Friday, July 4, 2008

One Airport Legend re-opens, another closes down

JetBlue is moving up its expected opening date of Terminal 5 at New York John F. Kennedy to
September 2008, that previously had been scheduled for early 2009. The $742 million concourse, one of the largest construction projects in the USA, will replace the carrier's operations at the cramped Terminal 6.
"In a tour of the facility for USA TODAY, JetBlue spokesman Todd Burke said construction is ahead of schedule and that the project is 'coming along beautifully.' Designed by San Francisco-based architecture firm Gensler, the 640,000-square-foot terminal is a glass-metal structure that will sit immediately behind
the empty landmark TWA terminal designed by the late Finnish Eero Saarinen."

The buildings will be connected through the dreamlike tubular corridors — featured evocatively in Stephen Soderberg's film featuring Leo from 2002 “Catch Me If You Can” — that once led to T.W.A.’s gates. The whole introduction to the film is very much inspired by the style and aesthetics of the 50's, and the building has an important supporting actor role. 

Although its swooping forms amount to a three-dimensional transcription of “Come Fly With Me,” the building’s days as a functioning terminal were numbered in 2001 with the collapse of T.W.A. and W.T.C.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey was for many years open to ideas that would transform and redevelop the brilliant architectural wonder “anything else that can be imagined by a redeveloper,” said its aviation director, William R. DeCota. Proposals ranged from a restaurant, a lounge, a spa, a shopping mall, a conference center, a art museum, a Theater, a Botanical Garden, a Sculpture court, a huge office
space, a swimmingpool, a dance club and concert space.


An example of a proposal that was a temporary installation of the building was the exhibition, ''Terminal 5.'' It was the brainchild of Rachel K. Ward, a independent curator with a penchant for placing art in
spectacular, if unlikely, locales. One of her last project was installed in a man-made ice cave atop the Matterhorn mountain in the Swiss Alps. The terminal project, Ms. Ward explained, ''was inspired by seeing this enormous, gorgeous landmark sitting here unused and by the desire to make it accessible to the general public.''

With the expansive sculptural forms and cool interiors, the Saarinen terminal has the feeling of the Wright's Guggenheim Museum and embody a stirring midcentury optimism about the future. But both were overtaken by it: over time, neither has proved entirely suited to its purpose. The Guggenheim's alcoves couldn't comfortably contain the vast canvases of the early 1960's; Terminal 5 could not effectively accommodate the massive flying buses of the new jet age.


For Ms. Ward, this blend of utopianism and pathos made the terminal particularly appealing as a venue for an exhibition dealing with transience, travel and the challenges of modernity. So she secured permission from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, then commissioned 20 artists to create site-specific installations. Much of the best work cleverly used the existing architecture. Jenny Holzer displayed her enigmatic text messages on the arrivals and departures board. The Japanese sound artist Ryoji Ikeda transformed one of the long tunnel walkways into a minimalist sound-and-light installation; the New York-based artist Tom Sachs turned the other one into a skateboard ramp, creating what he described as an airport-scale fallopian tube.


Several pieces evoke the lost glamour of air travel. In the entryway, Daniel Ruggiero of Switzerland has rolled out a portable red carpet to the accompaniment of the flashing cameras of invisible paparazzi, courtesy of the New York artist Ken Courtney. Conspicuously few works addressed the current reality of airport security and surveillance; those that did, like Kendell Geers's ''Security Blanket,'' made of gleaming industrial-strength padlocks, was rather oblique.

 "...a building in which the architecture itself would express the drama and specialness and excitement of travel... a place of movement and transition... The shapes were deliberately chosen in order to emphasize an upward-soaring quality of line. We wanted an uplift."

Saarinen, who died during the six-year construction of the terminal, also said in 1956, when the project began;

"All the curves, all  the spaces and elements were to be of a matching nature. We  wanted passengers passing through the building to experience a  fully-designed environment, in which each part arises from another  and everything belongs to the same formal world."

Hitler's Airport is Closing 

The crescent-shaped Tempelhof Airport in Berlin, one of the few examples of Nazi-era architecture that still exists — and described by the British architect Norman Foster as the “mother of all airports” — is scheduled to close in the fall.

The airport — with its symmetrical lines and vaulted ceilings — was redesigned by Ernst Sagebiel in the late 1930s to inspire awe from arriving visitors. The airport’s closing will tuck away nearly 100 years of history that include Orville Wright flight demonstrations, Nazi rallies and the Berlin Airlift, which transformed Tempelhof from a symbol of repression into one of freedom. Tempelhof’s present phase — a hub for budget airlines — will be its last. It will close to make way for the expansion of the Berlin-Schönefeld International Airport, a former military base, into Berlin-Brandenburg International Airport.

So Remember; Soft irregular lines is the future and Straight symmetrical lines is the past.

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