John Portman, Architect Of The Modern Hotel Design, Passed Away Yesterday

You probably don’t know who John Portman was.  But, you’ve almost certainly walked through one of his creations.  John Portman is credited with creating the modern, open-air design we see in many buildings.  Specifically, many of the atrium hotels built with glass elevators.

Think of the Hyatt Regency Atlanta or the Marriott Marquis in Times Square.  The New York Times has a great quote from him in their article chronicling his life:

“Anyone can build a building and put rooms in it,” he told The Times in 2011. “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. Architecture should be a symphony.”

I never thought about elevators that way.  But, he’s right.  I do mostly look at my shoes in a closed-in elevator.  When I’m with my family, I watch my kids “ooh” and “aah” as the glass elevator rises quickly through dozens of floors of open space.

The Final Two Pennies

The passing of John Portman will likely be a quiet one for most of the world.  Many folks will walk through his buildings today without realizing who he was.  Time moves on.  Designs change.  Still, I imagine we’ll see the influence of John Portman in architectural designs for years to come.

Atrium At The Hyatt Regency Atlanta

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