JetBlue Airlines and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey recently completed a new terminal at JFK International Airport. The new terminal, called Terminal 5 or T5, costs about $745 million to construct and will allow JetBlue to more than double its flights from the airport. T5 will eventually be linked to the landmark Trans World Airlines’s (TWA) Eero Saarinen terminal through two enclosed pedestrian walkways, which the Port Authority is currently renovating.
The design of the terminal had three main objectives: to respect and complement the historic and world-recognized Saarinen TWA building from the outside, to provide an efficient and comfortable experience inside the new terminal, and to design a terminal that reflects JetBlue’s public relations strategy of being a low-cost carrier that recognizes the human side of travel.
To accomplish the first goal, the design team led by Gensler Architects with DMJM Harris/Aecom and Arup, designed a building with delicate lines of metal and glass so as not to interfere with the clear curves of Saarinen’s design. T5 wraps around the old TWA terminal and will have 26 gates for arriving and departing flights.
The 635,000 square feet terminal reflects a design plan developed after September 11, 2001. The departure hall hosts a 340-foot long security checkpoint with 20 security lines. There are places within the screening area that offer rubberized flooring for when passengers take their shoes off to proceed through security.
Most notable to passengers, however, is the lack of large screening equipment that has become commonplace at the country’s airports. The designers were able to take into account the full size of this equipment and it is located out of the view of passengers. Once through the security checkpoint area, JetBlue passengers can take advantage of gourmet food options, free wireless internet, and larger and more comfortable seats in the waiting area. Throughout the interior of the building, durable and more readily available materials were used in order to keep costs down.
The Saarinen terminal has been closed to the public since 2001, but the Port Authority has agreed to invest $19 million in renovations and will eventually open the building to the public. Renovations include asbestos abatement, replacing part of the roof and fixing some concrete tiles. The Port Authority issued a request for development plans for the old terminal facility in 2006, but did not garner any responses. There is some concern about preserving an original lounge, shaped like a trumpet, which was removed so construction work on the new Terminal 5 could begin. Preservation groups want to ensure that the lounge remains intact.
JetBlue’s Terminal 5 opened to the public in September 2008 and expects to be able to handle 250 flights and about 44,000 passengers each day. Now that the terminal is complete, the City is hoping that JetBlue will remain headquartered in the area. The company’s current lease in Forest Hills ends in 2012.