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IC Returns to Atlanta!


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IC Returns to Atlanta!

That's right! After a long hiatus spurred by by school and some laziness, I finally decided to upload my Atlanta pics. It's been a while since I put one of these threads together, so let's see how it goes.

Anyways, I went to Atlanta last week to go ice skating at Centennial Olympic Park (had a great time, too!). Before doing that, the group I was with (a church group) decided to stop at the Varsity for dinner. I managed to excuse myself from them for a few moments to take a couple pictures as dusk was fading into night. Some of these turned out great, as there was still enough light to expose everything but not enough to overexpose it.

So, here it goes!

The Varsity and the Skyline


..........This time a little more zoomed in on The Varsity.


The Downtown Connector

..........This one has been resized because it did not expose properly (but it was still good enough to keep).


Zooming Down the Highway


The Midtown Skyline



One Atlantic Center


1180 Peachtree--One Symphony Center

...........And the wings were lit up, too!


Bank of America Plaza


The Downtown Skyline


The Westin Peachtree


191 Peachtree

............I'm guessing the large dark section here is the unoccupied part. Whatever it was, it doesn't do much to make the picture look good.


SunTrust Plaza



And there you have it! What do you guys think?

When I get my photos from Centennial Olympic Park uploaded, I'll post them here as well.

Keep a look out for my pics of the Georgia Capitol Building as well.

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Yes, I like the Varsity photo, too.

One thing that's striking is how significant the Peachtree Summit buildng is looking now that there is some development at Allen Plaza. It was scorned for decades but it actually provides an important element of the skyline in that part of town. Can you imagine how empty the vista would seem without it?

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I don't think anyone dislikes the bulk that the Peachtree Summit building adds to the skyline. It's just an ugly building. The combed concrete hasn't aged well, the street presence is absolutely terrible (I often get stopped by people trying to find the entrance because it's not easy to find), the glass is stained and of inconsistant coloring, and the exposed corners with the unused balconies smacks of being different just to be different. The building looks much better at night, especially from a moderate distance where these flaws are hidden by darkness and distance.

With Twelve across the street, it does add good balance on the street. It is unfortunate that in this country we prefer our government buildings to be as cheap and shabby as possible (anything that isn't as depressing as the typical drivers license office is labeled a Taj Mahal). I don't know if the feds actually own Peachtree Summit or are just the primary tenant, but the building could be spruced up and modified to make it much more pleasing and better fit in the community. Sadly any money spent for that can not come from government spending, less someone starts screaming about "waste". Perhaps someday we will come to once again value the public realm, but as it is, we like moving from private building to private building in private vehicles while cursing the time we spend in the public realm, usually in the form of sitting in congested traffic surrounded by concrete, Frito-Lay bags, cigarette butts, and broken bottles.

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Aubie, I haven't been up close to the Summit building in a long time and didn't realize it had deteriorated so much. I agree that it mainly adds mass to the skyline in that area, but it does make the new Allen Plaza buildings look more substantial and more integrated with the structures to their south. You also put your finger right on it with the observation that it looks like it's just trying to be being different.

Originally Peachtree Summit was a speculative office building which mainly housed legal and accounting firms. However, at that time it was considered too far north (even Peachtree Center was considered somewhat remote in those days*) and it never really caught on. The balconies were actually functional at one point -- I remember walking out on one of them -- but they may not be now. It was initially considered quite a boon to that section of town when the IRS took space there.


*Just a historical note. Tommy Carlock's comment sums it up pretty well:


Carlock, a partner at Carlock, Copeland, Semler & Stair LLP, the city's 17th-largest law firm, remembers when his firm moved into Peachtree Center in 1970.

"We were told we were too far from the courthouse and would go broke," he said. "Very few attorneys were farther north than the Equitable building at that time. So obviously things have a way of changing."

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I remember seeing somewhere that there was plans for two other matching buildings in the Peachtree Summit development. As far as the balconies go, they may still be structurally functional, but I've never seen them used and there is no furniture out on them.

The street level may have changed over the years. Much of the ground floor is below the level of West Peachtree. When the Civic Center MARTA station was added, they may have raised West Peachtree. If not, then the architect had real dislike for interaction with the street.

I would love for the building to be renovated. Clean and maybe resurface the concrete, enclose the corners to streamline the building, and replace the glass that does not match the rest.

My worry about many of the Novare buildings is that they are of the raw concrete style. Concrete just doesn't seem to age well and unless the pours go perfect and there are never any patches done, when it is wet, it looks terrible. At least Novare hasn't used the combed concrete that's so popular with MARTA stations and was used on the Peachtree Summit building. It traps dirt and pollution, making the surface look grimey even after it has been cleaned. I suspect that only high pressure water cleaning or perhaps even sandblasting will make it look clean again.

Law firms don't seem to worry about being near the courthouse anymore. The nature of their business has probably changed over the years, with contracts and legal consultation bringing in more revenue than actual trials. Plus so much more can be done electronically now than in the past when physical papers had to be carried down to the courthouse in person to be filed.

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Great renovation ideas, Aubie, and yes, I believe there were supposed to be two other towers. To tell you the truth, the street level interaction has always been pretty terrible. That's a problem with many buildings of the 1965-85 era, of course -- there seemed to more emphasis on how a building would look from a distance than on how it worked up close. Portman, for all the criticism he gets now, actually paid more attention to street level details than a lot of his contemporaries.

You're right that the desire of lawyers to be near the courthouse has dissipated, although it's fairly recent. When Alston & Bird moved to the IBM Building in the mid-80s, people were stunned that one of the city's silk stocking firms would move "way out there" to Midtown. I think the shock had less to do with practicality than with the traditional notion that it simply wasn't done. Five Points was ground zero for nearly all the most prestigious banking, legal and accounting firms. Even though the work had already begun to spread out significantly, it was just tradition to stay downtown.

It's really kind of unfortunate that that all began to fall apart, but in retrospect I think you could clearly see Atlanta starting to fracture as early as the 1960s. The fault lines ran deep even then, and in many ways they still exist.

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