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Saarinen's New York airport building set to take flight again

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Eero Saarinen's iconic JFK International Airport building in New York, which has been left to rot for the past five years, is set to be given a new lease of life.

The terminal has sat empty ever since financially troubled airline Trans World Airlines collapsed in 2001, and fears were growing about the future of the 'swooping' concrete gem.

Now the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has announced that it wants to redevelop the building and has given interested parties until the end of the month to submit their proposals.

There are already plans to connect the 44-year-old building with a new Terminal Five, which is being built directly behind Saarinen's terminal for JetBlue Airways and is due to open in 2008. However, this 'link' scheme will barely touch Saarinen's 5,500m 2main hall which was once the home to the famous Ambassador Club, the Paris Café and the Lisbon Lounge.

The authority wants to find a 'thriving use' for this space and to keep the building 'as a centerpiece' of the airport and, it is understood, intends to unveil the winning project in July next year.

Not everyone, though, has welcomed this latest call for a developer-led revamp. New York's Municipal Art Society has branded the approach 'flawed' and claimed that developers will be deterred by the onerous task of maintaining and preserving the existing structure.

by Richard Waite

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