Northern & Eastern Downtown / Peachtree Center / Hotels
Winecoff Hotel (now The Ellis Hotel)
176 Peachtree Street, NW
Circa 1913: William L. Stoddart, Architect
133 Carneigie Way, NW
1926: G. Lloyd Preacher, Architect; HB
The Winecoff Hotel was named after its builder and owner, William Fleming Winecoff. The base and top sheathed in limestone and crowned by a powerful detailed cornice are in sharp contrast with the brick shaft of this fourteen-story building. The structure's primary significance is that it led to a nationwide change in fire-safety regulations because of a fire in 1946 that killed 119 people, including Mr. Winecoff. In more recent years it has served as a retirement home and an office building. Completing the triangular city block is the Carnegie Building, which uses the same brick-and-stone color scheme and decor.
Georgia Pacific Center
133 Peachtree Street, NE
1982: Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, Architects (New York Office)
In 1978 Georgia-Pacific, a giant forest-products corporation moved its headquarters to Atlanta from Portland, Oregon. In 1982, the Georgia-Pacific Center replaced Loew's Grand Theater (site of the world premiere of Gone with the Wind), which had recently been damaged by fire. This fifty-two-story, 1.36 million-square foot skyscraper is clad in Texas granite pierced by narrow energy-efficient openings. In this highly visible downtown location where Peachtree Street changes the city's grid and bends to the north toward Midtown, its stepped-back silhouette on the east side makes the Georgia Pacific Center a distinctive landmark in the city's skyline. According to its designers, it was intended as a "design response to the site and varied heights of surrounding buildings." It offers the advantage of a large range of floor sizes with a conventional elevator system.
127 Peachtree Street, NE
1906: Murphy and Stewart, Architects; NR, LB, UDC Award
Set on a triangular lot at the corner of Peachtree, Pryor, and Houston streets, the seventeen-story neo-Renaissance Candler Building, entirely covered in white North Georgia marble, was the tallest and the best-equipped office building in Atlanta at the time of its construction. In this speculative venture, the founder of the Coca-Cola Company, philanthropist Asa Grigga Candler (1851-1929), built a monument to his own success, spending lavishly on the ornamentation, which was supervised by the sculptor FB Miles.
On the outside, decorative sculpture flourishes on the two-story base and on the top three floors, which are terminated by a powerful cornice supported by brackets in the shape of lions. At the street level, each bay features in its center a medallion reproducing the profiles of famous men, among them Shakespeare, Raphael, Buffalo Bill Cody, and Cyrus McCormick. The recessed entrance on Houston Street, which originally gave access to a banking hall, is no longer in use. It is through one of the lateral arched entryways framed by term-supported brackets that the visitor proceeds to the lobby. This space features an extraordinarily free and playful assemblage of early Renaissance motifs. The monumental staircase is supported by bronze birds and fabulous animals crowd its marble banister; a frieze of putti and foliage frames busts of local politicians and literati, such as Sidney Lanier and Joel Chandler Harris, as well as those of Asa Candler's parents, Samuel and Martha. Notice also the letterbox boasting the Candler family coat of arms and motto, ad mortem fidelis (faithful until death) and the marble alligators above the drinking fountain.
AT&T Communications Building
(Southern Bell Telephone Company Building)
51 Peachtree Center Avenue, NE
1929: Marye, Alger and Vinour, Architects; NR
In the prosperous 1920s the Souther Bell Telephone Company envisioned a twenty-five-story setback skyscraper, which would have been by far the tallest building in Atlanta, as its new southeastern headquarters. Such an ambitious undertaking was consistent with the Bell Company's philosophy that a strong design policy was the best means of boosting its corporate image. Unfortunately, with the depression in the 1930s, the building was scaled down to only six floors (subsequent additions in 1947, 1948 and 1963 resulted in a building that is now fourteen stories).
