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airporthistory
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IMAGES: A forgotten scheme to expand the TWA Flight Center

Sat May 30, 2020 10:59 am

Hi folks,

This month 58 years ago, the TWA flight Center was inaugurated. The TWA Hotel, which opened for business on May 19th last year, has become a place of pilgrimage for AvGeeks.

Thirty years ago, TWA commissioned Perkins & Will to developed an expansion scheme for the TWA Flight Center that would have brought it fully up to date.

Among other things, the scheme would have seen Flight Wing Two torn down and replaced with a huge “Y”-shaped concourse. The Flight Center’s iconic “head house” would be used for check-in only. If built, the Flight Center (and the Sundrome) might have still been with us today as a functional terminal.

I wrote a blog post about it with many images of the proposed design. You can find it here: https://www.airporthistory.org/blue-concourse/a-forgotten-scheme-to-expand-the-twa-flight-center

What do you think about the design? Would it have worked?

Image
 
Cointrin330
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Re: Subject: IMAGES: A forgotten scheme to expand the TWA Flight Center

Sat May 30, 2020 12:33 pm

LOVE THIS. Thank you for posting the article and all the work. These are some of best threads here.

Interesting concept for sure. I guess the expansion, particularly to the right of the existing Saarinen hall would have substantially reduced the available footprint for the redeveloped IAB, which became T4 though when the TWA Flight Center project described here was proposed, in 1990, the T4 project was 12+ years away from its opening and would have been designed in a different way. I don't even think the T4 replacement of the IAB was conceived then. To me, it seems like the expansion would have been outsized relative to the ticketing and check in lobby even with the added space between the Flight Center and the Sundrome. Would have been interesting to see how, had this project come to fruition, the architecture of all 3 spaces would have been blended together.

Do you know if the expanded concourse was designed principally with the largest TWA jets in mind (747, L1011, 767) or was it to have been able to accomodate all of TWA's aircraft at the time?
 
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airporthistory
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Re: Subject: IMAGES: A forgotten scheme to expand the TWA Flight Center

Sat May 30, 2020 12:53 pm

Cointrin330 wrote:
LOVE THIS. Thank you for posting the article and all the work. These are some of best threads here.

Interesting concept for sure. I guess the expansion, particularly to the right of the existing Saarinen hall would have substantially reduced the available footprint for the redeveloped IAB, which became T4 though when the TWA Flight Center project described here was proposed, in 1990, the T4 project was 12+ years away from its opening and would have been designed in a different way. I don't even think the T4 replacement of the IAB was conceived then. To me, it seems like the expansion would have been outsized relative to the ticketing and check in lobby even with the added space between the Flight Center and the Sundrome. Would have been interesting to see how, had this project come to fruition, the architecture of all 3 spaces would have been blended together.

Do you know if the expanded concourse was designed principally with the largest TWA jets in mind (747, L1011, 767) or was it to have been able to accomodate all of TWA's aircraft at the time?


From the layout drawings, I actually don't think it would have been in the way of the new IAB.

And yes, as mentioned in the article and shown in the layout drawing, the expansion was designed with wide bodies in mind. Although the documentation does not mention it, from the plans I gather that the Flight Center would have handle mostly international flights and the Sundrome domestic flights. Having said that, the plan also features some stands for commuter aircraft.
 
PSAatSAN4Ever
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Re: IMAGES: A forgotten scheme to expand the TWA Flight Center

Sat May 30, 2020 4:28 pm

Thank you for the fabulous story and drawing!! I have to wonder, though, if the limiting factor here wasn't so much Terminal 5 as it was Terminal 6.

The renderings of the new Terminal 5 layout show a LOT of 747's, indicating there would be LOTS of room between gates. That's forward thinking - what future planes might be parked there? Whatever they will be, there will undoubtedly be room!

However, that Sunport always has seemed incredibly small and inefficient to me. I know it is an I.M. Pei design, and was one of the first terminals every to utilize different floors for arrivals versus departures; however, because of its orientation, not as many planes can dock there as would a "finger" terminal pier.
 
