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A tall skyscraper rendering. There is a park with trees and grass in front of the skyscraper.
Georgia Aquarium’s high-rise neighbor that never was.
Tuscany Corporation, via Inhabit

Remembering Atlanta’s top 11 skyscrapers that never happened

Sometimes really big ambitions don’t pan out, in boom times and not

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Georgia Aquarium’s high-rise neighbor that never was.
| Tuscany Corporation, via Inhabit

From TBS to the Centennial Olympic Games and the Beltline’s city-altering loop, Atlanta has a reputation for going big—and sometimes falling on its face.

Construction cranes once again stud the skyline from downtown to Sandy Springs and far beyond, but that’s no reason to lose sight of what could have been. If realized, these projects below (like still-ticking No2 Opus Place and other big ideas today) would have put a little more NYC in ATL, visually speaking.

Presented in no particular order, mapped below are 11 of the most noteworthy high-rise proposals that could have reshaped the Atlanta skyline we know today.

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Aquarius

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The spiel began like this: “Situated at the intersection of Luckie Street and Ivan Allen Jr. Boulevard...Aquarius Tower offers unique, unobstructed, breathtaking views of Centennial Olympic Park.” Yeah, not so much. Eye-catching design, wind-powered capabilities, with a car-parking robot. But ultimately a no-go, circa 2007.

A tall skyscraper.
Once envisioned as the “greenest tower on Atlanta’s skyline.”
Design by Tuscany Corporation, via Inhabit

Mandarin Oriental tower

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This concept was once described as the “Crown Jewel of the Midtown Mile”—and lambasted as a giant glassy spatula. Proposed in 2008 as an anchor of the still-developing Midtown Mile, the Mandarin Oriental condominium-hotel hybrid would have cost around $300 million and towered over Peachtree Street with 53 stories. (Another version later surfaced.)

The property was in foreclosure by early 2010 and remains a parking lot, although plans have emerged recently for a possible 530-foot YOO tower on site, with some of the same developers involved.

A tall green skyscraper. The facade is primarily glass and there is a slope over the entrance area.
Tivoli Properties rendering via Atlanta SKYrise Blog

Eviva Peachtree

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For several long years, Atlanta development wonks waited with baited breath for this EVIVA incarnation to materialize at a marquee location: the southeast corner of Peachtree and 6th streets. Alas, developers Integral Group removed street signage and officially pulled the plug in May. (They did, however, leave the door open, saying a “world-class development” could be in the parcel’s future.)

As eventually conceived, the 32-story tower would have stood 360 feet tall, substantially shorter than its neighbor to the north, but with design that Integral head Egbert Perry once called “iconic.”

The interior and exterior of a skyscraper. There are couches and chandeliers next to floor to ceiling windows inside of the skyscraper. The exterior is white with many windows. Perkins+Will rendering, via Integral Group

GLG Park Plaza

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Way back in 1991, Swedish architect G. Lars Gullstedt announced plans for two 65-story towers, a new park, and other amenities surrounding the Biltmore Hotel. It would’ve been a multi-billion dollar project, and Atlanta Mayor Maynard Jackson himself led the press conference, as Saporta Report relayed in 2010. But by ’93, Swedish debtors were calling on loans. Gullstedt didn’t have the dough.

An aerial view of a cityscape with several tall skyscrapers and other shorter city buildings.
The proposed GLG Park Plaza, lording over Midtown’s Biltmore.
Joe Rabun, via Saporta Report

One Museum Place tower

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Plotted for a 2009 opening, this concept by architect David Chipperfield would have brought about 80 apartments, retail, and a 15,000-square-foot contemporary art museum near 15th and Peachtree streets. Instead, pricey condos of much smaller scale have materialized there.

A city intersection and a tall skyscraper.
The original One Museum Place vision.
Chipperfield rendering via Atlanta SKYrise Blog

Trump Towers Atlanta

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Back in the pre-recession boom times, the future POTUS set sites on Atlanta as an excellent place to leave his mark in the form of a glassy two-tower development, complete with a three-story “TRUMP” sign over Midtown.

A partnership involving Donald Trump formed in 2006; plans for Phase I included a $260-million, 48-story tower at 15th and West Peachtree streets. It would feature restaurants and retail (and interior designs by Kenny Rogers), but the concept went belly up in 2010.

Emerson condos

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Shorter in physical stature but high in design ambitions, the Emerson condo tower in Buckhead by JPX Works was initially marketed as “architecture of tomorrow’s Atlanta” and an “ethereal and sculptural” nod to Frank Lloyd Wright’s famed Fallingwater house. Pre-sales never allowed the 41-unit project to take off, and by July, the cleared site was on the market.

