What’s the significance of the Saarinen terminal to an architectural historian?
As much as any building of the mid-20th century, the TWA Flight Center captured the optimism and vitality of modernism. It embodied the promise of the modern world and the economic, social and political changes wrought by the Industrial Revolution. That it was an airport terminal was especially meaningful, as air travel would be the mode of transportation—as opposed to the 19th century railroads—that would carry us all into a brighter future.
What are some details about the building people should people love and appreciate?
TWA is one of those buildings that in-person exceeds any expectations, however high, that you might have had for it. It is a great example of a modernist gesamtkunstwerk, or complete work of art, in which every detail, from the roof line to the benches to the mosaic tiles of the floor supports the overall aesthetic of the building. The reception desk in particular is stunning, with curvilinear lines that frame the arrivals and departures board and then swing down and up in one swooping line to create the reception desk itself.
The TWA terminal is open to the public, for free, this Sunday from 11am to 4pm.