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Old 12-30-2017, 06:34 PM   #1
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John Portman, Peachtree Center, Embarcadero Center, Renaissance Center, Dies at 93

I remember following his developments with keen interest. His hotel atriums were widely imitated by other architects as the article states. His architecture was notable and made a splash whether you liked it or not. Edit: referring to his downtown “Centers”.

“Making sense of John Portman”
CityLab, March 5, 2018

Curbed Atlanta, Oct 2, 2017
“First look: Downtown landmark Peachtree Center to be reborn as ‘The Hub’”

Mr. Portman’s cylindrical The Westin Peachtree Plaza hotel

His SunTrust Plaza building (on the right, photo taken from The Westin)

The Architect’s Newspaper
“John Portman’s Peachtree Center is now a Georgia landmark”
By JACKSON ROLLINGS • October 2, 2017

For most Georgians, the Peachtree Center is a defining feature of Atlanta. A transportation hub, a shopping complex, and public plaza densely thatched in by hotels and office buildings, the Peachtree Center is a point of reference in the downtown area. The buildings within the Center were largely designed by John Portman & Associates from 1961 through 1988, beginning with the Atlanta Furniture Mart and expanding outward. It is the largest mixed-use center in one of the most populated cities in the South. Now it has been added to the Georgia Register of Historic Places, a first step towards possible inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places.

Spanning 14 blocks, the Peachtree Center includes the AmericasMart (1957), the Hyatt Regency Atlanta (1967), the Westin Peachtree Plaza (1976), and the Atlanta Marriott Marquis (1985), as well as eight office buildings, retail space, restaurants, and parking garages. Taken together, the complex is a constellation of Portman’s Southern late modernism and exemplifies the developer-architect approach that Portman, now 92, has built.

Visually, the buildings are unified by their precast concrete and reflective plate glass curtain wall panels, as well as poured-in-place concrete elements. Though the Center is criticized by contemporary planners for the 24 suspended glass catwalks that connect buildings but remove pedestrian traffic (and commerce) from the street, the mixed-use, all-in-one typology that Portman pioneered was innovative urban planning in its time. The forbidding brutalist architecture of buildings like the Merchandise Mart and the futuristic cylindrical glass column of the Westin Peachtree Plaza are connected by the infrastructure layering them together.

Portman’s chilly glass facades and plummeting interiors have proved irresistible to film and television producers. The Peachtree Center is frequently featured in sci-fi and fantasy TV footage, as well as films set in the future, including The Hunger Games, Divergent, and The Walking Dead.

As the site has evolved over the past 50-plus years, it has continually been redeveloped even when the surrounding downtown area was beset by economic change. Per Portman’s plan to design supersize spaces to work at the pedestrian scale, the Peachtree Center is today a busy node of Atlanta’s MARTA (mass transit) system and nearby bus terminal, funneling arrivals into an easily accessible network of restaurants, shops, markets, and more.

Last edited by EdMc; 03-07-2018 at 08:18 PM. Reason: Added photos
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Old 12-30-2017, 11:01 PM   #2
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Re: John Portman, Peachtree Center, Embarcadero Center, Renaissance Center, Dies at 9

A tremendous loss for the modernist movement. May his spirit soar as high as his atria. Without Portman redefining how the interior of a building could be arranged, Zaha('s firm) wouldn't be celebrating creating the world's tallest atrium.
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Old 12-31-2017, 09:37 AM   #3
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Re: John Portman, Peachtree Center, Embarcadero Center, Renaissance Center, Dies at 9

Portman was a brilliant man, and a real artist. He got to work on a grand scale, and was up to the task. I don't know that his ethos began as "populist," but many folks who knew nothing of Modernism first experienced the movement in his epic hotel spaces and were moved and inspired by them.

I recall a quote from Julius Shulman's agent, Craig Krull, at the time of the great photographer's passing:

"Modernism is characterized by an optimistic spirit, a belief that the future holds great promise and technology will improve civilization."

John Portman's work embodies that optimism.
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