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airporthistory
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Re: IMAGES: A forgotten scheme to expand the TWA Flight Center

Sat May 30, 2020 5:52 pm

PSAatSAN4Ever wrote:
Thank you for the fabulous story and drawing!! I have to wonder, though, if the limiting factor here wasn't so much Terminal 5 as it was Terminal 6.

The renderings of the new Terminal 5 layout show a LOT of 747's, indicating there would be LOTS of room between gates. That's forward thinking - what future planes might be parked there? Whatever they will be, there will undoubtedly be room!

However, that Sunport always has seemed incredibly small and inefficient to me. I know it is an I.M. Pei design, and was one of the first terminals every to utilize different floors for arrivals versus departures; however, because of its orientation, not as many planes can dock there as would a "finger" terminal pier.


For sure, if this plan would have gone ahead, the Sundrome would have needed a makeover sooner or later as well. It's still a great pity that they had tear down the entire structure. It would have been great if they could have saved the main glass building, and just rebuild the gate concourses, which from an architectural point of view was less valuable.
 
global2
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Re: IMAGES: A forgotten scheme to expand the TWA Flight Center

Sat May 30, 2020 6:41 pm

Thank you for posting this, it's a fascinating idea which unfortunately did not come to pass. I wish Jet Blue had followed something along these lines as their current single-pier design leaves a huge amount of wasted tarmac space between T4 and T5.
 
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jfklganyc
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Re: IMAGES: A forgotten scheme to expand the TWA Flight Center

Sat May 30, 2020 6:50 pm

The was a TWA modernization project along with A330s

Alas, it was not meant to be. Icahn left them cash poor around this time

JFK has a long history of never developed projects because:

1. Until recently, there was never a Master Plan

2. The agency that runs the airport doesnt build the airport to a common cause like most airports are run. It is a hodge podge of competing terminals with divergent interests barely coexisting in uncomfortable terms...aka it is NYC

3. JFK is periphery important, not vital. As airlines have retrenched over the years, JFK was always scaled back for more dominant fire wall hubs that made money. We have seen this with Pan Am (Miami) Eastern (left JFK) TWA (St Louis) and now AA (Philly)

Ironically, JFK is probably more secure now as a hub with B6 and DL than it has ever been with any other airline.
 
Cointrin330
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Re: IMAGES: A forgotten scheme to expand the TWA Flight Center

Sat May 30, 2020 7:21 pm

In Q1-1989, Trans World Airlines announced an order for 40 Airbus A330-300 twin jets (20 firm, 20 options). The A330s were going to replace a number of 747s and some L1011's though the much later 757 order was what, per an old TWA press release, was the final selection to replace the L1011. The order was renegotiated in 1993 when TWA was in its first trip through Chapter 11 bankruptcy and the order was pared back significantly, from 20 firm and 20 options to 10 and 10. The A330's were to have been powered by RR Trent 700 engines, and would have been among the first A330s to be powered by RR. In December 1998, TWA placed a $3.9 billion order split between Airbus and Boeing, for 50 717s (with options for 50 more), and 75 Airbus jets, which were initially planned to be 50 A318's and 25 from the A320 family. The Airbus order included options for 75 more frames. The reworked A330 order was then reworked again for the A318's that were saw the light of day at TWA. The only other wide body TWA began to transition in was the 767-300ER. I'm not sure if this was during or just post the 1992 bankruptcy. By the mid-1990s they had a few of them, and operated 10 in total. They were used a lot on the JFK-CAI-RUH and JFK-TLV sectors and on some of what was left of the TATL network to Europe by the late 1990s which had dwindled to LIS, FCO, MXP, and CDG, and eventually, just down to CDG (from JFK) and STL-LGW which was flown with the 763. The TWA 762 fleet dated back to 1983 or 1984, and were used alongside the 747s and L1011s to Europe, mostly to secondary destinations. The 747 was the mainstay of JFK to LHR (2 per day), CDG (2 per day), FCO, MXP, FRA, MAD, TLV, and ATH. The L1011s were often flying AMS, BRU, ZRH, MUC with the 762 used on flights to TXL, GVA, LIS, BCN, OSL, CPH and some tags to VIE and SVO when they operated.
 