The base of what is now called the AT&T Communications Building in smooth-faced limestone features Art Deco flutings in very low relief and panels with intricate floral and geometric patterns. The elongated and sharply contoured entrance portal on Peachtree Center Avenue is surmounted by an elaborate keystone motif and flanked by stylized human figures (notice also the sharp eagle profiles and metal torcheres on the side). The ornamentation of the AT&T Communications Building was not particularly advanced for the late 1920s, when more colorful and abstract features had become the fashion in New York City.
50 Hurt Plaza, SE
1913, 1926: J.E.R. Carpenter, Architects (New York); NR LB. Renovation 1985: Associated Space Design, Architects and Interior Designers; UDC Award
Trust Company Bank Building
25 Park Place, NE
Tower 1969, Banking Hall 1973: Carson, Lundin and Shaw, Architects (New York City). Columns from the original Equitable Building, 1892: Burnham and Root, Architects (Chicago)
Ten Park Place South Building
10 Park Place South, SE
1932: A. Ten Eyck Brown, Architect; LB
23 Peachtree Street, SE
1937: Ivey and Crook, Architects; LB
The Hurt Building was named after Joel Hurt (1850-1926), the enlightened developer who commissioned Frederick Law Olmsted to lay out Druid Hills and Burnham and Root to design Atlanta's first skyscraper, the Equitable Building, whose columns have been kept on the building's original site in the Trust Company Bank Building plaza. Originally trained as an engineer, Hurt made preliminary drawings for his seventeen-story speculative office tower before entrusting its final design to J.E.R. Carpenter, a New York architect whose eclectic practice included many posh apartment houses on Park and Fifth avenues. The Hurt Building occupies an elongated triangular site. Its front part was erected in 1913, with an apex cut back thirty feet in order to allow a greater window area and more visibility from the heart of Downtown. Begun in 1924, its two wings were completed two year later. The monumental stone base is articulated by stern pilasters, the rotunda at the apex by engaged Corinthian columns. The shaft, in light grey porcelain brick with ocher and green terra-cotta spandrels, is surmounted by an elaborate rotunda, also in terra-cotta. The domed ceiling of the entrance rotunda, which is supported by marble columns, has been beautifully restored, the lobby dramatically enlarged and remodeled.
Two small commercial structures of the 1930s with a restrained but elegant ornamentation complete this tour of the financial district: the Ten Park Place South Building and the Olympia Building (named after Olympia Beach in Florida, a previous venture of its developer Frank Hawkins).
MARTA Peachtree Center Station
Peachtree Street at Ellis Street
1982: Toombs, Amisano and Wells, Architects; Joseph Amisano, Designer; UDC, GAAIA Awards
At the MARTA Peachtree Center Station, trains arrive in a vault 44 feet high and 770 feet long, tunneled through solid rock 100 feet below grade. The existing striated granite, reinforced with steel rods placed in drilled holes, was used as both structural support and natural architectural finish. During the excavation, engineers devised special blasting controls and drilling patterns in order to create a rough-hewn textured surface. The overhead part of the rock arch, which had to be protected with a thin concrete shell, is covered by aluminum acoustical panels with integral lights. Here Piranesi meets high tech, and the contrast between awesome natural elements and sleek man-made materials is very successful.
Macy's Department Store
(Davison-Paxon Department Store)
180 Peachtree Street, NW
1927: Hentz, Adler and Shutze, Architects; Starrett and Van Vleck, Contractors (New York)
In 1925 the southern department-store chain of Davison-Paxon was bought out by R. H. Macy and Company, but in an attempt to maintain the goodwill of the local clientele, the Macy's name was not adopted until the 1980s. The design of the new Macy's Department Store in Atlanta was entrusted to local architect Philip Shutze and Starrett and Van Vleck, a New York contracting firm that had been involved in the design of a number of department stores. Shutze's mark is evident on the exterior. With its base of two-story arched openings (the present canopies are not original to the design), unadorned upper floors, and prominent cornice, the massive block closely follows the prototype of the Italian Renaissance palazzo. Economic constraints dictated the lack of expensive materials and elaborate ornaments. The walls in rough dark brick (marble facing was intended but never installed) are enhanced by limestone trim. On the Peachtree Street facade, uniformity is broken by niches on either sided of the entrances and reinforced by the window pattern above.
