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TWA's New York Terminal has long held a fascination for me. Growing up my Mother told me on more than one occasion that her Father had been employed in the construction of this remarkable building. Later, as a newly hired Pilot at TWA I could not help but think of my Grandfather walking the same halls I now walked in my new job. My Mother described the Terminal to me as a bird in flight, swooping down for a landing. This is particularly apparent in the image above, (Third from right) where the great cement "beak" juts over the roadway, enormous wings reach to either side and legs extend forward in anticipation of landing.
I never really appreciated the structure for the remarkable engineering feat it represents until several years ago when my Mother showed me photographs taken during the Terminal's construction. As one can see in above image on the left the structure is fully cantilevered, with the windows (not yet installed) providing absolutely no support to the concrete. If one looks closely in the next image (second from left) one can see the skylights extend from each of the four legs to the center of the roof, neatly dividing the building's roof into four sections. Thus, not only is each section fully cantilevered, each section is balanced on two legs! The magnitude of this is best appreciated by entering the building and gazing up at the roof. Though my Grandfather died before I was ever old enough to appreciate any of this, my father, who is a Civil Engineer, has passed on some of his conversations with my Grandfather during the Terminal's construction. Apparently the Terminal's creator, Eero Saarinen, was an architect and not an engineer. He designed the structure but did not describe how to actually build it. According to my Father the Engineers in my Grandfather's firm had fits trying to contain the concrete reinforcements within the building's thin cement shell. Paperclips were bent on a model to determine the shape of the rebar for the building.
Above left two photos taken by my Grandfather, Edgerton Aikman
Below you'll find what JetBlue has planned for Terminal 5
Visit the sites below to learn more about Terminal Five
Photos of the new terminal's construction
Article about Terminal 5 I wrote for Airliners magazine
An upcoming exhibit in Terminal Five
Photos by David F. Gallagher
Galinsky: free access to modern buildings..
Proposed Expansion of Terminal Five
The National Trust:
(One of) America's 11 most endangered places in 2003
Copyright © 2007, Ian A. Duncan
Revised - - 2/23/2007