The architects of a number of striking projects featured in this month’s RECORD have radically reimagined new spaces within existing structures. A brick university laboratory in Amsterdam has been re-fitted as a hipster hostelry. An old gymnasium in London—think 19th-century health club—has been transformed into a dramatic high-end restaurant. A 1930s hospital on an island in the Venice lagoon has become a sumptuous luxury hotel (you can’t beat the location). These projects are all part of a contemporary trend to adapt everything from bank buildings to factories into dynamic hospitality spaces.
Yet the more distinctive the original architecture, the more challenging that adaptation can be. Take Eero Saarinen’s spectacular TWA Flight Center at JFK Airport in New York (1962), a building in search of a purpose ever since it was mothballed in 2001. Now, it appears, work will finally begin to convert the landmark into a hotel, with a renovation and expansion by the firms Beyer Blinder Belle and Lubrano Ciavarra Architects. The concept is to make it the grand entrance, with lounges and bars (there were several originally; to get travelers in the mood for where their awaiting jet would take them, they had names like the Lisbon Lounge and the Paris Café). The new hotel’s developer proposes to construct two six-story structures behind Saarinen’s birdlike icon, to hold 505 guest rooms and 40,000 square feet of meeting venues.