One-Ninety-One Peachtree Tower
191 Peachtree Street, NE
1990: John Burgee Architects with Philip Johnson, Architects
A free interpretation of turn-of-the-century neoclassical skyscrapers, this fifty-story granite-clad office tower is a welcome addition to the downtown skyline. Derived from Johnson's AT&T Building in New York City, its monumental arched entryway on Peachtree Street leads into a six-story skylit atrium surrounded by retail space on the ground level. One-Ninety-One Tower is set well back from Peachtree Street in order to be more respectful of the scale of Macy's Department Store across the street. The center of the shaft is recessed to give the impression of two slender towers, which are notched in order to provide for twelve corner offices on each floor and crowned by identical columned aediculae.
Westin Peachtree Plaza Hotel
210 Peachtree Street, NW
1976, Renovation 1986: John Portman and Associates, Architects
On a relatively small site, where the first mansion for the governor once stood, followed by the Henry Grady Hotel, John Portman built the Westin Peachtree Plaza Hotel, a 1078-room, seventy-story concrete structure, which remains (to this date) the tallest hotel in America. A taut cylinder, sheathed entirely in reflective glass, is set above a massive concrete base. Transparent elevators leading to a revolving restaurant and cocktail lounge (which provide spectacular views of the city) run in a glass-walled tube attached to the circular guest tower.
The Westin Peachtree Plaza Hotel epitomizes the way in which John Portman has turned the traditional components of street life inward. Its blockhaus-like entrance on Peachtree Street (the auto entrance is in back, on Spring Street) leads to a five-story atrium surrounding the circular elevator core. This atrium was transformed in the late 1980s when the indoor lake and cocktail lounge "lily pads" were superseded by a post-modern stage set. Described by Portman's publicists as "a modern interpretation of a classic Venetian piazza," the new design lacks the honesty and playfulness of its predecessor. The hotel's massing suggests Portman's later and more elaborate designs, such as the Bonaventure Hotel in Los Angeles and Renaissance Center in Detroit.
209 Peachtree Street Building
(Regenstein's Department Store)
209 Peachtree Street, NE
1930: Architect Unknown
(J.P. Allen Building)
215 Peachtree Street, NE
1928: Morgan, Dillon and Lewis, Architects; NR. Renovation 1989: Turner Associates, Architects
Built by retailers whose large stores were originally located in the Whitehall Street area (the area south of Alabama Street along what has since been renamed Peachtree Street in an effort to encourage development), these two low commercial structures exemplified the move of commercial enterprises to the north that took place in the 1920s. While its base has been altered, the 209 Peachtree Street Building retains the fine Art Deco ornamentation of its upper floors. Notice the monogram of its builder, the Peters Land Company, in the two center spandrels. The contrast between the smooth stone veneer of the piers and the black spandrels, "capitals," and roundels, ornate with stylized floral motifs is quite striking but is not original (the black paint is a recent addition). Across International Boulevard, the recently renovated Cornerstone Building features the same general organization as the 209 Peachtree Street Building, with more conservative, stripped-down classical details.
