ATLANTA, the un-abashed southern center of “big-city-ism”
has reached it’s oh-so-transparent target.
Since the 1960’s, and even many decades before, Atlanta has professed its plan to grow beyond being the capital of the south, as America’s next international city– and global city.
For years, nay-sayers complained Atlanta was the capital of sprawl– and they weren’t so wrong– about its unbridled super-growth nature. Still, Atlanta has been, for decades, the largest and most important arts center in the southeast, as well as being the continually-growing nexus of all-things-business.
Today a city of almost 6 million citizens, Atlanta is expected to be the 5th largest technology center in the US (Forbes) and is already the 3rd largest film/television capital– in addition to it’s being the capital of financial technology and international logistics.
Currently, Midtown is exploding with everything high-tech as world-acclaimed Georgia Institute of Technology jumped the I-75/I-85 connector. Scores of tech companies have relocated here, including the international headquarters of NCR, bringing with them, many thousands of high-paying jobs.
The population of Midtown is exploding with 17,000 new luxury apartments built in 2015 and 2016, and many more under construction. And, that’s only in Midtown, not to mention Atlanta’s other sub-markets, which are cities unto their own–Downtown, Buckhead, Perimeter, Cumberland, Sandy Springs, Alpharetta, and other population core areas which are being rebuilt into walkable nouveau urban areas.
The US census estimates the Downtown Atlanta growth to be more than 10%, while New York and Chicago are experiencing reducing populations. Recent studies have verified that New Yorkers and Chicagoans have been moving to the Atlanta metropolitan area for decades.
Also, international Atlantans have increased to 14%, with the largest Japanese population in the US.
Neighborhoods all over the metropolitan area are being rebuilt in the urban mixed-use style. Many Atlantans can now walk to restaurants, shops, as well as, their offices.
The other urban-design trend that has taken Atlanta by storm is the proliferation of urban trails that criss-cross the city. The internationally-acclaimed Atlanta BeltLine, an under-construction 22-mile trail and transit line which will encircle the inner city, has been so loved, that it has spawned trails all over the huge 8,376 sq. mile metropolitan area which has over-grown northern Georgia, and has almost connected to Chattanooga, TN.
“Atlanta is an “alpha-” or “world city”that exerts a significant impact upon commerce, finance, research, technology, education, media, art, and entertainment. It ranks 40th among world cities and 8th in the nation with a gross domestic product of $270 billion”
according to Wikipedia and other sources.
The pinnacle of innovation in Atlanta’s Tech Square:
CODA will be unlike anywhere built before:
“A premier mixed-use development with 645,000 square feet of office space, Coda will serve as the core of collaboration and pinnacle of innovation in Midtown Atlanta’s Tech Square. With a first-of-its-kind Class T office environment, Coda is designed to facilitate interactions between start-ups, Fortune 500 companies, university affiliates, researchers and students. The project combines creative workplace design with cutting-edge research labs, comfortable communal spaces, industry event space, as well as unique retail concepts and restaurants/bars.
Delivering in 2019, Coda will provide companies the rare opportunity to co-locate with others who are embedded in the Georgia Tech innovation ecosystem — home to some of the top engineering and computer science programs in the world. Technology pioneers and enthusiasts alike will intermingle on Coda’s campus, evoking an undeniable vitality.”
From Ga Tech Codatechsquare.com
ATLANTA has already exceeded any expectations, yet is a city with a positive attitude for growth and continual improvement.
was the International Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts, held in Paris. Art Nouveau was a style popular in Europe for a few years before the Expo, but afterwards, the style became popular all over the world– anywhere people wanted to exhibit optimism and luxurious style. Thus the style of Art Deco was born.
The style fit Atlanta’s exuberant and aspirational nature perfectly, so it was quite popular here from 1925 to 1940.
As a center for commerce, we will first take a look at Atlanta’s Art Deco commercial architecture.
In 1928, construction began on the Southern Bell Telephone & Telegraph building, now the AT&T Communications Building. First designed to be 25 floors, the Depression delayed it to several construction periods to bring it up to its final 14 floors. The building’s limestone and stepped forms are reminiscent of New York skyscrapers of the period.
Regenstein’s was a ladies fine fashions department store. The building remains on the corner of Peachtree and Andrew Young International Blvd., downtown.
Further south along Peachtree, at Five Points, The William-Oliver Building was built in 1930 by architect Francis Palmer Smith.
Many of Atlanta’s civic and government buildings were constructed in Art Deco’s various styles. The most monumental of them all is the Atlanta City Hall.
Some residential buildings were built in the Art Deco styles, and some were quite amazing– like this home on Peachtree Battle Drive.
Perhaps the most extravagant Art Deco buildings were the film palaces, and Atlanta had more than it’s share of them.
Most were clustered at the old theatre district, where Margaret Mitchell Square and Peachtree Center are today. They are almost all gone, including the Lowe’s Grand Theatre, where Gone With The Wind premiered in 1939. The Lowe’s Grand Theatre was originally the DeGive’s Opera House. Also lost were the Erlanger Theatre, Paramount Theatre, Palace Theatre, Bijou Theatre, and Roxy Theatre.
But, thanks to the work of many 1970 Atlantans, the
Fabulous Fox Theatre
still thrives today.
Also, the Buckhead Theatre, and Plaza Theatre
And, of course , the Art Deco Diners:
In the 1980’s through today, Atlanta has experienced a resurgence of buildings that have some of the qualities of, or could be considered as, neo-Art Deco, and are exceptionally notable:
The 3rd Annual Georgia Globe – Atlanta Design Awards
2016 was another awe-inspiring year for design, development, and construction in metropolitan Atlanta.
The city is exploding with new skyscrapers, culinary attractions, and residential towers; their designs have been heightened, and are pace-setting.
Atlanta has so manyscores of important and very expensive projects proposed, in design development phases, and under construction, this process of highlighting ‘the best’, is increasingly difficult (happily).
The following projects were selected for their excellence in design, civic importance, and/or exhibition of the aspirational Atlanta Spirit.
They were chosen, painfully,by my team of one. Please feel free to comment… maybe, one day, this will be a more democratic process. In the mean time, enjoy some great Atlanta projects– all nominees are winners!
The categories are:
10. Top New Project Announcement Award
9. Top Historic Reuse Project
8. Top Project Under Construction
7. Top Transportation Project
6. Top Project Most Likely to Remain Unbuilt
5. Demolition of the Year
4. Top Retail Project
3. Top Restaurant Design
2. Icon for Generations Award
1. all leading up to… the 2016
Georgia Globe Design News – Atlanta Project of the Year
Top New Project Announcement Award
Last year’s winner of the Top Project Announcement 2015 was JPX Works’ condo tower, Emerson, 2520 Peachtree Road, Buckhead for its excellence in design. It will be under construction soon. Emerson’s sister tower, Lili, is already under construction in the Fox Theatre Historic District, Midtown.
This year, the nominees for Top New Project Announcement are:
1105 West Peachtree, $400 million, 17-32 floors, office/residential/hotel/retail, Midtown, by Rule Joy Trammel Architects and Selig Enterprises
The Charles condominiums, 18 floors, Buckhead Village, by Lord Aeck Sargent Architects, and Loudermilk developers
Star Metals office/retail building & apartment building, Howell Mill Road, Westside by Chad Oppenheim & Warner Summers Architects and Allen Morris Co. developers.
Opus Place, condos/ corporate suites/ retail, 74 stories, 14th Street, Midtown, by Perkins & Will Architects and Olympia Heights Management developers
Solis Hotel at Porsche North American headquarters, Atlanta Aerotropolis, by HOK Architects and Capella Hotel Group
Colony Square Mall renovation at 14th & Peachtree, Midtown, by Beyer Blinder Belle Architects NY and North American Properties
1122 Crescent Avenue, an SLS Hotel & condos, 42 stories, Midtown, by SBE architects and Trillist developers
Woodruff Arts Center $100 million renovation, Peachtree St, Midtown, TVS Design
Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport‘s $6 billion expansion– befitting of the world’s only airport to exceed 100 million passengers in one year. Virtually every portion of the airport (and beyond) is part of the design program.
Tough category, all are beautiful projects…
And the Top New Project Announcement 2016 winner is
for it’s soaring minimalist modern design and the audacity to reach for the skies in true Atlanta Spirit.
