JetBlue Airlines—the one with free snacks and live television—is interested in getting into the hotel business, and it wants to kick things off with Eero Saarinen's swooping TWA Terminal at JFK Airport. The Wall Street Journal reported that JetBlue and New York–based hotelier MCR Development are in "advanced negotiations" with the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey for the rights to turn the swooping structure into a modern hotel. While things seem promising, similar attempts have failed. In 2013, hotelier André Balazs won the rights for a terminal-to-hotel conversion, but ultimately decided not to move forward with the project because of how long it would take to complete—he's a busy guy and said he had more interesting things to pursue. After that episode, the bidding process was relaunched and JetBlue and MCR came out on top. If this new plan doesn't meet the same fate, the two companies plan to fill the terminal with 500 rooms, many of which will be occupied by frustrated fliers whose flights were cancelled and need a convenient place to stay before they catch the next flight at the crack of dawn. Honestly, having to spend a night in Saarinen's masterpiece wouldn't be the worst thing in the world.
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Fresh off settling a legal dispute with New York Review of Books critic Martin Filler, Zaha Hadid has unveiled plans for her latest project. And even for the Queen of Swoop, this one is big. Very Big. Record-breaking big. Working with ADP Ingeniérie, a French firm that specializes in airport design, Hadid has drawn up plans for the largest airport passenger terminal on earth. The superlative terminal will, of course, be in China. Specifically, at the new Daxing Airport near Beijing. Conceptual designs for the roughly 7.5-million-square-foot space have all the trademark design flourishes of Hadid's work—an undulating roof, swooping columns, and a grand, polished interior. Gizmag noted that from above the terminal appears as a "massive mutant starfish." Not wrong. "Initially accommodating 45 million passengers per year, the new terminal will be adaptable and sustainable, operating in many different configurations dependent on varying aircraft and passenger traffic throughout each day," said Zaha Hadid Architects in a statement. The firm added that the terminal will serve as a multi-modal transit hub with connections to local and national rail lines. "Under the leadership of the Beijing New Airport Headquarters (BNAH) and the Local Design Institute, the joint design team consists of ADPI and ZHA, along with competition consortium group members Buro Happold, Mott MacDonald and EC Harris," reported ArchDaily. The project is slated to be completed as soon as 2017.
Day One: New Yorkers rejoice as their governor, Andrew Cuomo, announces his intent to bring AirTran service to LaGuardia Airport. Day Two: Well-respected transportation blog The Transport Politic digs into the $450 million plan and shreds apart some of its ambitious goals, namely the time savings it takes to get to the airport. Using the LaGuardia AirTran would actually be a less convenient way to get to the airport than the slow and unreliable options that currently exist. The plan, which is in its early stages, would mean building an AirTran station by Citi Field, between an existing Long Island Rail Road stations and a 7 line subway station; the elevated train would then connect to LaGuardia via the Grand Central Parkway. The Cuomo Administration says the distance traveled is 1.5 miles, but Transport Politics puts it closer to 2.3. Since the new rail line would travel alongside a highway, it would cause minimal disruptions for existing neighborhoods, making this whole thing a much easier pitch for Cuomo, at least politically and financially. Cuomo says the state has the money to pay for the plan through existing funds. But if the LaGuardia AirTran is built as currently proposed, it would actually mean a longer ride to the airport from many major population centers. Travelers heading to LaGuardia from Midtown, Downtown Brooklyn, Central, Queens, and the South Bronx would be better off taking one of the bad public transit options that already exist. The new AirTran would, of course, be faster for anyone living near Citi Field, and would shave a few minutes off the ride from Penn Station for those taking the Long Island Rail Road. This is not the first time that the city has looked into ways to make New York City’s closest airport not feel so far, far away. A 1990's plan, for example, would have extended the N subway line from Astoria, Queens right to LaGuardia. But as Transport Politic noted, the extension was squashed by neighborhood opposition because people apparently didn't want an elevated rail line cutting through their neighborhood. Check out Transport Politic's handy chart below that compares travel times of that 90's plan, Cuomo's plan, and an alternate plan for a connector from Jackson Heights, Queens.
Last year LAX opened its soaring new Tom Bradley International Terminal addition. But that was just the beginning of changes at Los Angeles' woefully-out-of-date airport. The biggest news: Last week the LA Board of Airport Commissioners awarded Turner|PCL (a joint Venture with Corgan/Gensler) a contract to design and build a $1.25 billion Midfield Satellite Concourse (MSC) North Project. The 800,000-square-foot, five-level concourse will be located about 1,300 feet west of the new Tom Bradley, containing 11 new gates spanning a length of about 1,295 feet. It will be connected to that terminal via an underground tunnel. As for the rest of LAX, let's just say it's about time. We first learned via Curbed LA about the just-passed Landside Access Modernization, which includes a new Automated People Mover (called the LAX Train), Intermodal Transportation Facilities (with links to light rail!), and a Consolidated Rent-A-Car Center. Beyond that, the LAX Modernization Program, which began in 2006 and continues through 2019, consists of 20 projects, including renovations to most terminals, circulation improvements, curbside upgrades, and much more. It's one of the biggest public works projects in LA's history. Our theory is proving to be on-target: LA is going to be one heck of a place in 2020.
