The ARK at JFK is a luxury animal handling facility in NYC scheduled to open in 2016.

JFK Airport Is Building a Luxury Terminal—for Animals

JFK Airport Is Building a Luxury Terminal—for Animals

The Eye
Slate’s design blog.
July 27 2015 11:00 AM

JFK Airport Is Building a Luxury Terminal—for Animals

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The ARK at New York’s JFK Airport is an upscale animal cargo and handling facility scheduled to open in 2016 that includes specially conceived quarters for horses, like this rendering of a waiting room that includes individual climate-controlled stalls.

Courtesy of ARK Development LLC

The incredible shrinking quality of cattle-class air travel makes most of us lowly humans feel like packed sardines.

But things are looking up for animals traveling in and out of New York City.

The ARK at JFK Airport might sound like a luxury hotel for religious pilgrims, but it’s actually a state-of-the-art animal handling and air cargo facility billing itself as “the world’s only privately owned animal terminal and USDA-approved, full-service, 24-hour, airport quarantine facility for import and export of horses, pets, birds and livestock,” according to the developers.

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An alternate view of the export stalls for horses awaiting departure.

Courtesy of ARK Development LLC

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Import stalls for incoming equine passengers.

Courtesy of ARK Development LLC

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A Temple Grandin–designed livestock handling system.

Courtesy of ARK Development LLC

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A loading platform for animals at the ARK at JFK.

Courtesy of ARK Development LLC

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An export staging area at the ARK at JFK.

Courtesy of ARK Development LLC

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The project design is being overseen by the firm Gensler, which recently unveiled a pet-friendly rooftop deck for JetBlue at JFK’s Terminal 5.  

“Gensler is accustomed to designing airports with an eye to fostering wellbeing for people,” said Gensler architect and senior associate Cliff Bollmann in a press release. “The ARK at JFK posed a unique design challenge for us: to create a place that could ease and simplify the sometimes complex process of transporting animals by plane.”

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Reception desk for the ARK at JFK.

Courtesy of ARK Development LLC

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Floor plan for the ARK at JFK.

Courtesy of ARK Development LLC

The $48 million facility, which is being constructed on the site of a 178,000-square-foot cargo building that has been vacant since 2004, is scheduled to open in 2016. It will include climate-controlled departure lounges with food, water, bedding, and natural light to reduce stress on animals being held while their travel documents are processed; a veterinary hospital; a diagnostic lab; and a 20,000-square-foot grooming spa for cats and dogs that includes a bone-shaped canine pool.

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A 20,000-square-foot pet resort and spa run by Paradise 4 Paws will include this bone-shaped swimming pool for dogs.

Courtesy of Paradise 4 Paws

Kristin Hohenadel's writing on design has appeared in publications including the New York Times, Fast Company, Vogue, Elle Decor, Lonny, and Apartment Therapy.