Top Adaptive Reuse Project Award
Last year’sAdaptive Reuse Project Award winner was the Microsoft Innovation Center and restoration of the 1897 Flatiron Building, Peachtree St, Downtown Atlanta
2016 Nominees for Top Adaptive Reuse are:
North + Line residential & retail at the BeltLine & historic Excelsior Mill, Old 4th Ward, by Smith Dahlia Architects and Southeast Capital Partners
Stockyards Atlanta will offer entertainment/office/retail in the historic Old Miller Stockyards, Brady Avenue, West Midtown, by Ai3 Architects and Westbridge, developer.
The Byron Lofts & retail, 549 Peachtree St, Downtown, by Plexus R+D Architects
Atlanta Dairies mixed-use entertainment redevelopment, Memorial Drive, Grant Park, by Perkins & Will and Paces Properties.
And the Top Historic Reuse Project 2016 winner is
North + Line
Top Atlanta Project Under Construction
Last year’s Top Atlanta Project Under Construction Award went to
City Springs, the new city center for Atlanta’s most important suburban city, with government offices, residential/ retail/ performing arts center, Roswell Rd At Johnson Ferry & Mount Vernon Rd, Sandy Springs
The 2016 Nominees are:
NCR World Headquarters, 22 stories, Spring Street at 8th, Tech Square, Midtown, by Duda Paine ArchitectsThe two towers are connected by a transparent, welcoming, indoor/ outdoor experience for neighborhood techies.A view of NCR World Headquarters from the I-75/I-85 Connector
Hanover Midtown, apartments/office/retail, 29 floors, Peachtree St at 7th, by Solomon Cordwell Buenz (Chicago)
CODA High Performance Computing Center, Tech Square, Midtown, by John Portman & Associates
One Museum Place, condominiums, across Peachtree from the High Museum, by Mack Scoggin & Merril Elam Architects (Atlanta) and John Weiland developerOnce slated for a skyscraper, the developer opted for pedestrian scale and excellent design quality, adjacent to one of Atlanta’s best historic neighborhoods, incomparable Ansley Park.
Ascent Midtown apartments/hotel/retail, 24 stories, West Peachtree Street, Midtown, by R2L: Architects (D.C.) and Greystar developers
Mercedes-Benz Stadium for NFL Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta United FC, the “best new NFL stadium”, with its operable oculus roof and ovular jumbo-tron video screen, the structure is about 30 stories tall, $1.7 billion, near Centennial Olympic Park, Downtown Atlanta, by Bill Johnson of 360 Architecture
lili residences/retail, 24 stories, Peachtree at 3rd St, Fox Theatre Historic District, Midtown, by ODA: Architecture and JPX Studios
And the Top Atlanta Project Under Construction 2016 winner is:
High Performance Computing Center / Tech Square for its high impact, technology driven design, massive computing abilities, and new center for Atlanta’s exploding technology companies from all over the world.
Top Transportation Project
Last year, the Top Transportation Project Winner was Keith Parker’s major turnaround of Atlanta’s MARTA system.
The 2016 Nominees are:
Atlanta Regional Commission’s approved $1 billion plan for cyclists and pedestrians.
Atlanta voters for approving a $3 billion plan for pedestrian, transit and transportation projects (MARTA and Atlanta BeltLine)
And the Top Atlanta Transportation Project 2016winner is:
The Atlanta Voter’s approval for Transportation 2016
Top Project Most Likely to Remain Un-built Award
Last year, the 98 14th St mixed use triple towers was crowned. Well, I was both right and wrong. The project, as designed by Arquitectonica, Miami, was cancelled. However, the new design, now called Opus Place, will be twin towers, nearly the tallest in Atlanta, designed by Stevens & Wilkinson, and, hopefully, very likely to be built.
The Nominees for Most Likely to Remain Unbuilt 2016 are:
Sandy Springs Park over 400 Highway Cap, Johnson Ferry Road, Fulton County
Gateway Pedestrian Bridge, Peachtree Corners, Gwinnett County
Campanile Addition of 6 floors to the existing 21 story tower & street retail, 14th & Peachtree, by Dewberry Capital
And the Top Project Most Likely to Remain Unbuilt 2016 winner is:
Gateway Pedestrian Bridge at Peachtree Corners
“Walk like a Gwinnettian”, yes, sorry, we sang that in the ’80’s. But, come on… Gwinnettians don’t really walk. Sorry for my cynicism. It’s beautiful! Go ahead, build it and they will come!
Demolition of the Year Award
Last year was a terrible tie, for the razing of Glenridge Hall, Sandy Springs,
and The Hulse House, a 20th century masterwork by by Anthony Ames, Architect
This year, we have much happier results, seeing the likely saving of
Spring Hill Memorial Chapel by Philip Shutze, 1928, Spring Street, Midtown (lifespan uncertain)
Trust Company Bank, Monroe Drive Branch, by Henri Jova (lifespan uncertain)
And, the full preservation of both The Candler Building (Coca-Cola), to become a Curio Hotel by Hilton, Downtown
and the Briarcliff Mansion (Coca-Cola, again), to become a boutique hotel at Emory University, Druid Hills
Alas, though, we did lose…
…the memorial to one of the very first homesteads, in 1822, of the Todd Family, with one of the oldest gravesites…
… in, what would become, only 194 years later, the Alpha- City of Atlanta– 36th most important city on Earth (according to Global Cities: 2010 Rankings).
Anyway, the Demolition of the Year Award 2016
goes to– the Jack Holes– that destroyed, forever, an important piece of Atlanta history, be it ever so very humble.
In true American spirit, they are being sued…
Top Retail Project of the Year Award
Last year’s winner was Restoration Hardware Gallery in Buckhead
The nominees for 2016 are:
Phipps Plaza renovations, the 1969 shopping palace, which was upgraded, again for 2016, giving it a new, more urban face toward Peachtree Boulevard.
Westside Atlanta district: “real”, new retail, including Westside Provisions/ Howell Mill Rd / Marietta Street
Skyline Park, The Roof at Ponce City Market, although not “strictly” a retail project, Ponce City Market, a food hall and marketplace of national proportions, has added a rooftop entertainment deck to amplify the fun factor while shopping.
So, the 2016 Retail of the Year Award goes to:
Ponce City Market
(again, it wins so many awards…)
Top Restaurant Design of the Year Award
Last year, honors went to Ford Fry’s drop-dead gorgeous Bar Margot at the Four Seasons Hotel Atlanta, 14th St, Midtown
As per Zagat, “Atlanta has always been home to some rather stunning restaurants and bars, spaces so jaw-droppingly gorgeous that they almost — almost! — lend credence to the expression “eat with your eyes first.”
And chefs hate that, but people love it!
For 2016, the nominees for Top Restaurant Design of the Year Awardare:
Himitsu, the lauded, surreptitious, cocktail lounge and sushi bar, One Buckhead Plaza, at Loudermilk Park, designed by Tom Dixon and chef Fuyuhiko Ito
Umi Sushi, modern Japanese, near Himitsu, Buckhead, also by Tom Dixon
Cape Dutch, sophisticated South African Steakhouse, Cheshire bridge Road, Morningside/Lenox Park, designed by Kelly Anthony and chef Philippe Haddad
The Mercury, “a cocktail-focused, classic American eatery,” mid-century modern meets industrial Ponce City Market, designed by Square Feet Studio and chef Mike Blydenstein
Marcel, 1920’s French boxer theme, Howell Mill Rd, Westside, by designer Elisabeth Ingram, chef Ford Fry
Amer, fine cocktails and savory bites, Inman Quarter, Inman Park
And, the winner for Top Restaurant Design of the Year Awardis
Icon for Generations Award
Last year, Richard Meier’s HIGH Museum of Art at the Woodruff Arts Center, Midtown, with Renzo Piano’s perfectionist additions.
This year, we would like to honor
The Hyatt Regency Atlanta, 1967 , by John Portman
which transformed the design of hotels, perhaps, forever. It remains a masterpiece.
The first runner up for 2016 Project of the Year is Buckhead’s Central Park over highway 400.
And finally… the highest Georgia Globe Design News- Atlanta Design Award
2016 Project of the Year
The Stitch, a cap over I-75/I-85 highways, connecting Midtown and Downtown Atlanta
Congratulations, everyone, good design helps all people.
Since before the turn of the 20th century, Atlanta has been a laboratory for New York, Chicago, and local architects alike, to experiment with new building techniques– like early skyscrapers and modern styles.
