In 1976 my experience with architecture had been limited to suburban ranches, old victorian farmhouses, and the occasional antebellum plantation (I grew up in Georgia, after all), so when little 6-year-old me walked into the John C. Portman-designed lobby of the Peachtree Plaza Hotel for the first time my perceptions of what the world could look like just exploded. The experience shaped my visual aesthetic and made me fall in love with concrete and brutalism — a love that still endures to this day.
Mr. Portman designed a trio of nearly identical, silver, cylindrical buildings: one in Atlanta, one in Detroit (the Renaissance Center, now GM’s world headquarters), and one in LA, the Westin Bonaventure, where I am today. I spent my childhood enamored with Peachtree Plaza, in Atlanta, and spent my college years occasionally wandering around the Renaissance Center, in Detroit, so this visit to Bonaventure feels like the completion of one of the story arcs of my life.
I don’t know if I believe in destiny or preordination but I do know that we’re free to assign meaning to whatever events and coincidences we experience in our lives. The fact that I’m here for work, and will be creating art of my own based upon Mr. Portman’s art seems significant and meaningful to me. The hotel opened in 1976, but forty-two years later it still looks and feels like the future to me, and my little concrete-loving heart hasn’t stopped pitter-patting since I walked through the lobby doors.
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