The Mid-Century Modern icon TWA Flight Center was rehabilitated by MCR/MORSE Development with architecture firm Beyer Blinder Belle into the TWA Hotel. MHA aided in the careful preservation work by completing the historic tax credit applications and providing best preservation practices recommendations, ultimately helping the project secure $36 million in federal historic tax credits and $5 million in state historic tax credits.
Completed in 1962, the TWA Flight Center was the epitome of contemporary, stylish travel, selling the fantasy of a modern world connected through air travel. When given the opportunity to design their own airport terminal at JFK International Airport in New York, TWA chose to showcase their forward-thinking ideas and hired architect Eero Saarinen to design what would become one of the most architecturally celebrated Mid-Century Modern buildings in the country. The curving, boundary-pushing concrete structure with sleek finishes represents Saarinen’s legacy of breaking from the popular International Style of the time and creating something fluid and expressive.
The Flight Center welcomed travelers for four decades, but by 2001 the terminal had outgrown its usefulness and its future was thrown into uncertainty. The rehabilitation by MCR/MORSE Development brought the fantasy and romance of air travel back to life in the form of the TWA Hotel.
The TWA Flight Center was rehabilitated to house the check-in area for the hotel. A 50,000-square-foot events center was also added. The preservation efforts focused heavily on the interiors and the retention of important and unique spaces and details. The original bars and restaurants were returned to their historic uses and now welcome a new generation of travelers. MHA managed the federal and state historic tax credit applications that were key to recreating the beauty and glamour of Saarinen’s design. Two new low-rise buildings were built on the site for the hotel rooms.
The main focus of the rehabilitation was preserving the iconic interior finishes that defined the TWA Flight Center for decades. The penny tile floor was thoroughly cleaned and repaired and tiles were replaced only where necessary. The TWA red carpet and furniture coverings were preserved and replaced in-kind where needed. The two Flight Tubes – windowless, elevated pedestrian tubes that once connected to other parts of the airport – were reopened to provide access to the JetBlue Terminal and the new hotel rooms.
The iconic flight board was restored by the original manufacturers to the original split-flap machinery. All exterior and interior signage was either retained or recreated using the historic fonts and TWA colors. Additionally, an original 1958 Lockheed Constellation passenger aircraft was restored with TWA finishes and placed on the tarmac between the two flight tubes for use as additional lounge space and to recreate the historic scene from inside the Flight Center.
The experience of the TWA Hotel is unique as it leans heavily on the commercial memory of the place. With the help of creative financing like the historic tax credit and historic consulting by MHA, not only has an irreplaceable building been saved, it has been turned into a time machine for modern day travelers.
- American Institute of Architects | 2021 AIA Award - Architecture
- Preservation League of New York State | 2021 Pillar of New York Award
- Architizer A+ Awards | 2020 Best Bar & Lounge Finalist (Connie Cocktail Lounge at TWA Hotel)
- Commercial Property Executive | 2020 Distinguished Achievement Awards - Gold for Best Design & Gold for Best Development
- Conde Nast Traveler | 2020 Readers’ Choice Award
- Departures Magazine | 2020 Legend Award - Best Hotel Bars in the World (Connie Cocktail Lounge at TWA Hotel)
- Docomomo US | 2020 Citation of Merit - Commercial
- Fast Company | 2020 Innovation by Design Award
- Hospitality Design | 2020 Finalist - Public Space and Restorations & Transformations & Conversions
- Interior Design Magazine | Best of Year Awards 2019 Hospitality Transformation - Winner & Bar/Lounge - Honoree
- Jetsetter Magazine | 2020 Best of the Best Awards - Best Game-Changer
- MIPIM Awards | 2020 Best Hotel & Tourism Finalist
- Restaurant & Bar Design Awards | 2020 Best Hotel (International) Finalist (Connie Cocktail Lounge at TWA Hotel)
- SBID Awards | 2020 Best Club & Bar Design Finalist (Connie Cocktail Lounge at TWA Hotel)
- The James Beard Foundation | 2020 Awards - Outstanding Design of Alternative Eating and Drinking Places Finalist (Connie Cocktail Lounge at TWA Hotel)
- The Municipal Art Society of New York | 2020 MASterworks Award - Best Adaptive Reuse
- The New York Landmarks Conservancy | 2020 Lucy G. Moses Preservation Award
- ULI New York | 2020 Excellence in Development Awards – Excellence in Hotel Development Winner
- World Interior News Awards | 2020 Best Hotel & Other Overnight Accommodations Finalist
- Boutique Design Magazine | Gold Key Awards for Hospitality in Design - 2019 Best Guest Room - Upper Midscale & Judges’ So Cool Award
- New York State | 2019 Historic Preservation Award - Excellence in Historic Building Rehabilitation
- Queens Chamber of Commerce | 2019 Building Awards for New Construction, Hotels & Motels, Rehabilitation/Adaptive Reuse, & Open or Enclosed Public Space
- The Americas Lodging Investment Summit | 2019 ALIS Award - Development of the Year - Full Service
- The Architect’s Newspaper | 2019 Best of Design Awards - Building of the Year, Adaptive Reuse, Architectural Lighting - Indoor
- Docomomo US | 2015 Award of Excellence - Commercial
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