47 years ago, a UFO landed– destined to become a modern icon.
Topping the world’s first modern atrium hotel,
the cobalt blue domed saucer revolved
above an old ATLANTA— a city bursting to become NEW.
POLARIS opened in 1967. Everyone in Atlanta wanted to be there.
As the world found out about it, they wanted to be there, too.
And they all came.
Architect John Portman was busy rebuilding Atlanta.
After the old streetcars were taken away, cars filled the streets and new highways, grand old buildings came down to build new parking garages and parking lots. Atlanta was exploding out to the suburbs. Wanting the center of the city to be preserved, Portman was building towering Peachtree Center offices, an enormous wholesale merchandise mart, and now a new prototype hotel which was to become an architectural icon.
The Hyatt Regency Atlanta was the first modern atrium hotel, built during a time the motor hotel was fashionable. But Portman wanted to bring back the elegance of the hotel, pared down to international modernist lines, adding a sense of excitement that could only be found in Tivoli Gardens in Europe.
It wasn’t an easy feat; several hoteliers refused his plans. But the Pritzker family of Hyatt Hotels agreed to build the first Hyatt Regency in Atlanta, with a 22-story atrium, and glass elevator capsules which zipped up into the ceiling to Polaris, with its 45 minute orbit over the city.
Polaris closed after it was knocked slightly off its platform during a tornado in 2004.
As the coup-de-gras of a $65 million renovation for the Hyatt Regency Atlanta,
next week, Polaris is returning. A celebration is in order.
Perhaps Keaton Maxwell, of This Is It Atlanta says it best,
“After traveling up the Hyatt, there is a millisecond of nothing, then boom, a beam of light and the city of Atlanta. The elevator ride itself is a swift and dramatic hint of the Polaris experience. Do not get me wrong, the decor, atmosphere, music, subtle touches, are all immensely sexy, but it doesn’t take itself too serious. Remember, you’re in an iconic but ever so playful venue that is known for being the “blue spaceship thing”. You look out at the streets and see the hustle and bustle of Atlanta. You see various qualities of the city you’ve never seen before: a rooftop garden, a lively West Peachtree, you’re witnessing the rebirth of downtown, and the vast amount of trees in Atlanta is unparalleled. You never want the Polaris to stop spinning again”.
For the first time in 10 years, on Tuesday, Polaris will once again revolve above the Hyatt Regency.
Designers Johnson Studio have reimagined the restaurant’s design. Where once were rows of tables surrounding the entire circular restaurant, now the space has been divided into four sections, as if you were in the real home of the Jetson’s or the Brady’s. There is a 60’s retro Living Room, a cozy Bar, a chic Dining Room, and a Library where you may want to spend some time.
Chef Pfefferkorn’s plans food with new retro flavors, and locally sourced ingredients– some very local– as the chef has his own garden on the hotel roof and his own bees for honey. Of course, they have their own mixologist for the bar, which will feature the Polaris signature fresh peach daiquiri.