when you leave!

TWA Lounge l sherisilver.com

Check out all of my NYC (and beyond!) favorites on my Pinterest board!

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