Home Furnishing Industry Loses Legendary John Portman, Jr.

Atlanta lost one of her greatest champions with the passing of John C. Portman, Jr. on Friday, December 29, 2017 at the age of 93. The leadership and vision of Mr. Portman were instrumental in moving Atlanta from a gracious Southern city into a vibrant world capital. As an architect, entrepreneur, artist and altruist, John Portman had a dramatic impact on Atlanta’s success and growth as a major international city, and he was instrumental in having similar impact on other cities throughout the world. John Portman was born in his mother’s home town of Walhalla, South Carolina on December 4th, 1924 to John and Edna Portman. He was their only son among six children. He began selling magazines on the street corner and then created his own “franchise plan” for selling gum in front of Atlanta’s movie theaters. As a youngster and before movie theaters had concession stands, he discovered he could invest in a case of gum and then sell the individual pieces at a profit. He recruited his school mates to stand in front of the theaters with the gum while he rode his bike back and forth between them, collecting money, making change and replenishing their supplies. The hill he rode his bike up and down on Peachtree Street between theaters is now crossed by John Portman Boulevard. While working as a movie usher at one of those theaters, he first met Jan, the beautiful young lady who would become his wife. In another job held during high school, he parked cars in a downtown parking deck, the Belle Isle Parking Garage. The owner, Mr. Henderson, started him out at 25¢ an hour. During World War II, the government converted the Belle Isle Parking Garage into an office building that housed government agencies. In the mid-1950’s, Portman was a young architect looking for design commissions when he heard that the government was vacating the office building. Using the creativity for which he became renowned, he developed a plan to convert the building into a wholesale furniture mart and he went to meet with Mr. Henderson, his old boss, who still owned the building, to convince him a furniture mart would a great use for the building. Of course, Portman also proposed that he should be hired as the architect to design the conversion of the building. Mr. Henderson balked, explaining that he did not know anything about running that sort of business. But, he suggested that if Portman really believed in the concept that he had just pitched, then he should create a company to run the furniture mart business, and Mr. Henderson would rent him...

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Legendary Architect-Developer Unveils Mixed-Use Project In Atlanta

Architect-developer John C. Portman, Jr. makes his latest mark on the energy and resurgent vitality of Atlanta’s central core with the opening of 230 Peachtree, a mixed-use redevelopment project that includes the new Hotel Indigo® Atlanta Downtown, 290,000 square-feet of office space and JP Atlanta, Portman’s new fine-dining restaurant created in the tradition of his legendary Midnight Sun—which provided downtown Atlanta with a global dining experience for decades. The building is a signature Portman property—originally offices, designed and built as part of Peachtree Center a half-century ago. 230 Peachtree brings to Peachtree Center and the central business district a distinctive property born of timeless design. It is the latest in the aesthetic continuum Portman created with the Hyatt Regency Atlanta, the Westin Peachtree Plaza and the Atlanta Marriott Marquis, all of which he designed and built over a 48-year span to answer and advance downtown Atlanta’s surging demand for hotel facilities serving the city’s explosive convention trade and the growing global customer base of AmericasMart Atlanta, the wholesale trade mart/trade show complex which he also designed, built and continues to own. With the opening of the building, the central business district gains 206 guest rooms and suites through InterContinental Hotels Group’s (IHG) newly opened Hotel Indigo Atlanta Downtown, as well as a world-class restaurant, all connected to AmericasMart’s 7.1 million-square foot campus by a stunning new skylight corridor and adjacent to the Peachtree Center MARTA Station. The building’s plaza is anchored by yet another Portman contribution to Atlanta’s public art. Belle is a modern, abstract sculpture by artist John Portman, inspired by the female form. Cast in chrome and mounted on a granite pedestal, Belle addresses Peachtree Street with natural grace and charm. “It is a unique experience to be able to revisit a building designed at the beginning of one’s career,” said architect and developer John C. Portman, Jr. “I feel quite fortunate to once again be able to contribute to the evolution of downtown Atlanta. This building with its revitalized plaza and one-of-a-kind connection to AmericasMart will serve so many people coming into the heart of our city.” Lijian Chen, CEO of COS Capital, the co-investor in the redevelopment, said “We are extremely proud to be a partner in this project with Portman. The beautifully designed new hotel and restaurant will clearly contribute to the revitalization of downtown Atlanta, and preliminary hotel bookings and interest in the office space and restaurant indicate that the financial performance of the property will be very strong.” The Hotel Indigo Atlanta Downtown lobby welcomes guests with a spiral glass staircase accented with sleek, steel railings. The legendary Portman style is incorporated into...

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