Although not easily perceived by new transplants, Atlanta has been on the cutting-edge of design for over a century.
Bradford Gilbert, the architect now known for designing the first steel-framed curtain wall building in New York, designed Atlanta’s Flatiron Building, completed in 1897, five years prior to New York’s more famous Flatiron Building.
When elevators and steel frame construction were the newest technology, architects were fast to implement the new ideas into Atlanta buildings. The pace-setting Chicago-style skyscraper, made famous by Louis Sullivan, was popular in Atlanta, and can be seen in the upper floors of the (1901) steel-framed Empire Building at the corner of Marietta and Broad Streets. It was the first steel-framed building and the tallest in Atlanta (until 1906), as well as, one of the tallest in the world. Later, acclaimed Atlanta architect, Philip Shutze, redesigned the lower floors in elaborate neo-classical style for Citizens & Southern National Bank (Bank of America).
The 1920’s brought Art Deco modern style all over Atlanta– from office buildings, to department stores, to City Hall.
From architecture, to retail store design, to fashion, Atlanta has always been very current. Rich’s founders brought Paris’ latest fashions to Atlanta in the 1870’s, and Rich’s kept Atlantans always in the know of the latest style into the millineum. Also, Davisons was Atlanta’s other home-town department store, although it was owned by R. H. Macy since 1926– so New York fashion was never far away.
The 20’s Southern Bell Long Lines Building is still standing downtown.
In the 1940’s, the Art Moderne and International Styles took over… new modernism was constructed all over the city.
Googie signs of the atomic age were place makers in suburban Atlanta in the late 50’s, early 60’s. What was once the popular popular Broadview Plaza shopping center, has now become the transit-oriented district of Lindbergh, in Buckhead.
The 1966 C&S (Bank of America) Branch, on Roswell & Wieuca Roads, still extant, by Kenneth Johnson, Architect– simple on the outside, but look at the striking interior!
The predominate push for creating walking city centers with public transportation has reached a particularly high level in North Atlanta– especially at
Sandy Springs, Perimeter Center, & Dunwoody.
The Big One came this week, with the re-announcement of the High Street mega-development at Perimeter Center in Dunwoody.
Originally announced in 2005, the 42 acre site is across the street from the Dunwoody heavy-rail MARTA station. Developers say it will total 8 million square feet at complete build-out– with a million feet of office space, 400,000 sq ft of retail/restaurant, a 750-room hotel, and 3000 residential units. The buildings look to be preliminarily 8-14 stories mostly, with a 30-story tower or so.
The outstanding element, other than the grand scale of the project, is it’s urban design. The site has been divided into walkable blocks with a main oblong boulevard surrounding a central green. Unusual for Atlanta, it actually has a main axis and central focal point. Other than the Beaux-arts layout, the new design shows more modernist leanings than the last design– with a hint of Art Deco and neo-industrial. Many trees, green spaces, plazas, and water features humanize the monumental scale.
I like that the design looks like different buildings have been designed by various architects over time, the way a real city grows. Now, whether they can actually pull that off is yet to be seen.
The Perimeter Center district lies about half in Sandy Springs and half in Dunwoody,
with a bit to the south in Brookhaven, but its all Atlanta. That makes odd sense, I know. The area may be the top office sub-market in Atlanta, with Downtown, Midtown, Buckhead, and Cumberland close behind.
Atlanta gets many more office buildings than most cities, because it is such an important business hub. It is home to the nations fourth highest number of Fortune 500 companies in the US.
Across the street, State Farm Insurance is under construction with its mega-office center. Currently it is building a 26-story tower, but the 17 acre walkable campus will be 2.2 million sq ft when completed. Plans included retail and hotel, but may be in flux.
Perimeter Mall just announced a 16-story office building of their own on the same corner, nearly, as the two projects above, with MARTA at the center.
The foreground of the picture above is the site of proposed 1201 Hammond Drive, which includes 780,000 square feet of office space, 300,000 square feet of retail space, a 350-room hotel, and 200 residential units.
Hines Ravinia, also, plans 37,000 square feet of retail space to accompany the office campus designed by architects Kevin Roche & John Dinkeloo back in the 80’s, now designed to make its area more walkable.
Over in Dunwoody Village, the original 1970’s ersatz Williamsburg commercial center of the residential bedroom community has been newly planned to look a bit like Georgetown, in D.C.
Good luck with that… it may happen, just will take a few years, like everything.
Just across GA-400, in the Sandy Springs portion of Perimeter Center, three mid-rise luxury apartment buildings and townhouse rows are completed or under construction.
One MARTA Station north is the Sandy Springs station
with several proposals around it. The largest is a Chinese backed mixed-use redevelopment of 1117 Perimeter Center.
The post-modern pink granite hexagonal office building was, incidentally, built on top of my buddy’s home while growing up in the 60’s and 70’s. He was the preacher’s son at my family’s church. At the time, it was a new subdivision of traditional two-story homes. We sometimes ate at the Morrison’s Cafeteria of newly opened Perimeter Mall after church on Sundays.
I digress, but a few years later, the neighborhood and the church were all gone. Today, 5 skyscrapers are planned with retail around the hexagon.
Just across GA-400, Mercedes-Benz is building their new modernist North American headquarters.
And a couple of miles west is the center of 1950’s-60’s suburb,
Sandy Springs, which is being re-built as brick modernist City Springs. It is under construction at the intersection of Johnson Ferry, Mt. Vernon, and Roswell Roads. Sandy Springs just became a city a decade ago, and did not need a “downtown”, previously, because
Downtown Atlanta was it’s downtown, 13 miles south.
But, building a walkable village will be a wonderful addition to the area. Having too few upgrades since it’s 1960’s shopping plazas, it was rundown and really needed updating. In fact, Roswell Road was already so ugly back then, when I was a teen, that Sandy Springs was called the “Golden Ghetto”!
The central fountain of the new retail district.
In the plan above, you can see a major part of Sandy Springs planning is for transit in addition to the 3 MARTA stations they already have. Studies are being made for monorails, pods, and gondolas to connect with MARTA and possibly transit in Brookhaven, Chamblee and Dunwoody.
Eight miles north-east, even Peachtree Corners is planning a small downtown area, across Peachtree Industrial from The Forum Shops, and to be connected by an “iconic” pedestrian bridge. The 5 preliminary designs for the bridge are shown.
Although Peachtree Corners is building to become more walkable, it has no current plans for transit.
Come with me on a wonderful journey back to 1996, and the years leading up to the time–
when Atlanta had its most extravagant global coming out party.
Two months from now, Atlanta will celebrate the Twentieth Anniversary of the great Centennial Olympic Games.
As a retrospective, and because there are so many new Atlantans, it’s important to understand the setting. Atlanta, in the late 1980’s, was a very different place.
Coming-of-age Atlanta was in the middle of the biggest building boom of its history, thus far.
This particular development boom is the one that brought many landmark towers, museums, as well as scores of other buildings. In 1985, the AtlantaMarriott Marquis was completed with it’s sculptural atrium– the tallest in the world. In 1987, Midtown proudly welcomed Phillip Johnson’s One Atlantic Center, the Campanile, 999 Peachtree, and in Buckhead, the Atlanta Financial Center was built over a tunnel for the future GA-4oo highway extension.
Also, in 1987, the talk around town had begun–
“should Atlanta bid for the Olympics?!”
In 1988: One Buckhead Plaza, the J.W.Marriott at Lenox, Resurgens Plaza, and, finally, the ATL Airport was connected to MARTA. In 1989, the Fuqua Conservatory at Atlanta Botanical Garden, Michael Graves’ Ten Peachtree Place, The Peachtree, Promenade II, One Capital City Plaza, and the grand re-opening of Underground Atlanta.
Most of these skyscrapers from 1985-1990 were between 18 and 50 story towers. Can you imagine Atlanta without these structures, and the newer ones since? Now you are getting the idea of Atlanta before the Olympics.
Of course, with the boom, came destruction of old Atlanta landmarks like the three Pershing Point apartment buildings, including Atlanta’s unique version of the artsy, irreplaceable Chelsea Hotel in New York.
the 191 Peachtree Tower, by Phillip Johnson, had just been completed in Downtown Atlanta. The Braves had not yet experienced their golden decade of Division Titles and World Series games.CNN was a decade old; the Turner empire was flourishing.
