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Photos: the evolution of a massive HENSE mural at Midtown’s Icon tower

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Atlanta’s tallest recent sky-rise nears finish, with goal of being colorful gateway to city’s arts district.

Photo of Hense mural happening in Midtown Atlanta.
A rapidly changing 14th Street.
Specified images courtesy of ©2017 Steve Cole

Atlanta’s biggest, boldest, public-art statement in recent memory is a wrap. For the most part.

At Icon Midtown, Atlanta’s tallest new tower in a decade, the muralist HENSE has completed an untitled piece that measures 86 feet tall and 65 feet wide. For a 3-D effect, circular aluminum panels dot the work—spanning up to 24 feet themselves—and will be backlit to produce a glow.

HENSE, aka Alex Brewer, was a prolific Atlanta graffitist who transitioned to mural and gallery work and now claims commissions around the world.

Lording over West Peachtree and 14th streets, his first piece to incorporate lighting is an array of geometric abstracts that nods to his recent sculptural work.

“It’s exciting just to work on a commission of this scale—and a project that’s frankly changing the feel of the city here,” Brewer said on site last month. “It’s not something you do every day.”

The $118-million venture is Florida-based Related Development’s first foray into Georgia. Upscale Icon will offer 390 apartments ranging from studios up three-bedrooms flats (from 601 to 1,478 square feet). Rents, we’re told, are still being finalized.

“I’ve always seen this as the gateway to [Atlanta’s] arts district and Piedmont Park, so we tried to incorporate art,” said Ed Allen, Related’s senior vice president of development. “The building is sculptural itself.”

Allen expects the 39-story project to wrap in early 2018, with a highly anticipated Whole Foods (and pub) at Spring and 14th streets. Elsewhere, a 4,000-square-foot restaurant slot will be situated along West Peachtree. The site was formerly two surface parking lots.

Lighting elements are pending, but the final paint strokes were applied to the HENSE mural within the past week. Here’s how the two-month project came together:

The blank slate at West Peachtree and 14th streets in early September.
©2017 Steve Cole
The project on Sept. 25.
©2017 Steve Cole
©2017 Steve Cole

...

The tower and mural project as of Oct. 11.
Photos: Josh Green, Curbed Atlanta
The artist discussing progress with Ed Allen, Related’s senior vice president of development.
The loose blueprint.
As seen from the back of Icon’s property, parking-garage screening and Northside Hospital’s medical tower.

...

This image gives a sense of the project’s scale. At top right is a communal hot tub with an aquarium side overlooking 14th Street.
©2017 Steve Cole
Large aluminum panels lend a three-dimensional effect. Back-lighting behind the panels and downlighting from above will make the mural glow at night, developers say.
©2017 Steve Cole
The finished piece, pending lighting.
©2017 Steve Cole

...

The building’s artistic side isn’t relegated to the facade:

This wall of ceramic blossoms is by Austin artist J Prichard.
Photos: Josh Green, Curbed Atlanta
Interiors by Atlanta-based Hibachi Designs (seen under construction in October) include a ceiling installation by Ridgely Studio Works of Toronto.
Even the mailroom takes inspiration from Gucci.
Josh Green, Curbed Atlanta
Stylish concierge habitat.
A rendering depicting the finished lobby area.
Renderings courtesy of Related Group
The 420-foot structure topped out in May. Developers expect it to be finished in early 2018.