TWA's Idlewild lounge: Escher, eat your heart out

No, it's not a lost Escher print, it's a photo of Saarinen's long-lost TWA lounge at Idlewild, and you can buy it as a print:

Circa 1964. "Trans World Airlines Terminal. Idlewild Airport, Queens, New York." Acetate negative by Balthazar Korab (1926-2013), Hungarian-born architectural photographer who documented the work of Eero Saarinen.

TWA: 1964 (Thanks, Fipi Lele!)


  1. Idlewild == JFK. Every so often they let people in to look around; e.g.

    1.  That was great, thanks!

      It is a shame they can’t move the place. It could be retrofitted as a hotel lobby / restaurant / lounge, where the weird layout would be an asset rather than a handicap.

  2. Long lost? I thought the place had landmark status.

    I grew up on Long Island. The TWA manta ray was one of the places my family would see off family and friends, back when you could walk to the gate with travellers and wave to them through the plane windows.

    For a space-happy little kid the place was jaw-dropping cool. I remember walking down the carpet-walled, tube-shaped, indirectly lit walkways to the gates, thinking that this is what being in a space station would be like. 

    More recently . . . argh. I did a lot of business travel in the early 90s, and came to hate the place. It is terribly undersized for a modern terminal, and its layout is simply not suited to security arrangements.

    The picture above reminds me of the last time I’d been through there. One of those swoopy balconies has a snack bar. There was an older Japanese tourist couple that was trying to deal with luggage and clearing their table. I took their trays to the bin for them, and was rewarded with this most amazing “Wow, they’re not all rude assholes!” expression.

  3. The building is still there. The airport is now of course known as JFK International Airport, and the building, Terminal 5, is now run by Jet Blue. As you can see in the video, the recently revamped interior has retained the sweeping staircases.

  4. I know I have a dirty mind….

    But there’s a power bottom hidden in that design. Oh yeah…baby. come fly with me.

  5. It’s gorgeous, but looks like it would be a real pain in the ass to try to cross with just a few hundred people occupying it.

    1. It’s actually huge.  Without humans in there for scale it’s difficult to see that those walkways are about 15-20 feet wide.

      This is a massive, glorious space that without skycaps to move your wheeled luggage around, fails as a location adjacent to the airport.

  6. I would die of utter joy if brand-new hyperbolic parabaloid structures started to spring up around the country.  This terminal is simply fabulous.

  7. When I was growing up, dad was in NYC but mom was in L.A. I passed through this terminal at least three times each year during that period, sometimes more. 

  8. I’m disappointed that there’s not one Krushchev joke.  Whippersnappers.

  9. Beautiful to look at, but ugly to use. 

    If there is a Hell for architects, they are endlessly using the spaces they create.

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