There’s a building at JFK airport in New York that people have been talking about for almost 60 years. At one time, it was the world's most modern airport terminal, bringing the Jet Age fully into public consciousness. This building had no peer; and its creator, Eero Saarinen, was one of the most visionary architects in the world. For years the airline TWA (later absorbed by American Airlines) used it as a glamorous gateway to the world, sending off passengers in an era people dressed up to fly and there was no such thing as airport security. The volume of passengers increased so much that the building had to be abandoned. After a few decades in mothballs, and dangerously close to demolition, Saarinen’s TWA terminal has been meticulously restored and expanded, with a world-class hotel adjacent and even better, a massive underground conference facility you’d never know was there.
Host George Smart was in New York for a huge gala opening inside that underground conference center. He talked with Richard Southwick, project partner in charge with restoration architects Beyer Blinder Belle. But first, George sat down in Los Angeles at the iconic Beverly Hilton with Saarinen’s son, Eric Saarinen. Then George is back in New York with architects Anne Marie Lubrano and Lea Ciaverra, of the not-surprisingly named firm Lubrano Ciaverra, for the brilliant new TWA hotel, you know, he one with the massive underground conference facility.
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