JFK Airport's Terminal 6: The sad demise of a modern design marvel

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By all accounts, Terminal 6 at NYC's JFK Airport is an architectural gem. Today, however, it sits unused. And soon it won't even exist.


Built in 1969 and designed by the renowned architect I.M. Pei, Terminal Six was a large, bright, airy wing of JFK Airport, emphasizing clean lines and open space. According to the NY Times' CityRoom blog, Pei designed the building around the concept of transparency.

Sophisticated, subtle engineering made this transparency possible. The main pavilion of Terminal 6 has a deep roof truss that rests on 16 enormous cylindrical concrete columns. That eliminated the need for load-bearing walls, which allowed Mr. Pei to design a pioneering all-glass enclosure. One can look straight through the building and out the other side. Rain is drained off the roof through the columns, eliminating the need for any visible ductwork.

And now the slow and painful death of Terminal 6 has begun. Crews have already begun the demolition process and it looks like noone with the power to save it will do so. What's sad is that the building is still structurally sound and could easily be adapted to fit a new need. But JFK officials say that tearing down Terminal 6 will make way for new facilities that will cause less delays and make things generally more efficient. Whatever. [NY Times]