John Portman, Jr. #1 – Marriott Marquis, Atlanta

November 28, 2012 at 3:24 am (Atlanta) (, , , , , )

Looking up from the lobby area (back of big television in foreground)

When my son and his fiance’ visited me several weeks ago, he wanted to see some of the hotels designed by John C. Portman, Jr.  So when Hurricane Sandy was wreaking havoc in the Northeast and her back winds were blowing hard and cold in Atlanta, we walked downtown. We saw four of the buildings he designed, and the others will be featured in subsequent posts.

Looking down at the external elevator shaft, Mariott Marquis

These were part of the 14-block Peachtree Center designed in the 1960s to help revitalize Atlanta’s downtown which was being whittled away by the flight to the suburbs.

Spiral staircase

The Marriott Marquis was built two decades after his first, Atlanta’s Hyatt Regency.  This 1985 design flows like water around rocks and down a waterfall – a much different impression than the blocky but better-lit Hyatt atrium.

Looking down to the television in the lobby

Evidently Portman, who grew up in Atlanta, pioneered the idea of a large interior atrium in hotels.  Instead of it being wasted square footage, the atrium became a sculptural work of art.  The 52-story Marriott Marquis’ skylight is too high to give more than a dim aid to the artificial lights on the lower floors.  But the curves and colors of the balconies and walls provide a visual banquet for those who appreciate architectural beauty.

All those lines are balconies outside each floor of the hotel

Writing in Architect magazine, Lindsey Roberts says, “Soaring atriums, lit columns, glass elevators, water fountains—such features have become synonymous with hotels and convention centers. But they are only ubiquitous since architect-developer John Portman, FAIA, almost single-handedly changed the hospitality typology from blah boxes into spectacular spaces.”

A chandelier

If it weren’t for my son’s interest, sparked by a film he had seen on the architect, I would have had no idea of the beauty hidden within these hotels.

Looking up from the conference area below the lobby

A listing of buildings John Portman designed

About Portman’s design

Television in the lobby

Higher resolution images on my gallery site

My website:


  1. DesertAbba said,

    Stunning photos of a breathtaking building! Thanks!

  2. Bob Zeller said,

    Wow!! These are awesome photographs, Cindy. Holy Cow!! You are some architectural photographer! 🙂

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