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Famed I.M. Pei Building Vanishes (Temporarily) From Midtown

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The very first building by a legendary architect has been removed from the site of an under-construction Midtown apartment complex — for now. Work is under way on the aptly-named "131 Ponce, Midtown" project, a 280-unit development taking up most of a city block bordering Ponce de Leon, North Avenue, Piedmont Avenue and Juniper Street. When Sereo Group and Faison Enterprises bought the property back in August, the question was what they would do with the distinctive Gulf Oil Building — the initial offering from architect I.M. Pei, probably best known for designing that glass pyramid outside of the Louvre — perched on the corner of Ponce and Juniper. The answer was to tear the structure down, take it apart and put (some of) it back together. "On the Pei building, we had a crew out at the site for three-plus weeks removing the marble panels as required by the city," Kris Fetter, Faison's manager for the project, told Curbed Atlanta. "The panels are in storage and the facade will be reconstructed off site."

The Pei product was built in 1951; its facade will be returned to its original space in coming months to serve as the front of a clubhouse/leasing-type space for 285,000 square feet of residential. There will also be a pool on the roof, and parking is planned for directly under the reconstructed building.

Fetter said officials are "confident" the facade will look "exactly the way it was there before," adding that the process of reproducing the actual steel for the dramatic straight-line look of Pei's original project — and blending several four-story apartment buildings into that feel — is fairly in-depth, but designers believe they've done a pretty good job. "We think the Pei building's a centerpiece," he said. "We love the design, we love everything about it." Newly released renderings show an affinity for Pei's original, clean design (and lots of windows) throughout the residential parts of the development. All told, the project will cost about $50 million and developers believe it will be complete within 18 months from today. 131 Ponce, Midtown will have a series of stair towers and other amenities that connect to three courtyards at the center of the development. Of note: Original proposals called for about 8,600 square feet of retail space in addition to the apartments, but those plans have been nixed.

— By Curbed contributor Tyler Estep