A tall skyscraper with multiple terraces that have plant life on them.
One initial Emerson rendering.
JPX Works

Allen Plaza (Main Tower)

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This could’ve been the exclamation point on downtown’s version of Rockefeller Plaza. As the AJC once wrote, the 45-story structure “was to be the centerpiece tower of (the) ambitious, $2 billion Allen Plaza, which aimed to create a 24-hour city on Centennial Hill, with glitzy offices, hotels, and residences.” But RIP, as of 2011.

The property’s sale last year to deep-pocketed Australian firm Drapac Capital Partners, however, could indicate that high-rise potential is back on the table.

A group of buildings. There is a sign in front of them that reads: Emporis.
As seen from the Connector, the Allen Plaza vision a decade ago, with components that were realized, including a large electronic billboard and the W Atlanta—Downtown.
Emporis

Premier at Fox Plaza condos

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Thirty stories, 20,000 square feet of retail, and a restaurant were planned to go up in classical style across the street from the Fox Theatre, but developer Cousins put this “on hold” in 2009. The site festered for years. And now Midtown has a low-rise, modernistic Proton facility there.

Two tall skyscrapers next to each other. Above Atlanta

One CityPlace Buckhead

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The largest condo project ever planned for Buckhead, CityPlace was to have six condo towers with nearly 4,000 units. It was slated to consume 16 acres at Roxboro and East Paces Ferry roads, but it never secured a construction loan. Approved in 2006; plug pulled in 2008. The multifaceted AMLI 3464 project has since taken shape across much of the property.

A tall skyscraper with a curved exterior.
One proposed CityPlace facet.
via AJC archives.

Two unbuilt Promenade towers

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At 40 stories, 1989’s Promenade tower in Midtown still stands as Atlanta’s seventh tallest building. But as is, it would have been small potatoes next to substantially larger sibling towers (48 and 58 stories) that were crippled by a commercial real estate recession in the early ’90s.

Due to that instability, the existing tower was actually scaled back from the 857 feet envisioned above. Nonetheless, its tapering spire is still distinctive amid the subdistrict’s growing high-rise forest.

An aerial view of a group of three tall skyscrapers.
The trifecta that wasn’t.
Thompson, Ventulett, Stainback & Associates (TVS) and the Ai Group

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Aquarius

A tall skyscraper.
Once envisioned as the “greenest tower on Atlanta’s skyline.”
Design by Tuscany Corporation, via Inhabit

The spiel began like this: “Situated at the intersection of Luckie Street and Ivan Allen Jr. Boulevard...Aquarius Tower offers unique, unobstructed, breathtaking views of Centennial Olympic Park.” Yeah, not so much. Eye-catching design, wind-powered capabilities, with a car-parking robot. But ultimately a no-go, circa 2007.

A tall skyscraper.
Once envisioned as the “greenest tower on Atlanta’s skyline.”
Design by Tuscany Corporation, via Inhabit

Mandarin Oriental tower

A tall green skyscraper. The facade is primarily glass and there is a slope over the entrance area.
Tivoli Properties rendering via Atlanta SKYrise Blog

This concept was once described as the “Crown Jewel of the Midtown Mile”—and lambasted as a giant glassy spatula. Proposed in 2008 as an anchor of the still-developing Midtown Mile, the Mandarin Oriental condominium-hotel hybrid would have cost around $300 million and towered over Peachtree Street with 53 stories. (Another version later surfaced.)

The property was in foreclosure by early 2010 and remains a parking lot, although plans have emerged recently for a possible 530-foot YOO tower on site, with some of the same developers involved.

A tall green skyscraper. The facade is primarily glass and there is a slope over the entrance area.
Tivoli Properties rendering via Atlanta SKYrise Blog

Eviva Peachtree

The interior and exterior of a skyscraper. There are couches and chandeliers next to floor to ceiling windows inside of the skyscraper. The exterior is white with many windows. Perkins+Will rendering, via Integral Group

For several long years, Atlanta development wonks waited with baited breath for this EVIVA incarnation to materialize at a marquee location: the southeast corner of Peachtree and 6th streets. Alas, developers Integral Group removed street signage and officially pulled the plug in May. (They did, however, leave the door open, saying a “world-class development” could be in the parcel’s future.)

As eventually conceived, the 32-story tower would have stood 360 feet tall, substantially shorter than its neighbor to the north, but with design that Integral head Egbert Perry once called “iconic.”

The interior and exterior of a skyscraper. There are couches and chandeliers next to floor to ceiling windows inside of the skyscraper. The exterior is white with many windows. Perkins+Will rendering, via Integral Group

GLG Park Plaza

An aerial view of a cityscape with several tall skyscrapers and other shorter city buildings.
The proposed GLG Park Plaza, lording over Midtown’s Biltmore.
Joe Rabun, via Saporta Report

Way back in 1991, Swedish architect G. Lars Gullstedt announced plans for two 65-story towers, a new park, and other amenities surrounding the Biltmore Hotel. It would’ve been a multi-billion dollar project, and Atlanta Mayor Maynard Jackson himself led the press conference, as Saporta Report relayed in 2010. But by ’93, Swedish debtors were calling on loans. Gullstedt didn’t have the dough.