Peachtree Center Tower
230 Peachtree Street, NW
1965: Edwards and Portman, Architects
Peachtree Center Mall
231 Peachtree Street, NE
1973, Addition 1979, Renovation 1986: John Portman and Associates, Architects; UDC Award
After its hotel atriums, Peachtree Center is best known to architects and the general public for its cluster of office towers. The first to be built was the Peachtree Center Tower, completed in 1965. Its precast concrete panels, which hang from the steel skeleton and frame narrow floor-to-ceiling openings, were duplicated with minor variations in six other towers, ranging in height from twenty-five to thirty-five stories and oriented east to west in an arrangement inspired by New York City's Rockefeller Center (Hofmesiter, Corbett and Hood, 1931-1939). Instead of being distributed among he office towers, shops and other amenities have been centralized in Peachtree Center Mall, which connects four towers below grade (John Portman's offices are located above the mall, in a space originally constructed to house a dinner theater). Of the design features that make reference to Rockefeller Center (the integration of pedestrian outdoor and indoor spaces and a unified facade treatment), the most important, the narrow public promenade opening on Peachtree Street, has lost a significant part of its appeal. In 1986 the drastic renovation of the lower-level food court and retail spaces included enclosure of the sunken garden courtyard (where employees once at their brown-bag lunches under bright yellow parasols) and installation of a transparent canopy along Peachtree Street, which has visually cut off the mall space from the street.
Atlanta Merchandise Mart
240 Peachtree Street NW
1961, Addition 1968: Edwards and Portman, Architects. Addition 1986: John Portman and Associates, Architects
Atlanta Apparel Mart
250 Spring Street,NW
1979, Addition 1989: John Portman and Associates, Architects
250 Williams Street, NW
1989: John Portman and Associates, Architects
Atlanta Gift Mart
230 Spring Street, NW
1992, John Portman and Associates, Architects
Along with the Decorative Arts Center in Buckhead (351 Peachtree Hills Avenue, NE), Peachtree Center's wholesale facilities form the Atlanta Market Center, which is operated and partly owned by John Portman. The requirement for ample and flexible space dictated their gigantic scale. The Atlanta Merchandise Mart, in which John Portman's new concept of wholesale services was first embodied, has more than tripled in size since its original phase was constructed in 1961. The Atlanta Apparel Mart has no fewer than 2.1 million square feet of showroom and exhibition space for the apparel industry. Its concrete exterior conceals a five story skylit atrium in the shape of a hemicycle, with balconies patterned after those in the Hyatt Regency Atlanta Hotel. Reflective glass minimizes the bulk of Inforum, a marketing center for computer and information-processing products and the only one of the above mentioned facilities open to the general public. The latest addition to the Atlanta Market Center is the Atlanta Gift Mart, which sits atop a parking garage designed by Portman in the late 1960s.
Capital City Club
7 Harris Street, NW
1911: Donn Barber, Architect (New York); NR
Founded in 1883, the Capital City Club is the oldest private club in Atlanta. It remains a popular (and exclusive) gathering place for the city's business and professional leaders. The four-story building (the floor above the dentiled cornice is a later addition) was designed by the Beaux-Arts-trained architect Donn Barber (1871-1925) in the dignified and rather severe mode that characterizes prestigious New York City clubs such as the Colony Club (McKim, Mead and White, 1906). Projecting twin porches topped by an elegant balustrade provide a stately base to the entrance facade on Harris Street. Located on prime real estate, the club site has long been coveted by developers.
Hyatt Regency Atlanta Hotel
(Regency Hyatt House Hotel)
265 Peachtree Street, NE
1967: Edwards and Portman, Architects. Additions 1971, 1982: John Portman and Associates, Architects
The 800-bedroom Hyatt Regency Atlanta Hotel was the first major hotel to be built in downtown Atlanta since the 1920s. Since its dramatic opening in 1967, the hotel has added 550 additional bedrooms in two adjacent towers: one is cylindrical and served as a design precursor for the Westin Peachtree Plaza Hotel; the other imitates the original exterior expression. Outside, the concrete mass is crowded by the sci-fi blue dome of the revolving lounge, which once provided a commanding view of the downtown skyline but is now boxed in by more recent high-rise construction. The deliberately low entrance canopy and vestibule give no hint of the spectacular full-height atrium inside. In addition to the traditional registration area, the twenty-two-story skylit courtyard (a design that required changes in the local life safety codes) includes a gigantic aviary, an open cocktail lounge covered by a suspended canopy, the 120-foot sculpture "Flora Raris" by Richard Lipphold, and the exposed glass-enclosed "bubble" elevators that have become Portman's trademark. Dining areas on a more intimate scale are connected to the central "piazza," and meeting and banquet facilities are located on the lower levels. On the guest-room floors, instead of the customary bleak corridors, rooms open on to plant-lined balconies. In effect, John Portman expanded to an unprecedented scale the grand hotel lobbies of such Gilded-Age caravansaries as the Brown Palace in Denver and the Palmer House in Chicago. Eliciting a tremendous public response, Portman's design launched a new formula that he exploited in other hotels for the Hyatt chain and that has been widely imitated.