If you’re not a fan of Auntie Anne’s Pretzels, then LaGuardia Airport really has nothing to offer you. Besides travel-friendly food options like “jalapeño and cheese pretzel dogs" the aging, dirty, sometimes-leaking airport is by all accounts a disaster. Just ask Vice President Joe Biden who once said that if he blindfolded someone and took them to LaGuardia they would think they were in “some third world country.” The Vice President adding, "I'm not joking." A few months after the Veep made that non-joke, he appeared alongside New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to announce design competitions to revamp LaGuardia and JFK, as well as the smaller Republic Airport on Long Island and Stewart Airport in the Hudson Valley. Those competitions will be launched in 30 days and last for 60 days; three finalists will be awarded $500,000. The New York Observer reported that the governor wants to see better retail and restaurant options at the airports (move over Auntie Anne's!), a Long Island Railroad link and ferry connection to LaGuardia, faster rail connections to JFK, and tax-free zones around Republic and Stewart airports. At LaGuardia, at least, the results could possibly look like the totally non-official rendering above. How would any of these changes be funded? That’s a question the governor did not address at the event. According to the Observer, "[Cuomo] did not tell reporters how the cash-strapped state, Port Authority or Metropolitan Transportation Authority would pay for these upgrades, but told reporters all options ‘were on the table,’ including new tolls on bridges.'” Cuomo later told the New York Times that designs had to be selected before financing could be secured, and he deflected criticism that his competition would get in the way of the Port Authority's multi-billion-dollar plan to overhaul LaGuardia's main terminal. There's no word yet on who will oversee that project, or what it will entail, but the Port Authority's very announcement of its plans earlier this year led to the exciting, but entirely unsolicited, completely non-official rendering at top.
A new international airport for Mexico City won't just fix the problems of its predecessor—which typically delays planes because the two runways were built too close together—it will be unique in its efficient expansive single enclosure, according to its architects, Foster + Partners and FR-EE. Foster and FR-EE were announced as the winners of a design competition last Tuesday, in which all the finalists had worked with local design talent. Mexico City-based FR-EE's founder Fernando Romero is married to Soumaya Slim, a daughter of Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim. The new airport, which aims to become the busiest in Latin America, has received a $9.17 billion pledge, partly in public land from President Enrique Peña Nieto. The government will finance its early construction, issuing bonds for later stages of development. Officials estimate Mexico will receive $19.6 billion in additional tourism revenue through 2040 as a result of the new airport. It will accommodate more than 100 million annual passengers. At more than 6 million square feet, the new airport will be one of the world's largest. It's also labeling itself the most sustainable. While still a complex committed to promoting air travel, a substantial contributor to global emissions of carbon dioxide, its layout is intended to be entirely walkable and won't need heating or air conditioning for most of the year. Foster + Partner's website said the project will be LEED Platinum:
The entire building is serviced from beneath, freeing the roof of ducts and pipes and revealing the environmental skin. This hardworking structure harnesses the power of the sun, collects rainwater, provides shading, directs daylight and enables views—all while achieving a high performance envelope that meets high thermal and acoustic standards.Organized around a single massive enclosure, the airport weaves cavernous, naturally ventilated spaces around an organic "X" shape that appears in plan like a cross section of DNA. The lightweight, pre-fab structure will open its first three runways by 2020. Another three runways, set to open by 2050, will quadruple the airport's current capacity. Mexico City's current airport, Benito Juárez International, will eventually be closed and rehabbed into a commercial development and public park. The design competition that preceded this week's unveiling drew high-profile names, including Zaha Hadid, Richard Rogers, and Pascall+Watson. Mexican-American architect and partner at JAHN, Francisco Gonzalez-Pulido, also submitted a design to the competition, but was ultimately unsuccessful. He teamed up with local designers Francisco Lopez-Guerra of LOGUER and Alonso de Garay of ADG for the airport, whose form evokes both flight and traditional Mexican art. A pyramidal arrangement of structural white "umbrellas" transmit light while shielding occupants from the hot Mexican sun.
At long last, it appears Los Angeles is getting its train to the airport. Last week, the board of LA County's transit agency, METRO, agreed to proceed with a $200-million light-rail station, part of the new Crenshaw Line, connecting to a proposed people mover that will usher passengers to their terminals. The new station would be located about a mile and a half east of LAX's central terminal area, and about a half mile north of the Crenshaw Line's Aviation/ Century Stop, at 96th Street and Aviation Boulevard. As AN previously reported, plans for a rail connection to the airport have been on the boards for some time, but the move is one of the final pieces in the LAX transit puzzle. Metro had also been investigating, among other options, a light rail line direct to LAX and people mover locations at other sites. The station—which at this point is only considered Metro's "Locally Preferred Alternative," or simply "Alternative A2"—will need to go through environmental review and other analysis before construction can begin. Furthermore, METRO is waiting for Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) to finalize its people mover plans before finalizing the 96th street location. That decision should come by December, said METRO spokesperson Rick Jager. LAWA is considering an intermodal transit center and a centralized car rental facility as hubs on the people mover route. No designer or architect has been chosen yet for the new station, added Jager. A preliminary sketch given to the METRO board depicts a multi-level, glass enclosed space with a direct connection to buses. But that image, said Jager, was "a penciled quick draw that was done the night before. It was to give the board a quick glimpse of what type of a station it could possibly be, but it was in no way shape or form the final draw." The current contractor for the Crenshaw line is Walsh-Shea Corridor Constructors, which consists of Walsh, Shea, HNTB, Comstock, and ARUP. There is a chance that team could wind up designing the station, but that remains to be seen. If work proceeds as planned the new station could be completed by 2022. Meanwhile LAX, long derided as outdated, is about to undergo renovations to terminals 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, and 8, accompanying new roadside improvements and a major addition to Tom Bradley International Terminal by Fentress Architects.
