Prepare for Departure: The Demolition of JFK’s Terminal 6

by Tim Young

Terminal 6 at New York’s JFK International Airport does everything great architecture is supposed to do:  merge form and function, stir emotion and imagination, and reflect both its purpose and its time. Calming right angles and pacific horizontality soothes the harried and the nervous traveler, while the structure’s powerfully massive steel roof seemingly supported by diaphanous glass walls speaks of achieving the impossible.

Terminal 6 Interior

Designed by I.M. Pei and built in 1969 – just as President Kennedy’s prediction of a moon shot was coming true – the terminal was the very shape of American hope, expectations and dreams that had ushered in that decade. Its elegant design and ingenious engineering heralded a smooth cultural trip to a technologically graced future.

Terminal 6 SupportTerminal 6 Catwalk

The actual flight to the future we got, of course, was a lot more turbulent. And now, in the interest of efficiency (to make more room for plane parking) Terminal 6 is coming down. In this era of nervous travel, it’s a shame to lose a reminder of what it was like to take an overnight flight, get a good night’s sleep, and dream.

Color photo by George Cserna