Two years prior, in 1988, while Atlanta hosted the Democratic National Convention,
Rob Lowe made the very first, infamous, sex tape, in the nearby Atlanta Hilton, after partying at the latest hot nightspot downtown, Club Rio.
And, in 1990, the city of Atlanta’s population was less than 400,000– with the metro area just below 3 million. But, even then, Atlanta was a fast-moving, cosmopolitan city which fully believed it could rival any other.
It was an explosively exciting period of life in ever-changing Atlanta,
as it grew to be a big city with great new restaurants, many clubs– including after-hours clubs (Backstreet was pouring 24 hours)– and cool art openings. I lived at Colony Square and took the MARTA subway to Peachtree Center where I worked. We were living the dream, and loved our superbly enjoyable and chic city. At the time Atlanta was continually winning America’s Best lists, for business, lifestyle, and the arts.
Of course, one of the times I was travelling to Manhattan, one sarcastic queen had to ask “if we actually had restaurants there?” We “actually” did have many great “nouvelle cuisine”, “new southern”, and other lively urban restaurants with great food. We were lucky to have experienced the best new restaurant openings, continually.
It was different, however, than today’s foodie-haven Atlanta.
Even with all of the newly beautiful buildings, Downtown, Midtown, and Buckhead Atlanta were still nearly covered with bare parking lots. Way worse than it is today. Virtuallynone of the condominiums that line Peachtree Street and the other streets of Midtown had been built. Yet many of the fine old buildings, along with most of the gay bars, had already been demolished from Midtown, with the promise of new developments.
With the announcement coming, much of the talk, in 1990, was whether Atlanta could possibly get the Olympics.
We all knew it was a total longshot because it was the 100th anniversary of the modern Olympic Games, so Athens would be the obvious choice. Also bidding were lovely Belgrade and Manchester, and the gorgeous, built-up cities of Melbourne, and Toronto.
Nevertheless, Atlanta was very excited about the prospect of the Olympiad; the highly savvy, hospitable committee had worked hard for three years to make it happen.
After all, in aspirational Atlanta, anything is possible. For well over a century, we have recognized it as the Atlanta Spirit.
On the morning of September 18, 1990, a huge crowd awaited at Underground Plaza– every television set and radio was tuned in to hear the much-anticipated announcement!
Moments passed slowly, as IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch announced from Tokyo:
the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games
will be held in
A-a-a-a… (we waited to hear …thens!)
But, as he slowly enunciated, he said
Words are unworthy to express the emotions; we actually stopped on the I-75/I-85 Connector and ran around our cars, honking and yelling! It was an amazing moment. (In truth, we were already stopped in the morning traffic, but, still…running around on the Connector? Crazy, but it was ok, we were so happy!)
Where were you, when the announcement was made?
The Atlanta Journal headline said it all…
There were ticker-tape parades…
Then, six long years of anticipation.
In those years, the Georgia Dome, SunTrust Plaza, Bank of America (topping out at a whopping 1023 ft– the tallest outside of New York and Chicago), the GLG Grand/Four Seasons, Westin Buckhead, Georgian Terrace Hotel Tower, Fernbank Museum of Natural History (the first Natural History Museum in the 20th century), and Michael C. Carlos Museum of Antiquities at Emory University, and many other buildings and urban design projects were completed in the six years before the Olympics.
Oh yes, and all of the Olympic venues which were renovated or built specifically for the Games.
Some think that Atlanta should have built more outstanding architectural icons– structures which had become de rigueur for the Games.
There is a reason for that. The Atlanta Games and Venues were paid for only by corporate sponsorships and ticket sales. The U.S. Government funded all security. About $500 Million of taxpayer bonds upgraded streetscaping, roads, built Centennial Olympic Park, an expansion of the airport, public transportation improvements, and public housing projects– all of which were sorely needed regardless of the Games.
This was a feat of genius. Too many cities and governments have overspent and are left with Olympic white elephants.
Of course, I would have loved some architectural marvels, but most Atlantans were happy enough with the highly functional venues, along with all of the beautiful buildings which had been built in the decade prior.
The City of Atlanta had been rebuilding city sidewalks and replacing the old warped creosote pine tree light and electric poles with the new “Atlanta-style” street lamps. Trees Atlanta had planted thousands of oak trees along the city streets.
The last major venue to be conceived, and undoubtedly the most successful, was Centennial Olympic Park.
Almost an afterthought, a group of Atlanta’s young involved businessmen, and, as luck would have it– I was present too, as a young Atlanta architect working for John Portman– were having lunch at the 7oth floor revolving restaurant of the WestinPeachtree Plaza to enjoy overlooking the improvements underway. But while looking over the abandoned warehouses between the Peachtree Center hotel district and the Georgia World Congress Center, it was realized– that the area needed to be replaced with a central meeting area… a great park and plaza.
Thus, Centennial Park was born.
Many other cultural urban design projects were completed including:
The Look of the Games was complete and the Cauldron was ready for its lighting.
The Torch was carried from Olympia, Greece, traveled through across The States, then many towns all over Georgia, finally arriving in Atlanta.
Atlanta was ready for the Olympics.
The spectacular Opening Ceremony of the XXVI Olympiad
Famed composer John Williams created the official overture for the 1996 Olympics, “Summon the Heroes”, featuring the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. The Parade of Nations featured more than 10,000 athletes from 197 nations.
Celine Dion belted out “The Power of the Dream”, accompanied on the piano by David Foster, the composer of the song– with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and the Morehouse/ Spellman/ ASO Centennial Choir.
Seven-time Grammy Award winner and Atlantan Gladys Knight’s performance of Georgia’s Ray Charles’ “Georgia on my Mind” was a show-stopper.
But the most surprising and emotional event was greatest heavyweight boxer of the 20th century, Mohammed Ali, lighting the flame of the Olympic Cauldron, while his body shook with Parkinsons’ Disease.
Meanwhile, at Centennial Olympic Park, crowds were gathering to get a taste of the Olympic Days to come. Swatch had built a modernist pavilion, and AT&T had constructed an elaborate stage for live performances, day and night.
From July 19 to August 4, 1996, a record 197 nations took part in the Games, comprising 10,318 athletes.
Atlanta became the 5th American city to host the Olympic Games; only the 3rd to hold a Summer Olympic Games.
It will remain the last time the United States has hosted the Summer Olympics until at least 2024.
24 countries made their Olympic debut, including 11 ex-Soviet countries that competed as part of the Unified Team in 1992. Russia competed independently for the first time since 1912.
271 total events in 26 sports. 5 events were new for the Atlanta Games: Softball, beach volleyball, mountain biking, women’s soccer/football and lightweight rowing.
Provided a world stage for a far more diverse collection of athletes than any in history.
Men’s gymnastics at the Georgia Dome
Some of the Outstanding Athletic Results
The USA took home the most medals. 44 Gold, 32 Silver, 25 Bronze, for a total of 101 medals. Followed by: Russia, Germany, China, France, Italy, Australia, Cuba, Ukraine, and South Korea in 10th place by number of medals won.
Kerri Strug vaulted with an injured ankle, landing on one foot, winning the United States women’s gymnastics team its first gold medal. Shannon Miller won the gold medal on the balance beam, the first time an American gymnast had won an individual gold medal.
Amy Van Dyken won four gold medals in the Olympic swimming pool, the first American woman to win four titles in a single Olympiad.
Carl Lewis won his 4th long jump gold medal at the age of 35.
Andre Agassi won a gold medal in tennis, which would eventually make him the first man and second singles player overall (after his wife, Steffi Graf) to win the career Golden Slam, which consists of an Olympic gold medal and victories in the singles tournaments held at professional tennis’ four major events (Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, and US Open).
The US men’s and women’s swimming teams were among the top in numbers of medals won: Amy Van Dyken won 4 gold medals. Gary Hall, Jr. won 2 gold and 2 silver. Angel Martino won 2 gold and 2 bronze. Jenny Thompson won 3 gold medals. Josh Davis won 3 gold medals. Amanda Beard won 1 gold, 2 silver. And Whitney Hedgepeth won 1 gold and 2 silver.
In Diving, Mark Lenzi and Mary Ellen Clark won a bronze medal each.
The US Synchronized swimming team won the gold medal.
The US Baseball team won a bronze medal.
Both Men’s and Women’s American Basketball teams won gold medals
US Women’s Football team won the gold.
US Women’s Softball team won the gold.
