I. M. Pei in Atlanta

Map 1...Map 2


I've never claimed to be an Architect, or to know that much about the subject. But am aware of that buildings can be more than just a place to store our things. They can be artistically aligned to complement the surroundings. One of the Greatest Modern architects has significant works here in the Atlanta Area.

I. M. Pei has been called the last great modernist architect. He studied under and is considered by some a student of Walter Gropius, one of the founders of the Bauhaus Movement. The Student in some ways surpassed the teacher because of his use of geometric angles and glass, his breath of work from churches to schools to titans of industry, and the length of career approaching 60 years. But as I said, I am not the one to discuss architecture from a position of authority. I. M. Pei also designed the Pyramide du Louvre, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and the East Wing of the National Gallery in DC among many others.

We, in Atlanta, are fortunate to have three of his buildings (There is possible fourth in the works apparently on the corner of Piedmont and Peachtree replacing the Rooms To Go building). And amazingly enough we have his first building, the Gulf Oil Building, located at 131 Ponce, which was built in 1949.

According to several sources, this building is in danger of being torn down in the name of progress. I was alerted to this issue by ATLmalcontent via Ponce De Leon. An AJC article is located here. I don't think tearing down history to put up new Atlantic Station type multiuse building that average Atlantans couldn't afford to live in is the interest of Atlanta, the community, or the world. We should embrace the fact that we have such an Icon of Architectural Brilliance and make it a focal point in the area. Hell, just a block away, they are refurbishing the Peters house. Why can't we do the same?

I go to many area musuems and am startled by all that has come and gone in this city. Could it be that since Sherman burned the town, we've never allowed ourselves to become too attached to our surroundings? This is one we should fight for. Maybe we could save it by have some concerned and successful local company lease it out?

The 131 Ponce Building is simple and by today's standards unassuming. To see where Pei's vision went, you just need to take a short drive up I-75 to the Wildwood Plaza offices. Located at 3200 Windy Hill Road just inside Atlanta, and built some 42 years later, this office is certainly a work of art. It is all the things Pei is known for: Incredible angles and glass use and a real harmony with the surroundings. This is why I. M. Pei is considered a genius. Additionally there is a pyramidal entryway that bears close resemblemce to the Pyramide du Louvre. (No word from Dan Brown as to if anyone important is buried underneath).

Pei has a third building at 46 Broad Street, that I haven't been able to photograph yet. It was built shortly after the 131 Ponce building. You can access Pei's Firm's website here

Well, there's a little bit of Architectural History right outside our front door. Let's not loose sight of where we have come from and what we have. We all like what progress brings us but we have to ask ourselves at what expense. I think the more that know about what we have, the more we'll care. I hope this little post leaves all who read it a little better informed.

1 comment:

  1. The building at 46 Broad St. was demolished according to a Docomomo walking tour brochure http://www.scribd.com/doc/46042184/DOCOMOMO-Georgia-Downtown-Walking-Tour-A-Map



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