Crossroads of Air and Land

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Day Two Morning Sessions
Crossroads of Air and Land

Session 1
TWA Hotel: Transforming Saarinen’s TWA Flight Center

Session 2
Modernism and Mass Transit: A Bicoastal Review (Double session - BART + METRO)

TWA Hotel: Transforming Saarinen’s TWA Flight Center

Eero Saarinen’s TWA Flight Center is one of the most significant examples of Mid-century modern architecture. Completed in 1962, the Flight Center is literally and metaphorically a crossroads; expressing the idealism, cultural connectivity and technological advancements of the 1960s and embodying design innovations that contributed to the development of air terminal planning worldwide. Conceived immediately before the advent of the jet age, the Flight Center was designed for smaller aircraft and effectively obsolete within a decade of its completion. Undergoing numerous modifications in response to the rapidly changing aviation industry, the uniqueness and inflexibility of Saarinen’s structure did not lend itself to adaptation. Vacant for two decades and threatened with demolition, the TWA Flight Center has been restored and adapted for use as an airport hotel. The 20-year revitalization process reflects changing attitudes to Mid-century modern architecture and the sustainable regeneration of obsolete mid-century transportation buildings.

Modernism and Mass Transit: A Bicoastal Review

BART to the Future

After decades of planning, design, and construction, the Bay Area Rapid Transit system (BART) opened to the public in 1972. The system, like any major infrastructure undertaking, emerged from a confluence of political, geographic, and social issues dividing the Bay Area in the mid-twentieth century. 

The Northern California Chapter of Docomomo US began a research project in 2015 to reveal the history behind much of the system’s design, and accordingly we have hosted various tours on BART every year since. This presentation will share significant findings from our research, but primarily aims to be a discussion about themes, influences, and juxtapositions in Modern transit planning and design. An overview of the following topics will be provided: system history and planning strategies, individual station designs and architects, engineering feats, political and social issues during construction, graphic and industrial design strategies, public art within the system, and preservation and advocacy issues. 

Public Transit & the Modernist Ideal

In 2014, the American Institute of Architects bestowed its Twenty-Five Year Award on the stations of the Washington Metro, noting that the "original Metro stations have become icons of Washington architecture," and that "they are quintessentially modern while maintaining a certain grandeur befitting the nation's capital." At the same time, Metro had been struggling with basic safety and maintenance. Frequent fires prompted one local resident to create the macabrely popular website, and commuters and tourists alike regularly take to Twitter to complain about its dark stations and minimal signage. In response, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) has recently undertaken a series of maintenance and repair initiatives, large and small. The Washington, DC Chapter of Docomomo US has recognized this moment as an opportunity to advocate for a preservation-minded approach to work undertaken within the system's iconic, brutalist stations. This presentation will highlight key findings from research conducted by Docomomo US/DC in support of its tour and advocacy efforts.