6/51 John Portman.

Atlanta architect and developer John Portman transformed the downtown Atlanta skyline and contributed to the revitalization of the inner city beginning with construction of the Merchandise Mart in 1961.

When the Hyatt Regency Atlanta opened in May 1967, Portman’s $18 million, 800-room hotel was hailed by architectural critics. Within three months of opening, the hotel booked a spectacularly successful ninety–percent occupancy rate. The open-atrium design influenced hotel architecture worldwide and the Hyatt Corporation adopted the design feature as a company standard with twenty-six open-atrium hotels by 1987.

The Peachtree Center district of downtown Atlanta is dominated by John Portman buildings. These include the Westin Peachtree Plaza hotel, the tallest hotel in the nation when it opened in 1976; Peachtree Center office towers (1969-1979); Atlanta Market Center [Atlanta Merchandise Mart / AmericasMart] (1961, addition 1968); Atlanta Apparel Mart (1979, addition 1989); Inforum (1989); Atlanta Gift Mart (1992); Atlanta Marriott Marquis hotel (1985); and One Peachtree Center / Sun Trust Plaza (1992).

Cover Image:
Lobby of the Regency Hyatt House, designed by John Portman, ca. 1967.

View of Atlanta's downtown skyline, dominated by John Portman's buildings, ca. 2016.

Lobby Image:
Kenan Research Center at Atlanta History Center

John Portman Portrait:
Kenan Research Center at Atlanta History Center, Joe McTyre Photograph Collection

View of skyline:
Courtesy of Amy Wilson

Portman’s buildings radically changed the skyline, modernizing it and defining Atlanta’s look for its late-20th-century ‘world class’ era.

Geoff Hetherington, Community submission to Atlanta in 50 Objects

Next: 7 Fox Theater.

The “Fabulous Fox,” Atlanta’s only remaining movie palace, opened on Christmas Day, 1929.