June 6, 2012 Charles Goodman

Modern Snapshot: National Airport’s Historic Terminal A

National Airport's Terminal A

Since a  few pictures I posted on Facebook recently of Historic Terminal A at National Airport received a strong response, I thought I would expand on them here in a fuller post. Before striking out on his own to design modern homes, Charles Goodman was a government architect. He designed post offices and other federal buildings. In 1939, he was selected to be the government’s architect to help design National Airport. While Goodman would eventually resign amid bureaucratic meddling in his vision for the airport, elements of Goodman’s original design were retained, including the sweeping lobby of Historic Terminal A. The terminal, which opened in 1941, has a massive, slightly curving wall of windows perfect for viewing the planes taking off and landing. As part of the terminal’s restoration, the airport authority has opened the Exhibit Hall, which is located in a portion of the restored former dining room of the original terminal. Next time you are catching a flight, leave some extra time to view the exhibit, which has a good history of the building. One of the best pieces in the small exhibit is a 1939 model of the original building. The model had been placed in storage in Chicago for almost 60 years ago after the airport’s consulting architect, Howard Lovewell Cheney, gave a presentation in 1940. “The original terminal’s design represented a unique attempt to create a modern structure that integrated architectural references to the Colonial, Neoclassical, Streamline and Art Deco styles,” the exhibit says. “Architects Harbin S. Chandler and Charles M. Goodman were also integral contributors to the design.”

National Exhibit Hall

The Exhibit Hall in National Airport's Historic Terminal A was carved from an original dining room.

National Airport model

A 1939 model of National Airport.