Western Downtown

The Omni
100 Techwood Drive, NW
1968-1972: Thompson, Ventulett and Stainback, Architects; Prybylowski and Gravino, Structural Engineers; GAAIA Award

Jointly owned by city and county, the 377,000-square-foot multipurpose Omni seats 16,500 spectators and was originally built as home to both the Atlanta Flames, a professional ice-hockey team now based in Calgary, and the Atlanta Hawks, the city's professional basketball team. The arena allows flexible seating arrangements for other types of events, including the 1988 Democratic national Convention and numerous rock concerts. The seating bowl is placed on the diagonal axis of a 360-foot square, which improves visibility and increases the number of premium seats. Walls are sheathed in Cor-Ten weathering steel with large glass planes alleviating the corners. Spanning the entire space, four cantilevered wall trusses support an unusual roof structure (an ortho-quad truss" system; which conspicuously incorporates evenly spaced truncated pyramids. The interior plan is successful, but the design suffers from unfortunate siting, which complicates ground-level access and confounds the visitor trying to reach the coliseum through a maze of poorly planned streets.

CNN Center (Omni International)
190 Marietta Street, NW
1976: Thompson, Ventulett and Stainback, Architects; Marvin Housworth, Associate in Charge; GAAIA Award

The components of the CNN Center are differentiated on the outside: two fourteen-story office buildings and a five-hundred -room hotel form massive blocks of Alabama limestone, while the full-height atrium, in weathering steel and bronze glass, dramatically slopes toward the Omni. Placed on a diagonal, a bridge connects the megastructure with the large parking deck erected in 1966. Omni International, which originated while the arena was under construction, was intended as a family recreation center. Its atrium featured not only a breathtaking eight-story escalator (at that time the world's longest), but also an Olympic-size indoor ice-skating rink. When the enterprise first opened, it housed a number of posh retail stores, restaurants, and an indoor amusement park. Unable to bring families back to the central city or compete with shopping and entertainment center in the suburbs, the venture was nearly abandoned until T.V. mogul Ted Turner bought the property, renamed it CNN Center, and moved his broadcasting studios and headquarters there.

Georgia World Congress Center
285 International Boulevard, NW
1976, 1985: Thompson, Ventulett and Stainback, Architects

A convention and trade-fair facility financed by the state, the Georgia World Congress Center was built in two phases. The eastern portion, with its two long sides entrenched between the railroad tracks, was built in the 1970s. Its 350,000-square-foot exhibition hall was at the time the largest single-floor exhibition hall in the United States. Adding one-and-a-half times the original square footage, the 1985 addition includes an entrance pavilion on International Boulevard with a stepped down atrium in glass and weathered steel and a concrete frame pedestrian concourse. As of this writing new additions to the Georgia World Congress Center are in the planning stage.

Georgia Dome
285 International Boulevard, NW
1989-1992: Heery/Rosser Fabrap International/Thompson, Ventulett, Stainback and Associates, Joint Venture Architects; Scott Braley, Project Director, Weidlinger Associates (New York) and Harrington Engineers, Structural Engineers

Enclosing thirty-seven acres of floor space, the Georgia Dome boasts not only a 70,500-seat stadium designed to accommodate the Atlanta Falcons football franchise, but also 120,000 square feet of exhibition space, which is created from sections of the playing field. The Georgia Dome (the third largest domed stadium in North America in terms of seating capacity) was the site of 1994 Super Bowl and various venues of the 1996 Summer Olympics, as well as serve as an extension of the nearby Georgia World Congress Center. On the outside, this double purpose is reflected in the superimposition of the world's largest rigid cable-supported oval dome, with a translucent roofing membrane made of Teflon-coated fiberglass on a corporate-looking base, with metal panels and five-story glazed atrium at each of the four corners. In the stadium, the 850-foot clear span allows close views of the game from any seat. Construction started in March 1990 was completed in August 1992: the accelerated timetable was made possible by overlapping the design and construction phases of the project.