Worldport Terminal (former Pan-AM Terminal) at JFK Airport

In the Jet Age, the world’s most famous architects were designing terminals for John F. Kennedy Airport. Many of these buildings would not have the same luck as the TWA Flight Center, the iconic, landmarked terminal that will be turned into a hotel after years of preservation activism and support from inside the Port Authority. It may come as surprise that airline companies have control over the fate of historical buildings, but such is the nature of airport architecture, which is perpetually looking forward to accommodate the new trends and demands of jet travel.

Like in the demolitions of Pennsylvania Station and the renovation of Grand Central Terminal, travel must continue undisrupted in any renovation or construction. As a result, for a period of time, new and old often sit by side at airports offering passengers and flight industry members a chance to reflect. Here are the lost terminals at JFK Airport:

1. Worldport Terminal, Terminal 3

The Worldport Terminal was designed as a showcase by Ives, Turano & Gardner Associated Architects and Walther Prokosch of Tippets-Abbett-McCarthy-Stratton. In 2013, as the terminal was still in use (but deteriorating), Delta decided to demolish it for airplane parking.

Preservationists called for its reuse, citing its iconic saucer shape architecture and its historic moments (the first home of the Boeing 707 and where The Beatles departed from America in 1964). It also landed on the National Trust’s 11 Most Endangered Places List that year. Yet, as we analyzed in 2013, the terminal was not a slam dunk for preservation, the most damning were the significant alterations that have occurred to the building over the years. New Yorkers watched as the building was stripped, over a multi-month demolition.

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4 Responses
  1. JetBlue and its partner, a hotel developer, are negotiating for the rights to turn the head house into a hotel. JFK Airport, which was then known as New York International Airport, or Idlewild.

  2. While I am happy to see you have taken the time to remember the beautiful old terminals which used to make JFK Airport special, I’m somewhat confused what your message is, i.e., is JFK airport much better today for having gotten rid of these terminals, or do you believe more could have been done to re-invent/update these terminals for present day needs? I for one consider JFK Airport to be nothing more than a grouping of Ikea warehouses. BORING. No aesthetics whatsoever. Also am confused why you would pick to show a partially demolished Pan Am Worldport terminal which just adds insult to injury to the preservationists who fought hard to have it re-purposed for 21st century needs.

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