Architect John Portman’s thoughts on expanding spirits


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I was reading the obituary of architect John Portman, who recently passed away at the age of 93. I was not familiar with him prior to this, and am fascinated by his futuristic buildings and design style. Here’s a couple pictures to give you an idea: both of these images are from inside the Atlanta Marriott Marquis Hotel, designed by Portman in the early 1980s, with construction completed in 1985.

architect John Portman atrium inside Atlanta Marriott Marquis

In reading the obituary, there was one quote by Portman that stood out as an interesting concept and a peek into his thought process for how he wanted his architecture to affect the people visiting his buildings. “Anyone can build a building and put rooms in it. But we should put human beings at the head of our thought processes. You want to hopefully spark their enthusiasm. Like riding in a glass elevator: everyone talks on a glass elevator. You get on a closed-in elevator, everyone looks down at their shoes. A glass elevator lets people’s spirits expand.” I love this! Here’s a pair of views of his glass elevators: below left is inside the Hyatt Regency in Atlanta, and below right is inside the atrium of the Marriott Marquis, Times Square, New York City. I wonder if it’s possible for non-hotel guests to go inside the NYC Marriott Marquis and ride these elevators? I might have to look into that …

glass elevators designed by architect John Portman

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