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Past Exhibitions

John Portman: Art & Architecture

April 14–June 12, 2011

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Atlanta Marriott Marquis Hotel by John Portman

Atlanta Marriott Marquis Hotel, 1985
Atlanta, Georgia
View of the atrium
Photo by Jaime Ardiles-Arce

This exhibition features architectural projects, furniture, paintings and sculpture by Atlanta-based architect and artist John Portman. The fifteen architectural projects included span five decades of national and international developments, including the Hyatt Regency Atlanta (1967), which is globally renowned as the first modern atrium hotel. The exhibition also features furniture, paintings and sculpture by Mr. Portman—most of which have never before been publicly exhibited.

Art and Architecture highlights nine John Portman & Associates projects from Asia: Marina Square, Singapore, 1987; Tomorrow Square, Shanghai, China, 2003; Beijing Yintai Centre, Beijing, China, 2008; and current projects including Jin Hongqiao International Center, Shanghai, China; Zhe Jiang Fortune Finance Center, Hangzhou, China; Wenzhou Zhixin Plaza, Wenzhou, China; Songdo Landmark City Master Plan, Incheon, Korea and Incheon 151 Tower at Songdo Landmark City, Incheon, Korea; and Portman House, Jian Ye Li, Shanghai, China.

U.S.-based projects include Entelechy I, Portman’s Atlanta home, 1964; Atlanta Hyatt Regency, 1967; Peachtree Center, Atlanta, 1976; The Westin Peachtree Plaza, Atlanta, 1976; Atlanta Marriott Marquis, Atlanta, 1985; SunTrust Plaza, Atlanta, 1993; Entelechy II, Portman’s Sea Island, Georgia, home, 1986; Embarcadero Center and Hyatt Regency, San Francisco, California, 1971–1988; Renaissance Center, Detroit, Michigan, 1976; and The Westin Bonaventure Hotel, Los Angeles, California, 1977.

John Portman
John Portman, a native of Atlanta, received a Bachelor of Science in Architecture from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 1950, and after a three-year apprenticeship opened his own firm in 1953. In 1956, he teamed up with H. Griffith Edwards to form Edwards & Portman Architects. When Edwards retired in 1968, the firm became John Portman & Associates.

In Atlanta, Portman is best known for the 14-block Peachtree Center complex that attests to his commitment to the downtown business district and includes many of his landmark projects. Peachtree Center began in 1960 with the opening of the Atlanta Merchandise Mart, now known as AmericasMart, the world’s largest wholesale marketplace. His three major downtown hotels, the Hyatt Regency Atlanta, The Westin Peachtree Plaza and the Atlanta Marriott Marquis, anchor the convention district. With the opening of the Hyatt Regency Atlanta in 1967, with its 22-story atrium, Portman made architectural history and won international acclaim.

Portman’s international work began with the design and development of the Brussels Trade Mart in 1975, then shifted to the Far East. The Regent Singapore was Portman’s first international hotel, followed by Marina Square, a major complex that includes three hotels, a major retail mall and an office building. Portman began working in China in 1980. His pioneer project there, Shanghai Centre, a large, mixed-use complex, has been described as “one of the five architectural stars in mainland China.” Today, much of the firm’s work continues to be in Asia with ongoing projects throughout China, Korea and India.

Portman began creating paintings and sculptures in the early 1980s after years of integrating art into the architectural environment, including furniture and lighting of his own design. His architectural awards include the 1976 Elsie de Wolf award from the American Society of Interior Designers, New York Chapter, the 1978 AIA Medal from the American Institute of Architects, the 1981 Silver Medal Award from the Atlanta Chapter of AIA and the 1984 Urban Land Institute’s Award of Excellence for Embarcadero Center. In 1986 the Georgia Institute of Technology presented him with the Exceptional Achievement Award. In 1992 the Atlanta College of Art awarded Portman an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts. In 1994 he was elected National Academician at the National Academy Museum and School of Fine Arts, New York. Portman is a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects, has served as a board member of the Atlanta College of Art and is Trustee Emeritus of the Atlanta Arts Alliance.