A new rooftop park at JFK Airport will make travelling a lot less painful

Jetblue 2Paul RiveraThe new rooftop park at Terminal 5.

For most people, the real headache of air travel isn’t the flight itself, but the hours leading up to it.

In a bid to make the airport experience less dreadful (and maybe even enjoyable), the architecture and design firm Gensler has partnered with JetBlue to create a rooftop deck available to all passengers — including dogs.

Gensler architect and principal Ty Osbaugh says the idea for a rooftop park was born more from necessity than design.

In 2009, the Department of Transportation began requiring all airports to build designated pet relief areas. The problem with most airports, Osbaugh argues, is that these relief areas were built outside the terminal, before security.

“What that means for the travelling public,” Osbaugh says, “is that if your dog needs to go and you’re transferring flights, you have to come from the secure side back to the land side, use that pet relief area, then go back through security.”

Gensler realised it could eliminate all that hassle simply by moving the pet relief area to the other side of security. Then the possibilities started opening up.

Last year’s expansion to T5, a one-story international wing known as T5i, had ample space that wasn’t being used — on the roof.

“We started planning for that,” Osbaugh tells Business Insider, “and it just kind of grew legs.”

Suddenly, a legal formality for pets was turned into a 4,046-square foot park. It includes a children’s play area made from recycled tires, seating for 50 people, sloped lawns, and views of lower Manhattan.

From the start, Osbaugh says, the intention was to mimic the health-conscious brand ethos of JetBlue. That began with giving travellers a breath of fresh air.

“It may only be for a few minutes between flights,” he said, “but it gives your body that chance to adjust and feel like you’re sane again.”

The park at T5 isn’t the first airport rooftop deck. In five major cities around the world, including Los Angeles and Paris,members of the Star Alliance can visit VIP lounges for a fixed cost. This park is, however, the first to be open to all passengers.

Other airports are starting to take notice.

Most notable is San Diego International Airport, which is trying to create an outdoor park at its own JetBlue terminal, Osbaugh says.

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