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airporthistory
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Re: IMAGES: A forgotten scheme to expand the TWA Flight Center

Sat May 30, 2020 7:44 pm

jfklganyc wrote:
Until recently, there was never a Master Plan


There was the infamous 1980s "JFK 2000" Master Plan, the main component of which was the construction of a huge central terminal building opposite the old IAB. It would be connected to all the airline terminals which would in effect become satellite terminals.

The attached image is from the first 1986 version of the plan of which I proudly own an original copy. It was prepared by I.M.Pei and Partners of Sundrome fame. The final version of the plan looked quite different. Among other things, it features a very different road layout. Also, it incorporates the expanded TWA terminal discussed in the article and a new terminal replacing former terminals 8 and 9 (which ended up being built). I'm still looking for a high-quality version of that final plan.

The JFK 2000 Master Plan was finally shelved in 1990 due the airlines objecting to the cost.

Once my JFK saga arrives enters the 1980s, I will do an extensive chapter on the JFK 2000 scheme. That will be uber cool, even though I say so myself. ;-)

Image
 
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jfklganyc
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Re: IMAGES: A forgotten scheme to expand the TWA Flight Center

Sat May 30, 2020 8:36 pm

That proposal was a disaster

It led to a “tunnel to nowhere” that was built and never used.

It tried to turn JFK into TPA and it was unworkable.

I also am very glad the TWA proposal was never built. It would have preserved two dated terminals and JFK didnt need that in the 90s or today.

The Sundrome was an overcrowded, windowless mess when B6 vacated it. People put on rose colored glasses when they reminisce...but that was the situation on the ground.

I will always have a fondness for the old JFK terminals, but preserving any of them for use would have prolonged JFKs biggest problem: small, antiquated terminals that were individually operated.

JFK needs more of T8, less of T1. Unified, spacious, modern. Many airlines under one roof without being crammed

Great article. Well written!
Last edited by jfklganyc on Sat May 30, 2020 8:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
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airporthistory
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Re: IMAGES: A forgotten scheme to expand the TWA Flight Center

Sat May 30, 2020 8:39 pm

jfklganyc wrote:
It led to a “tunnel to nowhere” that was built and never used.


Tell me more about that tunnel. Sounds intriguing!
 
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OzarkD9S
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Re: IMAGES: A forgotten scheme to expand the TWA Flight Center

Sat May 30, 2020 10:46 pm

I never knew of this plan, but I fiddled around with drawing an expansion of the TWA facilities at JFK. Mine ended up being a T6 linear concourse connecting to a redone Flight Wing One and Two, with an angled Flight Wing Two heading off to the taxiways. This plan was pretty cool, and not what I envisioned but there ya go. Love your work, keep it up.
"True, I talk of dreams,
Which are the children of an idle brain." -Mercutio
 
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jfklganyc
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Re: IMAGES: A forgotten scheme to expand the TWA Flight Center

Sat May 30, 2020 11:53 pm

airporthistory wrote:
jfklganyc wrote:
It led to a “tunnel to nowhere” that was built and never used.


Tell me more about that tunnel. Sounds intriguing!


It was a baggage tunnel. Expensive. For JFK 2000

Never connected to anything
 
PANAMsterdam
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Re: IMAGES: A forgotten scheme to expand the TWA Flight Center

Sun May 31, 2020 7:27 am

airporthistory wrote:
That will be uber cool, even though I say so myself. ;-)


You may say so, but to be honest: every article on your website is uber cool! I love reading them!