A record 79 nations won medals (13 more than in Barcelona), with a record 53 taking at least one gold.
World Records Set:
Donovan Bailey of Canada won the Track & Field men’s 100 m, setting a new world record of 9.84 seconds at that time.
Michael Johnson won gold in both the 200 m and 400 m, setting a new world record of 19.32 seconds in the 200 m.
In Cycling, Andres Collinelli (Italy) set a new world record in the Men’s individual pursuit.
Deon Hemmings became the first woman to win an Olympic gold medal for Jamaica and the West Indies.
Lee Lai Shan won a gold medal in sailing, the only Olympic medal that Hong Kong ever won as a British colony (1852–1997).
The US women’s soccer team won the gold medal in the first ever women’s soccer event.
For the first time, Olympic medals were won by athletes from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Burundi, Ecuador, Georgia, Hong Kong, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Mozambique, Slovakia, Tonga, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan.
Atlanta was the first Olympics ever that not a single nation swept all three medals in a single event.
Josia Thugwane, marathon runner, was the first black South African in Olympic history to win a gold medal.
Boxer Paea Wolfgramm won a silver medal for Tonga, the first medal for the country– ever.
Burundi managed to send its first delegation to the Games despite the terrible conflict between the Hutus and Tutsis raging back home
Nigeria beat Argentina, becoming the first African nation to win any international soccer competition.
I had, just a half hour ago, enjoyably walked through Olympic Park as, sadly, along with the great events, came a terrifying and sad one.
Eight days after the Opening of the Games, the Olympic Park bombing killed spectator Alice Hawthorne, wounded 111 others, and caused the death of Melih Uzunyol by heart attack. Atlanta, the nation, and the world, mourned.
After the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra opened the show, Boyz II Men sang an R&B version of “The Star Spangled Banner”. Then the Morehouse College Glee Club performed “Faster, Higher, Stronger”.
Then, Gloria Estefan, and the Morehouse Glee Club livened the crowd up with a great performance of the song “Reach”, one of the official songs of the Atlanta Olympic Games.
Before Samaranch declared the games as officially closed, 25 Grammy Award winner and iconic performance artist Stevie Wonder memorialized the victims of the Cenntennial Olympic Park bombing by singing John Lennon’s “Imagine”, which brought the “house” down.
Another highlight was 10-year-old Rachel McMullin singing Celine Dion’s “The Power of a Dream”, while 600 Atlanta children ranging from ages six though twelve joined in.
After Georgia native and country singer Trisha Yearwood sang “the Flame”, a capella, the Olympic flame was slowly extinguished.
But, Atlanta’s greatest party couldn’t end without more partying!
After a flamboyant New Orleans-style funeral with jazz music,
all of the athletes danced while Gloria Estefan, Sheila E., Faith Hill, B.B. King, Wynton Marsalis, Georgia’s Little Richard, the Pointer Sisters, Tito Puente, Buckwheat Zydeco, Trisha Yearwood and Stevie Wonder all sang a tribute to American Pop Music.
Juan Antonio Samaranch, the IOC president said farewell,
“Today, the dream has come true for Atlanta, which will be forever an Olympic city. It has come true for an absolute record number of athletes and spectators, who have enjoyed the fabulous competitions.”
The Atlanta Games were over and the years-long hangover made everything seem quite boring after our Olympics.
Some of the media gave Atlanta less-than-fabulous reviews. Some complained about transportation, but thousands of us had no problems whatsoever. In fact, the highways and streets were free-flowing as so many people took off work to stay home, or went out-of-town.
Perhaps we used too many temporary structures, but we didn’t have the government money to waste, that Barcelona, Beijing, London, and Sochi did.
That was OK. We had already proved ourselves.
Atlanta had hosted the CentennialGames of the XXVI Olympiad.
It was spectacular. Thousands of people loved their experiences. I know I did.
And the whole world got to know some things about Atlanta. It would never be unknown again.
After the Games: Olympic Venues
As planned, the Olympic Stadium was transformed into Turner Field for the Braves and was given as a gift to the City of Atlanta by Ted Turner. Within two years from now, construction will begin transforming Olympic Stadium/Turner Field into a college football stadium for Georgia State University with a huge redevelopment of the entire area surrounding.
The Velodrome at Stone Mountain was dismantled and sold to another city.
The Georgia Dome has been used effectively for twenty years, but it will be razed in 2018. We are now building that iconic stadium, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, which will be used by the Falcons and Atlanta United FC, and for many other local, national, and global events. The new Stadium probably would not have been built without the overwhelming success of the Atlanta Olympics. Most importantly, today, sponsors have the money to strengthen the previously crime-ridden low-income neighborhoods of Vine City and English Avenue, adjacent to the new stadium.
Centennial Olympic Park has turned out to be Atlanta’s jewel and city center, used by locals and tourists alike, with year-round events.
It was expanded just after the Olympics, as planned. And will be expanded again and updated starting next year. It has become a landmark and is now home to the Georgia Aquarium, one of the world’s largest and most successful. Also, the park is home to Atlanta Sky Ferris Wheel, the interactive World of Coca-Cola and College Football Hall of Fame museums, and the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, which is not only a beautiful, thought-provoking museum, but works to educate and create greater human rights globally.
The Swimming and Diving Pavilion at Georgia Tech was enclosed and expanded to become one of the premier collegiate swimming natatoriums and recreational centers in the country, and just hosted the Atlanta Classic Swim Meet with over 20 Olympic swimmers from colleges all over the US, preparing for the Rio Olympics this summer.
The Olympic Village residential towers were converted to college dorms serving Georgia State and Georgia Tech students well. The development has been fitted with a striking modernist addition for campus dining.
After the Games: the City’s Built Environment
Developers and investors in the US and from all over the world took note of Atlanta’s phenomenal potential, as viewed during the Games. Hong Kong investors have a sweet spot, specifically for Downtown Atlanta. Germany, China and Japan are well-invested in Atlanta.
Many Americans, from all over the country have moved to Atlanta in the years after the Games. Thanks, Olympus!
Atlanta experienced another major building boom in the years from 2000-2009, despite the World Trade Center disaster.
Aerial Views of Atlanta from 1985-2016
1990, City of Atlanta’s population less than 400,000– with the metro area just below 3 million
2016, City of Atlanta’s population less than 500,000– with the metro area just below 6 million
The 2008 real estate bust hit Atlanta very hard, but Atlanta has diversified more than ever.
Starting in 2014, Atlanta is “major boom city” yet again…
You can read my other blog posts for the latest Atlanta building boom, and, it is exciting!
You’ve heard and read about them– the Atlanta BeltLine, the Atlanta Streetcar, Ponce City Market and Food Hall, Krog Street Market, Shops at Buckhead Atlanta, the Porsche Experience Center at Atlanta Aerotropolis, bursting film studios, Atlanta tech, Historic Building reuse…
Call it West Midtown, the Marietta Street Artery, or the Westside Design District— this hip, eclectic and fast-growing area of Atlanta has a lot to offer.
From industrial lofts to sleek minimalist condominiums, contemporary art museums to groovy arts centers, trendy shops to high design showrooms, and barbecue to Bacchanalia, the area up Marietta St. from Downtown or west on 10th and 14th Streets from Midtown has got it all.
“On July 4, 2018, the 50th anniversary of Colony Square’s groundbreaking, we will celebrate the grand opening of the reimagined Colony Square. We will engage with the city, with the street and with pedestrians, and it will fundamentally change the experience of living and working in Midtown Atlanta.”
New York-based architects Beyer Blinder Belle with Atlanta’s Lord Aeck Sargent are the architects.
Having enjoyed living here in the mid 80’s-early 90’s, I am thrilled to present to you… the preliminary design fly-through of the Reimagined Colony Square:
Colony Square History:
Between 1969 and 1975, Colony Square became the first mixed-use development in the southeast– providing condos, a Fairmont Hotel, retail mall, and two office towers. It was designed by Jova/Daniels/Busbee in the modernist style. The design of the condominiums has a direct relationship to designs by architectural giant LeCorbusier– especially Unité d’habitation in Marseille, France.
The new building is expected to be over 900 feet– because many of the ceiling heights will be unusually tall.
If, it reaches 984 feet tall, it becomes classified as a Supertall, the latest rage in skyscrapers globally, especially in New York which is in a Supertall frenzy.
