No one understood airports quite like Eero Saarinen. His swooping Dulles International Airport turned 50 over the weekend and its uplifting form is still inspiring today. Saarinen was quite proud of it, too, declaring the building “the best thing I have ever done.” The control tower and main terminal building at Dulles opened on November 17, 1962, formally dedicated by President John F. Kennedy. The airport was named for Secretary of State John Foster Dulles. Also, if you’re in Los Angeles, be sure to check out the A+D Architecture and Design Museum’s exhibition on Saarinen, now up through January 3rd.
The airline industry was hit hard by the recession—2011 had fewer takeoffs than any year since 2002. Airports in cities like Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, and Oakland are feeling the effects of that contraction, leaving one-time regional hubs and smaller airports with vacant and underused terminals.
A report on airport building reuse commissioned last year by the Transportation Research Board found enplanements were down more than 60 percent in St. Louis over the last decade. Growing interest in regional rail transit could place further pressure on smaller airports to get creative with their extra space, especially as they face costly demolition bills and shrinking revenue.
Terminal 6 has been on Death’s Row at least since June 2010. So why are so many aflutter now? It’s an old adage but a persistent one: It hasn’t happened until the New York Times reports it, or until there’s a television tie-in as newsworthy as the cheesy jet set-orama, “Pan Am” on ABC.
A small, twisting airport in Mestia, a medieval town in the Democratic Republic of Georgia manages to capture the essence of the UNESCO World Heritage Site’s ancient stone defensive towers while still standing on its own as a skyward-reaching modern structure.