It’s a battle of the starchitects in Mexico City—and the Brits are leading the pack. Out of the seven finalists short-listed to design an expansion for the capital city's airport, Benito Juarez International, four hail from the UK: Zaha Hadid, Norman Foster, Richard Rogers, and Pascall+Watson. They are joined in the final round by Teodoro González de León with Taller de Arquitectura X, SOM, and Gensler. All of these teams are being led by Mexican practices, and construction could begin later this year. The multi-billion dollar expansion should accommodate 40 million annual passengers at over 70 new gates. The airport's current cheese-grater-like facade in Terminal 2 was completed by Serrano Arquitectos in 2008. The envelope's many circular windows are used to maximize natural daylight within the terminal year round. [Via Architects' Journal]
An impressive new installation at JFK’s Terminal 4 should make air travel slightly less frustrating, or at least more interesting, for passengers. In late February, Bulgarian-born artist Dimitar Lukanov unveiled Outside Time, a soaring sculpture made of steel and aluminum tubes. Despite weighing-in at 4,600 pounds, the piece manages to appear weightless as it elegantly drifts upwards like a densely-packed school of fish. The work is even more impressive knowing that Lukanov created his flowing work—90 percent of which is airborne—without digitally rendering it. He scaled the work by eye over an eight-month period. “Outside Time is a veritable drawing in space, a breathless, effortless, instantaneous gesture in the air. The piece aspires to halt, even momentarily, the relentlessness of time, to indeed be ‘Outside Time,’” said Lukanov in a statement. “The end result of my sculpture is an abbreviated script of matter dissolved within the air.” This installation is the latest in a series of improvements to the terminal. But despite new amenities like Wifi, Blue Smoke barbeque, and a Shake Shack, JFK Terminal 4’s Yelp rating is still a paltry 2.5 stars. Perhaps Outside Time will boost that number, but if Shake Shack didn’t do the trick, don’t count on it.
Are you afraid of taking Rover with you on your next flight because he might have to go potty in the airport? Well, pet-packing passengers flying through San Diego’s Lindbergh Field can rest easy. The airport’s recent $1 billion “Green Build” Terminal 2 expansion includes the nation’s first and only “pet relief” comfort station. Located between gates 46 and 47, the 75-square-foot rest room is decked out with features to get your four-legged friend in the mood to go, including ersatz grass and a fire hydrant. This may be the first, but it won’t be the last. Tom Rossbach, director of aviation architecture at HNTB, told the San Diego Union-Tribune that the firm is offering the amenity to its other airport clients.
LAX finally opened its shiny new Tom Bradley terminal, designed by Fentress Architects, to quite a hullabaloo in July. The throngs who showed up for “Appreciation Days” got to enjoy shopping, music, and even free LAX keychains and knickknacks. But one of the most prominent elements was missing: the public art. Major pieces by Ball-Nogues, Pae White, and Mark Bradford were all delayed for what one participant called “a lack of sophistication on LAX’s part” in shepherding such work through. In other words, the officials didn’t get how to pull this kind of thing off. Well never fear, despite the bumps, contract disputes, and many miscues, the installations will begin opening in late September and continue through the end of the year. Better late than never.
The TWA terminal at JFK airport in New York may soon change prevailing opinions that sleeping at the airport is strictly a last-resort decision. Reports have recently circulated that the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has named André Balazs—the hotelier behind the Standard hotels in New York, Miami, and Los Angeles—to develop the iconic TWA terminal in Jamaica, Queens. According to an exclusive interview with the New York Post, the terminal will be transformed into a hotel and conference center with a spa and fitness center, retail space, eateries, and a flight museum. The facility will be called The Standard, Flight Center. Port Authority Executive Director Pat Foye told the Post in a statement, "The Port Authority is committed to preserving the essence of [Saarinen’s] iconic design and to continuing to work with [Balazs Properties] on a plan to transform the historic TWA Flight Center into a one-of-a-kind hotel and conference center in the heart of JFK’s central terminal area." Andre Balasz Properties could not be reached for comment. Eero Saarinen designed the terminal in 1956 that then opened in 1962, though flight operations were suspended in 2001. Four years later, JetBlue began construction of a new terminal that encircled the original building and has been open since 2008. Saarinen’s terminal has since remained vacant, with the exception of a handful of rare and exclusive events.