Atlanta only has one supertall at the present, the Bank of America Plaza at 1,023 ft. The Bank of America Plaza is the tallest building in the southern United States, and the tallest in any state capital in the United States. Actually, it is the tallest building outside New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles. Only those few cities have supertalls, in the US, though many are being built overseas.
It will also be the first 70 story tower in Atlanta since John Portman’s 1976 Westin Peachtree Plaza Hotel, which was, for many years, the tallest hotel in the world.
The building will be in Midtown Atlanta, on 14th St, behindSymphony Tower,and across the street from the Four Seasons Hotel. It is part of a trio of towers announced a few years ago, but now it is being designed by Perkins & Will, noted Atlanta architects. Part of the tower will be a very high end hotel, rumored to be a Park Hyatt or even a Waldorf-Astoria. Much of the tower is highly likely to be luxury condominiums. According to sources, the retail component has been expanded to 90,000 sf to include a movie theater, live music venue and upscale bowling alley.
While we are on the Supertall subject– rumor has it, that an announcement for the tallest building in Buckhead is coming soon .
(Sorry, there is no more information available. Such a tease!)
Across the street, a dual-branded AC Marriott/Moxy Hotel is under construction next to the Four Seasons Hotel.
Back at 14th Street and Peachtree, Dewberry has plans to add a 6 story addition to the 21 story Campanile tower and massive retail at its base.
The retail addition actually makes so much sense considering 10,000 luxury apartments are being built along with NCR global headquarters and many other technology-based businesses exploding now at Georgia Tech’s Technology Square, a few blocks south.
Already, midtown landmark Colony Square has announced plans to expand and renovate, removing it’s roof to become an open air urban shopping experience.
Just a few hundred feet away two luxury high-rise apartment towers are under construction down 14th Street with a Whole Foods urban grocer.
In related news, a new hotel has just been announced to be built next to, and just south of, the fabulous Fox Theatre.
It will be 18 stories with 238 rooms and street level retail with a 2nd floor bar overlooking Peachtree Street. Noble is the developer, though no word has been released about the hotel’s branding. The review committee has recommended design revisions to make it relate better to its historic context.
Also, there is a proposed plan for a boutique hotel on Historic Baltimore Row, at the previous Rosser Intl Architects & Engineers Building.
Recently, the design for the adaptive reuse of Excelsior Mill (previously Masquerade) on North Avenue, next to Ponce City Market was released, and looks hip and spot on!
Finally, for this blog entry, the latest and greatest MARTA Plans have been released.
This is what every Atlantan has been waiting for.
Infill stations on the existing MARTA heavy rail line that will add convenience, riders, and transit-oriented districts. Rehabilitation of MARTA stations that need more space, conveniences, or aesthetic improvements.
MARTA will integrate the Atlanta BeltLine and the Atlanta Streetcar to create a cohesive transit system in and around the City of Atlanta. Options for light rail include, portions or all of the BeltLine loop, Crosstown Midtown Line along North Ave, the Crosstown Inner loop which extends the existing streetcar east and west to the BeltLine. Cliffton Corridor would only be built if DeKalb County comes to the table. There are two ideas for Bus Rapid Transit: One runs north-south along Northside Dr., the other is the I-20 East BRT. Also, extending the heavy rail west to the Perimeter.
See the maps below, the top map shows rail and bus rapid transit, lower map shows improved bus services. There will certainly be much more information to come, but this will be the game changer for our incredible city!
Should Downtown, Midtown, & Buckhead Do This? After all, We are Mercedes-Benz city!
From LAist: by Matt Tinoco
Coming soon to Beverly Hills, Mercedes Benz’s self-driving car.
Though not widely known for its wholehearted embrace of progress, the fine city of Beverly Hills has decided to be one of the first (the first?) cities to officially endorse pursuing a public transportation model based on autonomous vehicles.
On April 5, the Beverly Hills City Council approved council motion D-7, which has the subject line “resolution of the council of the City of Beverly Hills declaring the city’s support for the development of an Autonomous Vehicle Program.”
The motion’s proposal speaks for itself: “As initially envisioned, the program would include a fleet of City-owned AVs that would transport members of the public via these AVs in an attempt to reduce traffic and improve parking.”
This is big. For those of us who make a study of transportation, the prospect of self-driving cars raises several tantalizing questions. One of these is whether or not computer-controlled vehicles could totally upend what’s usually termed broadly the “car-ownership model.”
Imagine a future where you get around not by driving yourself in a car that you own, but by paging an autonomous vehicle through an app on your smartphone—not unlike how we call Uber or Lyft drivers—and then being whisked away to your destination.
Beverly Hills is, near as I can tell, the first city to really grapple with this concept in policy. Officially the city’s proposal views AV-Public-Transit as a first-mile, last-mile solution, helping people bridge the gap between where mass transit takes them and where they actually need to go.
Finally acknowledging that the Purple Line Subway will one-day run beneath the city, Beverly Hills’ AV proposal is intended to develop a system that will enable its residents and workers to use the subway, even if they don’t live or work right next to it. Though the Purple Line subway will eventually pass beneath the fair city, little to no additional parking is going to be built to supplement it.
People still have to get to the subway, however, and instead of proposing silly options like bike lanes or bus shuttles, Beverly Hills has decided to charge ahead into a future where the machines fix all of our problems for us.
Obviously there’s an immense amount that has to be done for this to happen. Beverly Hills’ motion explains that it will take years before an AV-transit system is developed and usable.
But at the same time, the motion calls on the city to pursue “education on the current state of the regulatory environment for AVs, exploration of grant opportunities for the program, outreach to AV manufacturers for a potential partnership, and the hosting of an AV-focused forum in Beverly Hills.”
Buckhead has been called the Beverly Hills of the East.
Well, its been heading in that direction for over 100 years. A gourmet dining and designer shopping mecca for many decades, its hotels include Mandarin Oriental, InterContinental, St. Regis, Ritz-Carlton, Grand Hyatt, JWMarriott, and W Hotels. An AC Hotel is under construction. But, the Four Seasons is in Midtown Atlanta.
Well, take a look at these new projects, which will go a long way to ensuring that title (although I must admit Miami may have it for now!)
Let’s take a ride up Peachtree.
But, before we leave Midtown, I want to show you the just released design for 17th & Peachtree mixed-use. At 45 stories, it will be one of the tallest in the southeast with a hotel, residences, offices, and street level retail. Looks like a beautiful project to me.
Recent Views of Shops Buckhead Atlanta
Atlanta History Center
The Atlanta History Center covers 33 acres and was founded in 1926. It encompasses 3 house museums, 6 permanent exhibitions ranging from architecture, the Civil War, to the 1996 Olympiad, temporary exhibitions, historic gardens, and the Kenan Research Center.
The center of Buckhead is already nearly covered with highrise office and residential buildings and two major upscale malls. Still, developers are squeezing in more skyscrapers, restaurants, and mid-rise residential wherever they can. The dramatic new centerpiece of the area will be Central Buckhead Park, to be built over the GA-400 highway. The area is working hard to make the transformation to being pedestrian-friendly.
Disco Kroger redevelopment
No one knows the current shopping center as Piedmont Peachtree Crossing– just Disco Kroger!
In 1980, Peter Gatien opened The Limelight club at the former Harlequin Dinner Theatre, next to a Kroger supermarket. The successful cavernous club featured live animals beneath the dance floor– tigers, sharks, I understand, but, by the time I danced there, it was a uplighted color-blocked dance floor a la Saturday Night Fever.
International, New York, and Hollywood celebrities showed up regularly, so Gatien went on to open Limelight in Manhattan, Chicago and London. Today, the party is just in our minds, but this Kroger retains the Disco Kroger name.
The mixed-use development by Equity One is quite the stunning design– as if the designer could feel the Euro-fabulousness of one night (or many) at Limelight.
Central Buckhead Park
This park is planned to cap the GA-400 highway which splits Buckhead down the middle currently and will go a long way into remaking the area into a walkable environment and a memorable place.
Zaha Hadid was likely the most successful woman architect of all time.
The Bagdad, Iraq-born British citizen died today from heart failure. Only 65, she had already won the Pritzker Prize, two Stirling Prizes, the RIBA Medal– and designed / built buildings all over the world.
Her work was not loved by everyone, but the striking buildings can never go unnoticed.
They are bold, futuristic, with dramatic sinuous or angular lines, and many of them were very beautiful– not to mention engineering masterworks.
