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Saarinen’s TWA Flight Center: An Adaptive Reuse Case Study

Thu, Nov 19, 2020    6:30pm

Saarinen’s TWA Flight Center: An Adaptive Reuse Case Study - A lecture by Richard Southwick

The TWA Flight Center, designed by Eero Saarinen for Trans World Airlines at JFK International Airport, is one of the most significant examples of mid-century modern architecture in the world. Celebrated at the time of its dedication in 1962, the Flight Center was effectively obsolete within a decade of its opening. This talk explores the formal, structural and functional significance of Saarinen’s masterpiece, the evolution of its design, its decline within the changing aviation industry, and the twenty year effort to save the building from demolition and revitalize it as a hotel, restaurant and events center. The TWA Hotel encompasses three new structures arrayed around the Flight Center and restored the historic Saarinen building as the hotel lobby.

Richard Southwick FAIA is a partner and the Director of Historic Preservation at the New York-based architectural firm of Beyer Blinder Belle. Richard is inspired by the time-honored qualities of historic design, materials, and craftsmanship, and has dedicated his career to finding new life for older structures. Much of his work involves civic and institutional projects and includes the restoration of the TWA Flight Center, New York City Hall, the U.S. Capitol Infrastructure Master Plan, Columbia University/Morningside Heights Framework for Planning, Green-Wood Cemetery Facilities Master Plan, The Cooper Hewitt – National Design Museum, Ellis Island Museum - National Museum of Immigration, and the Red Star Land Museum of Migration in Antwerp, Belgium. Richard is a 1978 M. Arch graduate of the Columbia University GSAPP.


Organized as part of the Preservation Lecture Series, an initiative of the Historic Preservation Program at Columbia GSAPP. Free and open to the public. Virtual events hosted on Zoom Webinar do not require an account to attend.

GSAPP is committed to providing universal access to all of our virtual events. Please contact Meredith Brull via email at hp@arch.columbia.edu to request disability accommodations. Advance notice is necessary to arrange for some accessibility needs.