8. The Ambassador Club Is Restored to How It Was When the Pope and Elizabeth Taylor Flew TWA

The Ambassador’s Club was the TWA First Class lounge and many famous people have flown through it over the years. It was greatly modified over the years with a lot of original finishes removed or changed, but the original design featured the work of several of notable designers including Charles Eames who designed the seats and Florence Knoll who did the fabrics and upholstery. Southwick explains about the process:

“We went back a lot to the original drawings. Part of what was done in 1962 was actually modified in 1964, so we did a lot of historic research. We did a whole morphology of the space, showing which rooms were designed and changed a few years afterwards. And then we went up to the archives at Yale and not only found drawings and specs, but they also had a really good collection of a lot of the original fabrics and materials. That research is very valuable. Knoll is reproducing some of their early fabrics to put into some of the seating and wall covering.”

But make sure you go beyond the open area of the Ambassador’s Club, past the cantilevered steel shells that support the seats by Eames and the fountains. Southwick calls attention to the smaller rooms within the core of the Ambassador’s Club, “those are the ones that are really interesting,” he says. One is known as the “Pope’s Room” because the Pope m used to fly TWA. “The 747 he flew was called the Good Shepherd. They’d rename it when he was on the plane,” says Southwick. Another room with a gold ceiling and oculus was used by Elizabeth Taylor when she flew through the airport. Beyer Blinder Belle also brought back mirrors in another room.