Good-bye & Farewell to JFK Terminal 6…

Oh, sigh….

It’s a shame when an interesting work of architecture goes into a state of being unused, underutilized, and unwanted.  That’s the current case of I.M. Pei’s Terminal 6 at New York City’s JFK Airport.  Terminal 6 was built in 1969, and was an example of clean lines, being brightly-lit, and showing off large open spaces. However, by the end of October 2011, the building will no longer exist.

Mr. Pei was able to pull of the transparent openness of Terminal 6 through sophisticated and subtle engineering.  The terminal’s main pavilion has a deep roof truss resting on 16 large concrete columns (making load-bearing walls unnecessary), allowing an all-glass enclosure.  Through this, anyone passing through Terminal 6 could look straight through the building and out the other side.  Mr. Pei also designed Terminal 6 without the need of any visible ductwork, as rainwater drained from the roof through the concrete columns.

Nowadays, many older buildings and structures are able to be preserved and/or rehabilitated for alternate usage. One example of this is Eero Saarinen’s popular Trans World Airlines (TWA) Flight Center next door to Terminal 6, which is currently being preserved and rehabilitated by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. The total cost of the project is over $20 million, and the plan is to have the TWA Flight Center incorporated into a hotel and conference center planned on the site.

Unfortunately, it appears that Terminal 6 will not receive the same treatment.  Demolition crews have already brought down the boarding gates, and it seems that there is little to no interest in saving this work of architecture.  What make this whole thing even more grating and disappointing is that the building is still structurally sound and could be easily preserved, rehabilitated, and adapted to fit an entire new need, much like the TWA Flight Center.  The reason for the demolition that JFK Airport officials are giving is that they wish to have newer facilities that would cause less delays and be more efficient (Ohhhhhhh-kaaaaaaaay?).  I guess we can take that reasoning with a grain of salt.
Rest in Peace JFK Terminal 6 (1969 – 2011)

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