Urbanism Offenders in Midtown
Midtown always gets the Manhattan comparison. It’s touted as the best place in Atlanta to live the “big city” lifestyle, whatever that really means. And for the most part, it is conducive to decent urbanism. That’s not to say the picture’s perfect. Midtown’s got its fair share of planning mistakes and architecture that does nothing to add to the street experience, something I’ve really noticed over the past couple of weeks. These are a few that really grind my gears.
First up is the block bounded by Peachtree, 14th, 15th, and W.Peachtree, home to 1180 Peachtree, One Atlantic Center, and the Proscenium building; it was also at one time floated around for the location of a new symphony structure. I hate how large this block is. Although all the buildings went up in different years, it seems like the overriding theme over time was to create this kind of office park in the city. Granted there is a pedestrian connection that makes its way mid-block through the landscaping, but because of the way it’s elevated it doesn’t come across as common knowledge.
In my own little world, Peachtree Walk would have been extended between 14th and 15th, with buildings coming right up to it. Too bad I don’t make those decisions. 1180 Peachtree is a great building, and One Atlantic Center at least comes up to the street, but I there’s a special place in architectural hell for the building that houses Norfolk Southern at 1200 Peachtree. It’s just bad. Why did Colony Square have to set a precedent with buildings angled off the street? Even the choo-choo train set up behind the glass comes off as an insipid gesture that does little to make up for the lack of pedestrian interest.
Next up on my Debbie Downer rant is 715 Peachtree, at 3rd Street. What a hunk of crap. Featuring the best of 1972 federal prison styling, the rental listing for this doozie describes it as “a true walkable, urban setting for business.” I can assure you this thing is doing nothing to support that kind of environment. Was Midtown that much of a war zone in 1972 that the designer of 715 felt the need to go to such great lengths to disengage this building off from the street? A sidewalk occupant is greeted with a low stone wall that cuts one off from a plaza that’s basically purposeless. The first level facade is composed of blank wall space topped with slits of windows, as if the occupants are standing on chairs peeking outside to see if it’s safe to wander out. Entry to the building is gained somewhere down 3rd Street, as opposed to celebrating its Peachtree location. Makes sense, right?