February 15, 2007


Forty four years ago this week, construction began on the Gateway Arch in St Louis. I was lucky to get to wander around the arch with my friend Louis when I was there for the World Series. (Only later did he tell me that he had a fear of heights.) The arch is a beautiful and brilliant piece of architecture by Eero Saarinen, who I wrote about a few weeks ago regarding Dulles Airport in Virginia. There are some fascinating drawings and original concepts/plans for the arch in the waiting area for the elevator. Though I haven't seen this comparison made elswhere, I remember wondering when I was at Dulles if Saarinen in his time could be compared to Frank Gehry in ours. Though their work is very different, both did things previously thought to be impossible with the building materials, creating shapes and spaces we didn't know could be made.

One of my favorite buildings of Saarinen's is the TWA terminal at JFK in New York. Every inch of the building is about flight, an amazing play of curves and light. Unfortunately, it was a casualty of the loss of TWA is 2001. In 2005, JetBlue announced plans to build a new terminal surrounding the old TWA terminal. While they left the front of the old terminal, the "flight wings" have been demolished for JetBlue's new terminal, now under construction. "These flight wings were the functional, innovative part of the TWA terminal," said architect Hal Hayes. "They were the most new and different things that he did there." I'm suprised that JetBlue chose to demolish Saarinen's work, given their design consciousness. "It completely severs the historic building from its context. Basically, it doesn't have any planes near it anymore," said Hayes. I suppose we should be happy that the lobby area remains. Saarinen died in 1961 after brain surgery and never saw the finished terminal, which was completed in 1962.
[JFK photos from lightningfield.com]

  • Eero Saarinen bio

  • lightningfield.com photos of TWA terminal
  • 1 comment:

    Anonymous said...

    I live here and I find out more about my city from you than I do anywhere else :)