MCR and Morse Development top out $265 million TWA Hotel at JFK Airport

January 09, 2018 - Owners Developers & Managers
Shown are MCR’s CEO Tyler Morse, Turner Construction’s Rick Faustini, and Gary McAssey
standing next to the north hotel tower crane with ceremonial flags.

Queens, NY MCR, the seventh-largest hotel owner-operator in the U.S., joined hundreds of construction workers at John F. Kennedy International Airport on Tuesday to top out the TWA Hotel’s first hotel structure. Once complete, the TWA Hotel $265 million project will preserve Eero Saarinen’s TWA Flight Center, adaptively reusing the terminal as a hotel with 505 guestrooms, 50,000 s/f of meeting and event space, and a variety of food, beverage and retail options. One of the largest construction projects in NYC, the TWA Hotel will create 3,700 permanent and construction union jobs, with 300 union construction workers on-site daily. The TWA Hotel is slated to open in early 2019. The project was designed by Beyer Blinder Belle and Lubrano Ciavarra Architects. 

“Since the TWA Hotel groundbreaking with governor Cuomo less than one year ago, our team has been hard at work breathing new life into Eero Saarinen’s TWA Flight Center terminal and developing one of the most iconic hotels in the world,” said Tyler Morse, CEO of MCR and Morse Development. “This topping out brings us one step closer to reviving this treasured landmark and reopening it to the public for generations to come. Thank you to all our partners in government, labor, and construction for their support over this past year—we look forward to welcoming everyone to the TWA Hotel in 2019.”

Featuring an off-grid cogeneration plant, the two low-rise hotel structures are set back on either side of the terminal, designed to defer to the landmark. Saarinen’s TWA Flight Center terminal building will serve as the hotel lobby; at 200,000 s/f the lobby is thought to be the largest hotel lobby in the world. Hotel guests and passengers from every terminal will have access to the TWA Hotel via the AirTrain as well as through the  Saarinen passenger tubes that connect directly to JFK’s Terminal 5.

The TWA Hotel will also house a Jet Age and mid-century modern museum that will chronicle the mid-century modern design era and the rise of the Jet Age, exhibiting mid-century furniture, TWA uniforms, David Klein destination posters, inflight amenities and other TWA memorabilia—much of which has been donated by the TWA employee community.

In September, MCR debuted the TWA lounge located on the 86th floor of One World Trade Center, designed to preview the ethos of the TWA Hotel. Open to the public by appointment, the Lower Manhattan-based marketing and events space features a replica of Eero Saarinen’s legendary sunken lounge, the Italian Solari split-flap board, and a growing collection of TWA and mid-century memorabilia.  

MCR’s redevelopment of the TWA Flight Center, which involves 22 federal, state, and city agencies, is an entirely privately-funded investment. 

 “We are delighted to see the TWA Hotel coming to life on our doorstep at Kennedy Airport,” said Robin Hayes, president and CEO, JetBlue. “This is one of the most highly anticipated hospitality developments in memory and we couldn’t be more excited to have JetBlue be part of it in partnership with MCR. Congratulations on this exciting milestone.”  

Construction workers at TWA Hotel's topping out ceremony.

“The futuristic TWA Flight Center at John F. Kennedy International Airport set the mid-20th-century jet-age standard for terminal design,” said Port Authority executive director Rick Cotton. “The TWA Hotel’s latest topping-out milestone is an exciting milestone for the project as well as for New York and for Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s vision to remake New York’s airports into state-of-the-art gateways for national and international travelers.”

“JFK Airport’s new iconic TWA Hotel is an invaluable investment in the borough of Queens, and the progress in its construction and transformation in just the past year is remarkable,” said Melinda Katz, Queens borough president. “As travelers enter New York City’s gateway to the world, they will soon witness the magic of the Jet Age in one of the world’s most famous mid-century architectural masterpieces, right here in Queens.”

“This milestone development gives New Yorkers and hospitality workers reason to celebrate,” said Peter Ward, president of the New York Hotel & Motel Trades Council, AFL-CIO. “The TWA Flight Center is an iconic piece of New York City history, and once complete, it will be a boon to the city’s hospitality industry.”

“The New York Building Congress enthusiastically supports the adaptive reuse of the TWA Flight Center,” said Carlo Scissura, president & CEO of the New York Building Congress.  “The redevelopment of that space into an on-airport hotel will rectify a major deficiency at JFK, create thousands of jobs, and re-introduce one of the world’s most iconic structures to a new generation of New Yorkers and visitors from around the globe.”

“This construction milestone for the TWA Flight Center Hotel is made possible in part by the labor of local Queens residents,” said Thomas Grech, president & CEO, Queens Chamber of Commerce. “This visionary project is providing thousands with good jobs and ensures JFK Airport remains economically competitive for years to come.”

“This major milestone shows New York can at once pay homage to its history and lead the world in first-class development,” said Bill Rudin, chair of the Association for a Better New York. “The revitalization of the TWA Flight Center will ensure that our transportation hubs are equipped for the 21st century traveler’s needs. JFK airport workers, New York City residents and the millions of tourists passing through the transit hub every year will be able to benefit from this innovative hotel and event space.”

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