Saturday, September 25, 2010

I walked the 4 Portman atria today

I hope you can do this walk yourself. Call me if you want company. I don't get tired of it.

While the architecture tourist commandress in chief "took" a meeting downtown today, I walked the 4 Peachtree Center Atria by John Portman & Associates. Opinions are divided on Mr. Portman and Peachtree Center but Mr. Portman is one Atlanta's most consequential men. At nearly 2 million square feet, Peachtree Center has been the name of the game in downtown Atlanta for 50 years.

I started with Portman's first hotel, the Hyatt Regency (1967). Is it old hat now? Not to me. The first of it's kind, a jaw-dropping trendsetter, it put Atlanta on the architectural map. Atrium hotels are commonplace today but the "Regency" holds its own. It's MY atrium hotel.

Next, Portman's tallest hotel (at the time) The Westin Peachtree Plaza Hotel, (1976). I watched them build it. I never thought it beautiful but always thought it huge. You enter the brutailst facade from Peachtree and make your way through a cozy tunnel-like hall to the lobby. My sensation is that I am directly under a 73 story skyscraper and I mean under it. Ride the escalators from top to bottom. Here it is after the downtown tornado.

The Marriot Marquis (1985) atrium is 515 feet of the strangest big space in Atlanta. It's also the very best party room, THE place to be for Dragon Con.

The Sun Trust Plaza (1993) is the tallest building in Peachtree Center. Unless you work there or eat at Mortons I can't think of a single reason that you might have visited. Let me give you a reason: the atrium. The squarish footprint of the skyscraper hovers over the round, light filled lobby, a square in a circle.

In the center, the impossibly arched elevator lobby.

Watch this High Museum video to see how Peachtree Center came together.

P.S. Not all of Portman's atria buildings are skyscrapers. The Dana Fine Arts Building (1965) at Agnes Scott College contains studio spaces, a lecture hall and an auditorium, as well as the Dalton Gallery. It's delightful inside and out. A few details.


  1. LOVE this post as always. Just came from the dining room where I told me husband for the umpteenth time how much I love your blog.

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