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with Section 106 Section
106 in Action Archive
of Prominent Section 106 Cases New York: Redevelopment of John
F. Kennedy Airport Terminals 5 and 6, New York
Redevelopment of John F. Kennedy
Airport Terminals 5 and 6, New York
Agency: Federal Aviation
Criteria for ACHP Involvement:
- This project would result in the partial demolition of the TWA Terminal,
a unique and exceptionally significant historic property from the
recent past (Criterion 1).
- There is significant controversy regarding the project, which has
sparked negative public comment from across America and several foreign
countries (Criterion 3).
In August 2001, ACHP wrote to the Federal Aviation Administration
(FAA) to convey questions and concerns regarding the proposed redevelopment
of Terminals 5 and 6 at John F. Kennedy Airport and the impact of the
project on the historic TWA Terminal. Of principal concern is the fact
that the proposed rehabilitation of the historic terminal is not functionally
an integral component of the new terminal development, coupled with the
lack of a funding commitment for rehabilitation from the project sponsor,
the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
JFK Airport's TWA Terminal 5, designed by Eero
Saarinen, New York, New York (photo courtesy of New York Port Authority)
ACHP posed questions regarding the possibility of airline or Port
Authority use of the historic building, indicated the need for an aggressive
schedule for seeking a new use, and stressed the need for short-term and
long-term funding commitments. ACHP also questioned the adequacy
of proposed pedestrian access to the historic terminal under the current
plan, particularly since previously proposed tunnel access had been dropped
from the project.
Also in August, FAA agreed to allow a number of parties to join the Section
106 consultation. Organizations that had requested consulting party status
include the New York Landmarks Conservancy, Municipal Art Society of New
York, New York City Partnership, National Trust for Historic Preservation,
and DOCOMOMO-Documentation and Conservation of Buildings, Sites, and Neighborhoods
of the Modern Movement.
An initial meeting of the consulting parties was scheduled for September,
but was canceled in the wake of the terrorist attack on New York. It remains
to be seen how, if at all, the impact of that event on the airline industry
will affect the scope or timetable of this project. The meeting of the
consulting parties has been rescheduled for late October 2001.
To address operational and capacity deficiencies at John F. Kennedy International
Airport, the Port Authority proposes major redevelopment at Terminals
5 and 6. Terminal 5, the TWA Terminal, dates from 1962 and was designed
by noted architect Eero Saarinen. With its wing-like, vaulted roof and
curvilinear interior elements, the building is a masterpiece of modern
The main building is connected to two satellite gate structuresknown
as flight wingsby two raised, oval connector tubes. The property
has been determined to be eligible for the National Register of Historic
Places, despite being less than 50 years old, because of its exceptional
The Port Authority proposes to build a large new terminal behind the
historic terminal and on the site of adjacent Terminal 6. This would require
demolition of the TWA Terminal's flight wings, only one of which (the
earliest) is considered historic, but the connector tubes would be retained
and would tie into the new building. While road access would be retained
in front of the historic building, a new tiered roadway would be built
behind the building to access the new terminal. A new parking garage would
be built across the street from the historic terminal.
Although much of the historic building would be retained, it would be
isolated from the airfield and would (as currently proposed) have no direct
airport use. The Port Authority proposes that the historic terminal be
adaptively used and restored, including removal of all unoriginal additions.
No use has been identified, however, although use as a conference center
has been suggested.
It was originally anticipated that the building would continue to be
used as a terminal during the phased construction of the new facility,
providing time to seek a new use. However, the recent acquisition of TWA
by American Airlines means that flights will cease at the building as
of January 2002, earlier than originally expected.
Initiation of the proposed redevelopment requires approval by FAA to
change the airport's Airport Layout Plan, thus triggering review under
Section 106. The Port Authority entered into consultation with the New
York State Historic Preservation Office, which led to a number of important
project modifications. As a result, the entire connector tubes will be
retained, which was not originally proposed, and the new terminal has
been reduced in height and moved further from the historic main terminal
building. Mitigation measures addressing maintenance, protection, and
reuse of the building were developed.
Following an investigation letter from ACHP, FAA formally notified
ACHP of the project, leading to ACHP's entry into consultation.
At about the same time, formal efforts to solicit public input were launched,
resulting in comments from citizens across the country and internationally
who voiced concerns about the project's impacts.
Staff contact: Druscilla
June 6, 2002
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