The luxury of vintage

The luxury of vintage

20 March 2020 Off By Facto Edizioni

/ TWA Terminal 5 at JFK airport in New York has been brought back to life after almost 20 years: a few months ago it reopened as a sixties-style luxury hotel with the original timetable displays by Italian firm Solari /

TWA (Trans World America) Terminal 5 at New York’s JFK airport was designed by the Finnish neo-futurist architect and designer Eero Saarinen and opened in 1962. Its curvilinear architecture and wing shape make it a symbol of the Jet Age, which began in the 1940s with the use of the first jet-powered military aircraft and marked by the boom of the aeronautical sector, and that continued throughout the 1960s with the consolidation of international flights. Closed in 2001, the year when Trans World Airlines was taken over by American Airlines, the terminal was abandoned.

Finally, after years of work and an investment of around 300 million dollars, the building has reopened in the form of a luxury hotel, in perfect 60s style and with the intention of using the terminal as a business space, complete with every service. The structure is flanked by 2 towers on the sides – built from scratch – to house the over 500 rooms, with large windows overlooking the runway. At the TWA Hotel there are now almost 5,000 square metres of meeting spaces that can accommodate up to 1,600 people, with 6 restaurants and 8 bars, a pool bar next to the heated rooftop infinity pool, a cocktail lounge housed in a 4-engine airliner dating back to the 60s, a ballroom, a fitness centre covering more than 900 square metres (the largest in the world inside a hotel), various shops, and even a whole room for playing (even on the walls) Twister, an iconic board game released in 1966.

In the large lounge with fire-red furnishings and at the entrance to the terminal, 3 split-flap timetable displays immediately stand out, built by Solari from Udine, Italy for TWA in 1962 and that the company has now rebuilt in its laboratories for MCR, owners of the hotel. Just like in the original ones, the displays at the entrance are enclosed in the oval shell designed by Saarinen – preserved intact – and covered with white tiles made by the famous mosaic artists from the Spilimbergo school (Pordenone, Italy). Authenticity in every detail is so important that the company has managed to trace all of the original designs from the 1960s – the logos, fonts, colours of the brands of 78 airlines – so that it can guarantee that the new display is identical to the original. Solari took more than 1,900 hours of production to screen-print and hand-assemble the over 44,000 flaps that make up the three displays, 450 hours for hardware design and 160 for software that controls operation and ensures continuous updates. The flaps are the original ones patented by Solari and that produce that unmistakable sound that every traveller in the world recognises in airports and stations. On the largest display (4 x 1.5m) a special arrangement of flaps has been created so that the word ‘Welcome’ appears in 15 languages and alphabets.

In various points of the terminal, guests can also see an exhibition of the history of Trans World Airlines and the Jet Age, with over 2,000 pieces of memorabilia that the airline and the New York Historical Society collected and received from former employees. There are also 37 uniforms of the airline from 1945 to 2001 and various other items of clothing, objects, luggage, original travel posters and a living room from 1962 recreated in detail.

Taken from Games&Parks Industry March 2020, page 64