An aerial view of a cityscape with several tall skyscrapers and other shorter city buildings.
The proposed GLG Park Plaza, lording over Midtown’s Biltmore.
Joe Rabun, via Saporta Report

One Museum Place tower

A city intersection and a tall skyscraper.
The original One Museum Place vision.
Chipperfield rendering via Atlanta SKYrise Blog

Plotted for a 2009 opening, this concept by architect David Chipperfield would have brought about 80 apartments, retail, and a 15,000-square-foot contemporary art museum near 15th and Peachtree streets. Instead, pricey condos of much smaller scale have materialized there.

A city intersection and a tall skyscraper.
The original One Museum Place vision.
Chipperfield rendering via Atlanta SKYrise Blog

Trump Towers Atlanta

Back in the pre-recession boom times, the future POTUS set sites on Atlanta as an excellent place to leave his mark in the form of a glassy two-tower development, complete with a three-story “TRUMP” sign over Midtown.

A partnership involving Donald Trump formed in 2006; plans for Phase I included a $260-million, 48-story tower at 15th and West Peachtree streets. It would feature restaurants and retail (and interior designs by Kenny Rogers), but the concept went belly up in 2010.

Emerson condos

A tall skyscraper with multiple terraces that have plant life on them.
One initial Emerson rendering.
JPX Works

Shorter in physical stature but high in design ambitions, the Emerson condo tower in Buckhead by JPX Works was initially marketed as “architecture of tomorrow’s Atlanta” and an “ethereal and sculptural” nod to Frank Lloyd Wright’s famed Fallingwater house. Pre-sales never allowed the 41-unit project to take off, and by July, the cleared site was on the market.

A tall skyscraper with multiple terraces that have plant life on them.
One initial Emerson rendering.
JPX Works

Allen Plaza (Main Tower)

A group of buildings. There is a sign in front of them that reads: Emporis.
As seen from the Connector, the Allen Plaza vision a decade ago, with components that were realized, including a large electronic billboard and the W Atlanta—Downtown.
Emporis

This could’ve been the exclamation point on downtown’s version of Rockefeller Plaza. As the AJC once wrote, the 45-story structure “was to be the centerpiece tower of (the) ambitious, $2 billion Allen Plaza, which aimed to create a 24-hour city on Centennial Hill, with glitzy offices, hotels, and residences.” But RIP, as of 2011.

The property’s sale last year to deep-pocketed Australian firm Drapac Capital Partners, however, could indicate that high-rise potential is back on the table.

A group of buildings. There is a sign in front of them that reads: Emporis.
As seen from the Connector, the Allen Plaza vision a decade ago, with components that were realized, including a large electronic billboard and the W Atlanta—Downtown.
Emporis

Premier at Fox Plaza condos

Two tall skyscrapers next to each other. Above Atlanta

Thirty stories, 20,000 square feet of retail, and a restaurant were planned to go up in classical style across the street from the Fox Theatre, but developer Cousins put this “on hold” in 2009. The site festered for years. And now Midtown has a low-rise, modernistic Proton facility there.

Two tall skyscrapers next to each other. Above Atlanta

One CityPlace Buckhead

A tall skyscraper with a curved exterior.
One proposed CityPlace facet.
via AJC archives.

The largest condo project ever planned for Buckhead, CityPlace was to have six condo towers with nearly 4,000 units. It was slated to consume 16 acres at Roxboro and East Paces Ferry roads, but it never secured a construction loan. Approved in 2006; plug pulled in 2008. The multifaceted AMLI 3464 project has since taken shape across much of the property.

A tall skyscraper with a curved exterior.
One proposed CityPlace facet.
via AJC archives.

Two unbuilt Promenade towers

An aerial view of a group of three tall skyscrapers.
The trifecta that wasn’t.
Thompson, Ventulett, Stainback & Associates (TVS) and the Ai Group

At 40 stories, 1989’s Promenade tower in Midtown still stands as Atlanta’s seventh tallest building. But as is, it would have been small potatoes next to substantially larger sibling towers (48 and 58 stories) that were crippled by a commercial real estate recession in the early ’90s.

Due to that instability, the existing tower was actually scaled back from the 857 feet envisioned above. Nonetheless, its tapering spire is still distinctive amid the subdistrict’s growing high-rise forest.

An aerial view of a group of three tall skyscrapers.
The trifecta that wasn’t.
Thompson, Ventulett, Stainback & Associates (TVS) and the Ai Group