Peachtree Center Historic District Listed in the National Register of Historic Places

Atlanta, GA
Tuesday, April 3, 2018 - 10:15


The Peachtree Center Historic District has been listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

The district is located in downtown Atlanta (Fulton County) and is roughly bounded by Andrew Young International Boulevard to the south, Peachtree Center Avenue and Courtland Street to the east, Baker Street to the north, and Williams Street to the west. Central Atlanta Progress sponsored the nomination, and Big RIG: Revitalization Infrastructure Group prepared the nomination materials.  

The Peachtree Center Historic District spans fourteen blocks, just north of the historic city center at Five Points. Constructed between 1961 and 1988 by architect-developer, John C. Portman, Jr., Peachtree Center includes seven office towers, three hotels, two Mart buildings, the Peachtree Center Mall retail building and subterranean food court, and one stand-alone parking garage. The district is urban, and all buildings are between 15 and 73 stories in height and are unified by consistent design, defined by distinctly heavy massing, vertical ribbing, vertical ribbon windows, and exposed aggregate precast concrete panel exteriors. These character-defining features, which comprise what is best described as a refined permutation of the Brutalist style of architecture, identify the buildings of the district as Peachtree Center and visually stand out against a backdrop of more classically inspired and contemporary buildings outside the district.

The Peachtree Center Historic District was listed in the National Register of Historic Places as significant in the areas of architecture, community planning and development, and social history. It was listed at the national, state, and local levels of significance in architecture and community planning and development for its association with the productive life and work of architect and developer John C. Portman, Jr. As one of the world’s most celebrated and successful architects, Portman explored innovative ideas and approaches throughout the design and construction of Peachtree Center, which included many of his earliest and most significant projects. Central to his success in testing these new ideas was his approach to development, which was first implemented at Peachtree Center. He expanded the role of an architect to include functions of a developer, which led to Portman’s recognition as the first architect-developer. Portman’s combination of these two roles allowed Peachtree Center to be his “proving ground” for architectural and urban planning innovation, which largely resulted in pedestrian-oriented design with the idea of the “coordinated unit” of interconnected pedestrian-oriented city blocks. This pedestrian orientation is seen through the use of sky bridges to connect each of the individual buildings and through Portman’s exploration of the atrium form evidenced in the three distinct atrium hotel forms present in the district.

The district is also significant at the local level of significance in the area of social history for its strong association with the modern American civil rights movement in Atlanta. Peachtree Center is noted as the location of the first documented private dining establishments in the city to open as fully integrated; the Regency Hyatt House (now the Hyatt Regency Atlanta) rented its new and modern convention and meeting space to all people, regardless of race - notably welcoming the meetings of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference when another downtown hotel rejected them; and the district served as location of regular meetings of the Atlanta Action Forum, a local group of influential business and political leaders dedicated to racial harmony and the continued peaceful development of Atlanta. Peachtree Center represents the conscious and deliberate shift by the Atlanta business community in their approach to integration and civil rights during the mid-20th century. Additionally, the architecture of Peachtree Center represents a movement to build a new Atlanta that was integrated and socially progressive.

The National Register of Historic Places is our country's official list of historic buildings, structures, sites, objects, and districts worthy of preservation. The National Register provides formal recognition of a property's architectural, historical, or archaeological significance. It also identifies historic properties for planning purposes, and insures that these properties will be considered in the planning of state or federally assisted projects. National Register listing encourages preservation of historic properties through public awareness, federal and state tax incentives, and grants. Listing in the National Register does not place obligations or restrictions on the use, treatment, transfer, or disposition of private property. 

The Historic Preservation Division (HPD) of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources serves as Georgia’s state historic preservation office. Its mission is to promote the preservation and use of historic places for a better Georgia.  HPD’s programs include archaeology protection and education, environmental review, grants, historic resource surveys, tax incentives, the National Register of Historic Places, community planning and technical assistance. 

The mission of the Department of Natural Resources is to sustain, enhance, protect and conserve Georgia’s natural, historic and cultural resources for present and future generations, while recognizing the importance of promoting the development of commerce and industry that utilize sound environmental practices.

#             #             #

For more information contact National Register and Survey Program Manager Stephanie Cherry-Farmer at 770-389-7843 and stephanie.cherry-farmer@dnr.ga.gov.

For press inquiries contact Historic Preservation Division Outreach Program Manager Allison Asbrock at 770-389-7868 and allison.asbrock@dnr.ga.gov


 

The above is a news release from the Historic Preservation Division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

Releases can be found online at www.georgiashpo.org.