Atlanta’s skyline got a big bump in the 1960s and 1970s as the city gained prominence and business came to town.
During that time, three eminent office complexes were constructed in the popular architectural style of the time: brutalism. First came John Portman’s Peachtree Center, with the initial tower opening in 1965. Then, in Midtown, Colony Square (more specifically, in terms of brutalist influences, Colony House, Hanover House, and the bases of the tallest office towers) rose across from the Woodruff Arts Center, beginning in 1969. Finally, CNN Center opened in 1976 in downtown.
While the buildings were cutting-edge at the time, over the course of the intervening decades, the competition has far outpaced the facilities, and in the eyes of some detractors, the style has fallen out of favor — as evidenced by the epic battle surrounding the highest profile brutalist building in the city, the Central Library.
Now, the owners of all three complexes are embarking on overhauls. The idea is to make them competitive with the surrounding newer office buildings while capitalizing on the long legacies of some of Atlanta’s earliest modern office spaces.
Colony Square, the first project to be announced, has officially kicked off renovations, with plans to create an outdoor piazza to enliven Peachtree Street. Rumor has it new tenants could include Atlanta’s first freestanding Apple store, an Equinox gym, and even an Eataly. Meanwhile, less detailed plans have been released for an overhaul of Peachtree Center, as the sprawling downtown complex seeks to bring relevance and high rents back to the core of the city.
Not to be outdone, it seems CNN Center is jumping into the fray, though plans for a redo are in very early stages; the AJC devoted the front page of the front of Sunday’s business section to the renovation of all three facilities.
According to the article, CNN Center renovations will focus on the ground floor retail and food court space, as well as an overhaul of the offices which surround the atrium. Additionally, the space could play a role in the Hawks’ vision for a new entertainment district around Philips Arena.