Twenty of her Projects speak for themselves, below:
All over Downtown Atlanta, Good News is Happening.
Recently, a developer announced renovations of the historic M. C. Kiser shoe manufacturing building for market-rate apartments at Trinity and Pryor Streets, south of Five Points.
Just a few weeks before, Hilton announced they will turn the historic Candler (Coca-Cola) office Building into a Curio Collection Boutique Hotel.
The Hotel Indigo has already opened their swanky office-turned-hotel at Peachtree Center, with world-famous architect/artist/developer John Portman re-entering the upscale restaurant business after more than four decades.
Atlanta’s oldest skyscraper, the Flatiron Building is now a Microsoft Innovation Center and Tech Hub, complete with a Women’s Entrepreneur Initiative.
Underground Atlanta is planned to rise again with the help of high-rise skyscraper living;
while Post apartments are turning two city blocks of parking lots in upper Downtown into mid-rise living over street-level retail.
And, of course, just a few blocks to the West, Atlanta is building the new state-of-the-art-of-architecture Mercedes-Benz Stadium for the NFL Atlanta Falcons and the new Atlanta United FC. Next door will be a new Georgia World Congress Center convention hotel with up to 2000 rooms.
Amidst all of this construction activity is the often-maligned Atlanta Streetcar. Would all of this be happening without the Streetcar? The Georgia Statehouse is expected to pass legislation allowing Atlantans to vote on lightrail and Streetcar expansion for the Beltline and City of Atlanta areas.
The beauty yet to be uncovered is the gorgeous historic buildings that make up the old retail district south of Five Points, and the National Landmark Historic District, Atlanta Hotel Row.
The Goat Farm Arts Center started their Beacons program to offer space for artists to express themselves while living with reasonable rents, to give the south of Five Points neighborhood life again.
Look behind the crummy awnings and signage of the unique buildings that grace the streets of South Downtown Atlanta, below:
Those buildings will all be vibrant treasures, one day, if they can avoid the wrecking ball.
And look, below, is the National Landmark Historic District, Atlanta Hotel Row, just waiting for it’s savior who will make lots of change:
Now that the Transit Bill has (finally) passed the House…
WHAT DO WE HOPE FOR?
… if the Senate passes the bill and City of Atlanta residents vote to approve the MARTA tax?
I hope we can build the entire BeltLine Loop all the way around Atlanta.
I hope we can build the North Avenue Crosstown Streetcar.
I hope we can build the Atlanta Streetcar connectors east and west of the existing Streetcar Downtown– up Marietta Street to Coca-Cola and east to the Krog Street Market.
I hope we can add a MARTA station on the existing line north of the Arts Center Station at Pershing Point-Sherwood Forest and Armour-Ottley Station. Cabbagetown at the Krog Tunnel, and Adair Park to connect the heavy rail with the BeltLine light rail.
Wait, how much money do we have to spend?
I am so excited for the prospects of having a City of Atlanta ONLY transit expansion.
Buckhead said they don’t want it… fine, for now. The other counties are not included,
so this could be the greatest opportunity for intown transit since the 1970’s.
Come on, MARTA, get on the BeltLine! Everybody vote YES for BeltLine transit and the Atlanta Streetcar expansion!
(This article was previously posted, but has been updated as noted)
Ideally, Atlanta would be located on a large body of water.
It gets really HOT here. Anyone who has lived here has lusted for a local beachfront.
Well, flash forward to 2013. We are getting a new iconic Atlanta Falcons stadium and the neighborhood to the west has needed help for around a century. The Proctor Creek area is low, prone to flooding and is the headwater for a substantial amount of the pollution that goes into the Chattahoochee River.
The Proctor Creek would be an ideal place to create Lake Atlanta.
It would provide a reservoir for water which is highly needed. It could provide a new happy outlook for the always downtrodden westside and a great place for swimming, boating, fishing, and sunbathing- that intown Atlanta has always needed. Who wants to drive to Lake Lanier or Allatoona? The west side has historic and beautiful Westview Cemetery, the historic West End neighborhood including the famous Wren House, and the Atlanta University district with Morehouse, Spelman, and Clark-Atlanta Universities.
My proposal would combine the newly planned Bellwood Quarry Park with Maddox Park (seriously, do we need a park named after one of the most racist mayors of Atlanta?), Mozely Park and Washington Park– building a megapark with a lake from I-20 West on the south to J.E.Boone/Simpson/Ivan Allen, Jr. Blvd on the north end and would run alongside the Atlanta BeltLine westside trail and lightrail line.
The soon-to-open Atlanta Streetcar would be extended up Marietta Street and from along North Avenue from the new park to the Eastside BeltLine. Northside Drive, J. Boone/Simpson/Ivan Allen Blvd., J. Lowery Blvd., and Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive would be redesigned for improved traffic and quality streetscaping.
One of the postcard perfect parts of the redevelopment would be an iconic King Memorial Bridge over Lake Atlanta. Also, a nice design element could be the MARTA trains emerging from the middle of the lake as this is where the subway becomes an above ground heavy rail train.
Some homes would be replaced with good affordable housing, and the benefits for the neighborhood would be enormous with excellent connectivity to the rest of Atlanta and community needs accounted for.
To assist a Georgia State University urban design graduate student, I produced this urban design development of the Lake Atlanta ReservoirProposal.
Townhouses, condominiums, and apartment buildings surround, while the new Atlanta Civic Center would be built at the northern apex of the lake– easily accessible west from Midtown from Ivan Allen/Ralph McGill Blvd., along Joseph E Boone Blvd NW. The Atlanta BeltLine is shown in red along the east side of the community.
Just north of I-20 from historic West End, Lake Atlanta would be a landmark from the highway, offering great views of the newly iconic Martin Luther King, Jr. Free At Last Bridge.
Brick townhomes over retail/restaurants at street level with glassy offices above front Chicamauga Ave SW, a new lakefront street, and Westview Drive SW which parallels the highway.
Multiple public plazas and a 3 mile long beach encircling the lake are amenities to the community and the city.
Martin Luther King Jr. Drive crosses Lake Atlanta Reservoir over an iconic cable-stayed bridge. MARTA’s heavy rail will emerge from underground halfway across the 1.25 mile long lake. A manmade island constructed over the existing MARTA tunnel will provide a world-class swim resort destination for the neighborhood and tourists alike.
Grocery stores, neighborhood retail would be balanced with office buildings and residential around the new Atlanta Civic Center, which is just south of the planned new Westside Park at the old Bellwood Quarry.
From the Capitol, downtown, and three miles east to Sugar Creek in Edgewood– Atlanta’s Memorial Drive is undergoing a complete transformation.
Although this portion is mostly industrial now, Memorial runs between three Historic Districts, Cabbagetown H.D., Reynoldstown H.D., and Grant Park Historic District.
Last year, Liberty Plaza opened on the East façade of the State of Georgia Capitol. This year, the governor is pushing for the long-awaited new State Judicial Complex. Preliminary plans include a new roundabout between them at Capitol Ave and Memorial Drive.
Proposals and plans are being drawn for traffic and streetscape improvements with consultation from the Ga Tech research/design project, IMAGINE: Memorial Drive.
Going East, before historic landmark Oakland Cemetery, one now passes recent lofts, apartments and condos at Capitol Gateway, Mattress Factory Lofts and The Leonard, a new mixed-use apartment building. Coming soon will be Fairfield development’s Grant Park Apartments and MARTA’s King Station mixed-use TOD.
Across from Oakland Cemetery
is a selection of restaurants, boutiques and bars including The Jane and Oakland Park mixed-use apartment building.
Added to these will be the new development “Larkin On Memorial” which will include Grant Park Market and neighborhood needs like dry cleaners, nail salon, daycare, medical, hardware, various retailers and offices.
If you’ve ever wondered, as I have, where the NYC model Cynthia & husband Peter’s Bar One was located on The Real Housewives of Atlanta, it was right here on Memorial Drive. It is to become Grindhouse Killer Burgers.
The next six blocks are one of the hotspots of Atlanta development right now. It is the crossing of the Atlanta BeltLine’s Westside Trail at Memorial Drive.
While Krog Street Market has a food focus, Pace Properties’ Atlanta Dairies will be a mixed-use project with an entertainment focus, including an outdoor space at the heart of the project called “The Yard” for concerts and other events.
An indoor music venue, bowling alley, small retailers, a bar and a 24-hour diner would be part of the mix, too, with office space and 300 apartments.
