John C. Portman Jr. left a lasting impact on commercial architecture around the world. He came to the fore in the 1960s when downtown neighbourhoods across the US were in decline with people relocating to the suburbs instead. His designs sought to attest this, attracting more people to move back to these areas. Although this didn’t happen in many cases he created many cities within cities, including buildings that were attractive to shoppers, businesses and visitors.
The area where he had the most impact was hotel developments. His atrium ideas started a global trend for making these areas large, spacious and full of eye-catching features. The aim was to make them more relaxing by getting rid of the hustle and bustle of the street and providing more freedom. His design ideas have now become the norm for these properties.
Hotels around the world feature these incredible atrium designs. Notable ones by John C. Portman Jr. himself include The Hyatt Regency in Atlanta, the Marriott Marquis in New York, and the JW Marriott in San Francisco. These properties all feature incredible atriums that rise numerous floors. Some of them include wonderful features such as lakes, waterfalls, and greenery.
One of the most incredible projects Portman was involved in was the Peachtree Centre in Atlanta. The sheer scale of the commercial architecture is astonishing; the district currently spans 14 blocks and includes 18.9 million square feet of mixed use space. There are ten office buildings, three huge hotels, a retail mall, and features such as sculptures and public plazas. Pedestrian bridges connect the different buildings.
In 1990 Portman designed the Shanghai Centre. This was his first project outside of the US and also the first contemporary skyscraper in the area. The building is iconic today. It features apartments, high end office space, a supermarket, a hotel, a theatre and three storeys of luxury department stores. This project led to more work in China, Malaysia, and India.
Commercial architecture today would not be the same without the vision and work of John C. Portman Jr. His buildings and reputation will be a lasting legacy that will continue to inspire architects all around the world.