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The end of Sundrome - I.M. Pei’s Terminal 6

Sundrome - Terminal 6 designed by Pei Cobb Freed & Partners,1969. Photo: George Cserna / Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Columbia University

The Sundrome - Terminal 6 at New York's JFK airport is being demolished: The end of a modern masterpiece by I. M. Pei.The building of Terminal 6 at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport opened in 1969 under the name “Sundrome” – in the middle of the jet-set era of the 1960s and early 1970s.

The New York based office Pei Cobb Freed & Partners designed Terminal 6 as a transparent space and an environment for travelers that was to be generous, spacious and simple while conveying dignity.

The transparency of Terminal 6 is made possible by sophisticated and subtle engineering: Load-bearing walls at the main pavilion have been eliminated by deep roof truss resting on 16 enormous cylindrical concrete columns. Rain is drained off the roof through the columns, eliminating the need for any visible ductwork. This structural concept allowed Pei Cobb Freed & Partners to design the building with a pioneering all-glass enclosure and with new visual experience for the visitor: One can look straight through the building and out the other side.

The facade of Terminal 6. Photo: David W. Dunlap/ The New York Times

The interior of Terminal 6 in 1972. Designed by . Photo: David W. Dunlap

While Terminal 6 with its horizontality and simplistic expression is scheduled for demolition to be completed next week, its neighboring building - Eero Saarinen’s TWA terminal - was preserved and rehabilitated by New York’s Port Authority, at a cost of more than $20 million, and is to be incorporated into a hotel and conference center planned on the site.

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