Fuqua has purchased the Leggat & Pratt warehouse where a Sprouts Farmers Market and Cinebistro are in the works, along with a large-scale fitness center, restaurants, apartments, senior housing and condos according to WhatNOWAtlanta, and another at mixed-use apartment building at 742 Memorial. Across the Street, Cabbagetown Gateway project is proposed.
An important part of Atlanta’s history has come up for sale, which means, in Atlanta, imminent destruction.
Woodberry Hall /
Peachtree Circle Apts of Ansley Park
Very little remains of Atlanta from before the Civil War.
Indeed, this building is just over 100 years old. But it was designed in memory of the much-loved antebellum Leyden House and even used its actual columns.
The building’s importance goes beyond the Ansley Park site and the columns– the memory of the Leyden House have connections to Civil War generals from both sides, and magnate/philanthropist Asa Candler, business founder of the Coca-Cola company. Finally, they connect on multiple levels with Margaret Mitchell and book Gone with the Wind.
A block off of Peachtree Street in Ansley Park, proudly stand a colonnade of 30′ tall Ionic columns which were hand-carved from old-growth ash or cypress trees before the Civil War. They stood on Peachtree itself from 1858 through the war and until 1914. The fact that the 158 year old columns are still proudly erect today is highly rare in our city which is only 163 years young, but lacking in visual memory.
The Leyden House
Yet that is only part of their historical importance. Prior to Atlanta’s cityhood, in 1848, Austin Leyden, originally from Philadelphia, started the town’s first foundry and machine shop, which would later become the Atlanta Machine Works. Ten years later he would marry the daughter of William Herring who built this elaborate Greek Revival Home at 124 Peachtree Street and where his family would reside for generations. Having moved to down from Massachusetts, Atlanta’s first architect, John Boutell, planned an imposing design was unusual for the prewar railroad town. Most homes were more simple due to the fact that homeowners worked long hours, but the hard work was beginning to pay of as mansions began to march up Peachtree St. In fact, the Georgia Governor’s Mansion was next door to the left of the Leyden House. The home entertained many important early Atlantans including George Washington Collier, who built the first log cabin in the area that would become Atlanta.
Probably because the home had a glass room at the top of the roof, from which most of Atlanta could be seen, first, Confederate General Hood, then U.S. Generals George H. Thomas and Wm. Tecumseh Sherman would take the Leyden House over as their headquarters during the several month siege and occupation of the city. It is in this house that Sherman planned his infamous “March to the Sea”, and “to make Georgia Howl” (with enough suffering to end the War). The Leyden House was also used as a hospital for wounded soldiers and was spared most bombing and the fires that most buildings in Atlanta succumbed to.
Almost 50 years after the war, one of Atlanta’s great citizens, the business founder of Coca-Cola , Asa Candler, purchased the home with the intent to raze it for commercial use. By this time, large commercial buildings were taking over the residential areas (today’s Peachtree Center area). Mr. Candler saved the historic columns for use in the construction of the new Woodberry Hall School for Girls being built in Ansley Park in 1913.
In 1924, the Henry Grady Hotel and the Davisons/Macy’s would be built on the site. Today, The Westin Peachtree Plaza’s 70 stories perch on a portion of the site.
Atlanta’s Margaret Mitchell
Margaret Mitchell even mentioned the Leyden House in her book, Gone With the Wind:
“Finally the business section fell behind and the residences came into view. Scarlett picked them out as old friends, the Leyden house, dignified and stately; the Bonnells’, with little white columns and green blinds; the close-lipped red-brick Georgian home of the McLure family, behind its low box hedges.
–GWTW, Chapter 8
Margaret Mitchell chose to situate the grand Butler mansion near the Leyden House.
“Before we left Atlanta I was dickering for that big lot on Peachtree, the one near the Leyden house. You know the one I mean?”
–Rhett Butler, GWTW, Chapter 48
Born in 1900, Margaret Mitchell grew up in her family’s house at 1401 Peachtree Street, which was demolished in 1950. Interestingly, Mitchell attended the Woodberry School with the famous columns from the Leyden House. The book features two grand homes in the Greek Revival style, likely from her memories of Leyden House, Woodberry Hall, and old homes still extant, at that time, in the rolling hills surrounding Atlanta.
Woodberry Hall School for Girls
Rosa Louise Woodberry founded the Woodberry School for Girls in 1908, upon her move to Atlanta. Previously, she graduated from the Houghton Institute of Augusta and the Lucy Cobb Institute in Athens. She became a professor and Science department head at Lucy Cobb. She was a founding member of the Woman’s Press Club of Georgia in Athens and the Athens Woman’s Club. Her original Woodberry School was downtown at Peachtree & Pine St. She moved the school into the new 50 room building in Ansley Park in 1914. Later, she was the first woman to attend the University of Georgia, awarded a bachelor degree in 1927. She received her masters from Oglethorpe/Emory in 1928. In 1932, the school was closed two years after her death.
One of Woodberry Schools longest residents was Dorothy Alexander who had recovered from an acute bone infection during her childhood. After years of living in a cast, she studied dance in New York, London, and Atlanta going on to establish the Atlanta Ballet. She had a studio in Woodberry Hall, La Petite Ecole de Dance.
The Peachtree Circle Apartments
In 1934, part of the school was remodeled into apartments, eventually the whole building was converted into 39 units, although I understand there may be only 32 today. The brick masonry building was designed by architect A.W. Canton and is around 19-24,000 sf. The Lewis Crook-designed home next door is part of the sale, an esteemed Atlanta architect.
Frequently, visitors or new ATLiens want to see something from old Atlanta, of Gone with the Wind. The Peachtree Circle Apartments and their old columns are the best we have left from Atlanta history. The columns are magnificent, and Woodberry Hall is the best way to imagine residential Peachtree Street mansions before, during, and after the Civil War.
Please help save Woodberry Hall/Peachtree Circle Apts.
As an architect, I know the building and adjacent home could be saved while making a sound investment.
Hopefully, Ansley Park residents and other Atlantans are going to fight any ideas of demolition.
As scores of building cranes fly overhead, Atlanta, clearly, is exploding with construction.
At the same time, new project announcements just keep rolling in for big projects all over the city. We will look at just a few in Midtown, O4W, and Downtown.
Between Georgia Tech’s newly opened luxury dorm tower and their Centergy Two tower,
the Modera Midtown tower and the NCR national headquarters are rising in the picture below, near Technology Square.
On 14th Street, in the West Midtown neighborhood of Home Park, adjacent to the main Georgia Tech campus, new plans have been announced for a mixed-use complex with apartments and retail. This is the largest development in Home Park, since the Atlantic Station mega-development was built.
The Atlanta Beltline
announced they are moving forward with the Eastside Trail extension, Westside Trail construction and the South Trail plan to connect them together. What a great day that will be. Popularity of the BeltLine is still soaring, both with resident usage and developer investment.
Recently, plans were announced to build a Boutique Hotelon the BeltLine. According to Business Wire,
“Located at Auburn Ave. and Irwin St., the boutique hotel will feature a rooftop bar with expansive views of the city skyline, two distinct restaurants and, as a nod to Atlanta’s growing reputation as a film and television location, a screening room. Early specifications indicate the hotel also will feature an eating, drinking and shopping promenade facing the Beltline, an underground parking garage and approximately 3,500 square feet of event and meeting space.”
The 140-room hotel will be within walking distance to the Martin Luther Jr King Historic Site, Krog Street Market and the Inman Quarter and was designed to reflect the historic industrial atmosphere of the Old Fourth Ward neighborhood.
Meanwhile, Kroger announced they are planning to demolish their store on Ponce de Leon at the Beltline (fondly known as “Murder Kroger”) to build a $140 million mixed-use development with 360,000 sf of new industrial-styled offices over a new Kroger, now to be named 725 Ponce.
Incidentally, no one with any sense will miss that old moniker. Before that, we used to call it “Drag Kroger” or “Trans-Kroger”, because you were unlikely to have “just a plain ol’ woman” to check you out! Few remember that the Ansley Kroger used to be called “Crisco Kroger”, so people do, eventually, forget nicknames…
the new Hotel Indigo has opened at Peachtree Center. Inside, guests are treated to John Portman’s regeneration of the legendary Midnight Sun Scandinavian restaurant from the 1960’s.
Just announced, a new Canopy by Hilton Hotel on Marietta Street.