Keep up the great work, can't wait for the next story to arrive! :bouncy:
Every country has an airline. The world has Pan Am.
 
airlineAZ
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Re: IMAGES: A forgotten scheme to expand the TWA Flight Center

Sun May 31, 2020 6:19 pm

Fantastic article, and what a find!! Makes sense that TWA was not in a state at the time to take that on. I wonder if this plan was consulted at all when designing the current JetBlue Terminal 5?

airporthistory wrote:
Hi folks,

This month 58 years ago, the TWA flight Center was inaugurated. The TWA Hotel, which opened for business on May 19th last year, has become a place of pilgrimage for AvGeeks.

Thirty years ago, TWA commissioned Perkins & Will to developed an expansion scheme for the TWA Flight Center that would have brought it fully up to date.

Among other things, the scheme would have seen Flight Wing Two torn down and replaced with a huge “Y”-shaped concourse. The Flight Center’s iconic “head house” would be used for check-in only. If built, the Flight Center (and the Sundrome) might have still been with us today as a functional terminal.

I wrote a blog post about it with many images of the proposed design. You can find it here: https://www.airporthistory.org/blue-concourse/a-forgotten-scheme-to-expand-the-twa-flight-center

What do you think about the design? Would it have worked?

Image
 
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airporthistory
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Re: IMAGES: A forgotten scheme to expand the TWA Flight Center

Sun May 31, 2020 7:55 pm

airlineAZ wrote:
Fantastic article, and what a find!! Makes sense that TWA was not in a state at the time to take that on. I wonder if this plan was consulted at all when designing the current JetBlue Terminal 5


Hi AirlineAZ, it's a good question. The design discussed in the article and the Gensler design for the Jetblue terminal really only have one thing in common: both designs curve around the TWA Flight Center head house, but that is sort of a natural outcome of trying to design a terminal around an existing structure.

By the way, in the early 2000s, there was another design done for a large terminal replacing the T5 and T6. It was reminiscent of EWR's terminal C. I have some images of the design on the way and will post them as soon as I get them.
 
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jfklganyc
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Re: IMAGES: A forgotten scheme to expand the TWA Flight Center

Sun May 31, 2020 11:03 pm

The 2000 plan was United. They were going to take over the whole complex. TWA was to have gates in the United terminal if you could believe that

The B6 Terminal is a larger version of that
 
jfk777
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Re: IMAGES: A forgotten scheme to expand the TWA Flight Center

Mon Jun 01, 2020 1:37 am

The TWA of 1990 was already financially ravaged by Carl Icahn. In 1990 Icahn was selling the Crown Jewel Heathrow routes to American Airlines. This terminal seems way too big for TWA' s needs.
 
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airporthistory
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Re: IMAGES: A forgotten scheme to expand the TWA Flight Center

Mon Jun 01, 2020 10:48 am

jfk777 wrote:
The TWA of 1990 was already financially ravaged by Carl Icahn. In 1990 Icahn was selling the Crown Jewel Heathrow routes to American Airlines. This terminal seems way too big for TWA' s needs.


How bizar that under those conditions TWA would commission the development of a huge expansion plan.
 
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jfklganyc
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Re: IMAGES: A forgotten scheme to expand the TWA Flight Center

Mon Jun 01, 2020 12:23 pm

airporthistory wrote:
jfk777 wrote:
The TWA of 1990 was already financially ravaged by Carl Icahn. In 1990 Icahn was selling the Crown Jewel Heathrow routes to American Airlines. This terminal seems way too big for TWA' s needs.


How bizar that under those conditions TWA would commission the development of a huge expansion plan.



They actually expanded quite a bit out of JFK in the mid 90s post Icahn and were doing fairly well.

I believe they were at a party celebrating leaving Bankruptcy around the time 800 happened.

Flight 800 changed everything. It exposed a dysfunctional company (the PR response was a mess) that was using ancient 747s for modern Trans Atlantic travel. They simply didnt have the capital for new widebodies.


The 747s were grounded and not much replaced them. The existing 767 fleet was beefed up with some 763s and the 757 was also used on some TA routes.

JFK shrunk rapidly. They stopped using T6. The rest is history

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