Airport architecture of the jet era was defined by modernism, intended to be the stylistic cure-all for the world with its beautiful, clean structures that shunned ornament. At first, airports and modernism made perfect bedfellows—the hippest style in the world intertwined with the optimistic, promising future of air travel, which was first coming of age in the late 1950s. Together, the two created the jet era, the vision of air travel propagated through the Pan Am mystique and still recounted by baby boomers today. For those who traveled during this time, the luxury of the jet era cannot be understated.

But the hype didn’t last long—by the 1970s, the jet era was over, and modernist architecture was increasingly labeled sterile, cold, and elitist.

When airports were cool.


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