Atlanta Marriott Marquis Hotel
265 Peachtree Center Avenue, NE
1985: John Portman and Associates, Architects
Marquis One and Marquis Two Towers
245 and 285 Peachtree Center Avenue, NE
1985, 1989: John Portman and Associates, Architects
With 1,674 guest rooms, the Atlanta Marriott Marquis Hotel is the largest convention hotel in the Southeast. Its exterior envelope in poured concrete consists of a low-rise podium and a tower with tapered walls on the north and south sides. The swelling atrium rises forty-eight stories, a height of 515 feet, with a volume of 9.5 million cubic feet. Its gigantic proportions overwhelm Portman's traditional hotel lobby features, including the hanging fabric sculpture by French artist Daniel Frafffin. Each balcony, with its metal railing, looks like the rib of some fabulous prehistoric animal. The Marquis One and Two Towers flank the entrance to the north and south, and as with most of Portman's Peachtree Center buildings, their lobbies interconnect with the hotel for easy pedestrian movement without venturing outside.
One Peachtree Center
303 Peachtree Street, NE
1992: John Portman and Associates, Architects
The sixty-story One Peachtree Center office tower, which includes 32,000 square feet of retail space, was designed as an anchor for the northern end of Peachtree Center. Stressing broad vertical divisions, its exterior in granite of different shades of grey and its faceted pyramid top in reflective glass are in sharp contrast to the concrete slabs of Portman's earlier office towers. The two-story lobby can be entered on any of the four sides through granite pavilions that bridge a circular reflecting pool.
Sacred Heart Church
(Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus)
335 Peachtree Center Avenue, NE
1897: Walter T. Downing, Architect; NR
First United Methodist Church of Atlanta
360 Peachtree Street, NE
1903 Willis F. Denny, Architect
A highly visible and well-preserved landmark, the Sacred Heart Church enabled the Marist fathers to centralize their educational and religious facilities in Atlanta. Its exterior, in warm red brick with terra-cotta and marble accents, epitomizes Walter T. Downing's eclectic approach to architectural design. Elements of the decor - the triple arched-doorway surmounted by a low-pitched gable, the twin octagonal towers, resting on square bases - are loosely patterned after Romanesque precedents, but the verticality is unmistakably Gothic in character. Built of Stone Mountain granite, the Gothic Revival First United Methodist Church of Atlanta hosts the oldest organized congregation in the city. Its pulpit, iron fence, and stained-glass windows are part of the original church of 1847.
401 West Peachtree Street, NE
1975: Toombs, Amisano and Wells, Architects; Joseph Amisano and Ronald Sineway, Designers; UDC, GAAIA Awards
MARTA Civic Center Station
West Peachtree Street at Interstate 75/85 1979: M. Garland Reynolds and Partners, Architects; Welton Becket, Associate Architects (Los Angeles)
Of a planned three-building complex, only the thirty-story Peachtree Summit tower has been built. The form of its faceted base was dictated by the irregular shape of the site. The facades, in cast-in-place concrete and reflective glass, are a straightforward expression of the columnar structure: on three of the corners, triangular "prows" or "handles" serve as balconies; above the twenty-third floor, where the corner buttresses are no longer needed to take wind stresses, they have been glazed and turned into prestigious offices. The three-story public lobby relates to both the lower street level that existed at the time of construction and the new level of West Peachtree Street that resulted from the construction of the MARTA Civic Center Station over the interstate highway.