Contact: Jim Jaquish
(ATLANTA – Oct 28, 2016)
The Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) presented its 18th annual Developments of Excellence awards at today’s State of the Region breakfast, recognizing quality developments and places that keep the 10-county Atlanta region a desirable place to live and work.
The top award, the 2016 Development of Excellence, went to architecture firm Kronberg Wall, which creatively restored a historic church in Atlanta’s Reynoldstown neighborhood for its new offices. ARC also presented its first Developments of Excellence Lifetime Achievement Award to John C. Portman, Jr. for his extraordinary vision as an architect, developer and community leader.
Other awards recognized a renovated park in Jonesboro, a retrofitted suburban shopping center in Smyrna, the Atlanta region’s three national parks and a landmark downtown Atlanta building that has been refurbished to house a Walgreens pharmacy.
Lifetime Achievement Award
John C. Portman Jr.
Architect & Developer
ARC presented its first Developments of Excellence Lifetime Achievement Award to John C. Portman, Jr., an architect and developer whose groundbreaking projects helped define and energize downtown Atlanta and give the region its distinctive skyline.
As owner/developer, Mr. Portman designed and built AmericasMart in downtown Atlanta, which has served as a catalyst for the region’s economy. The first Mart building opened in 1961, but AmericasMart has grown into a three-building campus of 7.2 million square feet that attracts more than 566,000 people a year.
Mr. Portman’s landmark Peachtree Center complex is a vibrant downtown hub and a model for mixed-use developments around the world.
Mr. Portman also developed, designed and built three of Atlanta’s most iconic hotels which anchor the downtown convention district: The Hyatt Regency Atlanta, Atlanta Marriott Marquis and The Westin Peachtree Plaza. The Marriott Marquis’ stunning, soaring atrium is still used today by Hollywood to depict the future.
“Mr. Portman’s buildings reflect his humanity, as he has always designed projects that, in his words, ‘enhance life’ for the people who use them,” said ARC chairman Kerry Armstrong.
His company now works across the globe, with recent projects gracing skylines from Charlotte to Shanghai. But Mr. Portman leaves no greater legacy than what we see all around us: a thriving downtown Atlanta community.
Emily Ann Munnell
ARC Development of Excellence
Kronberg Wall Offices
Atlanta’s Reynoldstown Community
The historic Bearden Temple AME Church building, formerly St. Philip AME Church, has been a fixture in Atlanta’s Reynoldstown community since 1922. Bu, the 4,800 square foot church, made of sturdy Stone Mountain granite, closed a few years ago and faced possible demolition. Now the building has been reborn as headquarters for the Atlanta architecture firm, Kronberg Wall.
The original 18 stained-glass windows have been restored and protected. The hardwood floors have been refinished, but still gently slope from the back of the former sanctuary to the front. Office furniture has been customized to accommodate the incline.
The downstairs has been converted into office space, now occupied by the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition. Kronberg Wall also added important “green” touches – a new furnace and energy-efficient fixtures. The building is expected to soon achieve LEED certification.
The historic building is located a short walk from MARTA’s Inman Park-Reynoldstown station, and the Atlanta BeltLine trail will soon run along Wylie Street, just outside the building’s front door.
Exceptional Merit for LCI Achievement
Lee Street Park & Amphitheater
City of Jonesboro
Each year, ARC presents an award to a community that is making strides in the implementation of its vision, crafted through ARC’s Livable Centers Initiative (LCI). The LCI program provides grants to help communities reinvent themselves as more vibrant, walkable and bike-friendly places.
This year’s winner is Lee Street Park, which was renovated and expanded by the City of Jonesboro. The formerly underutilized facility has been transformed into a popular destination, and has already welcomed thousands of people for concerts and other special events since opening this spring.
The 5.7-acre park connects the downtown commercial district to residential neighborhoods, the nearby GRTA park-and-ride lot, and Tara Boulevard. Adjacent to several schools, the park’s two stages, playground, market, and walking trail are perfect for large gatherings, family fun or a relaxing stroll. The city hopes that the park’s allure to residents will also draw more economic development to the downtown area and spur the local economy.
Ricky L. Clark, Jr.
Exceptional Merit for Suburban Retrofit
The Belmont development in Smyrna turned an aging strip shopping center into a walkable, mixed-use community.
The 50-acre site at the corner of Atlanta Road and Windy Hill Road was originally developed in the early 1950s and was one of the largest shopping centers in the Southeast. The new Belmont development features a mix of single-family attached homes, apartments, retail, office and a public elementary school, with a design that accommodates people of all ages.
The site is adjacent to Cobb County’s Campbell High School and is connected to nearby Smyrna Market Village, the Chattahoochee River and Kennesaw Mountain by the surrounding network of streets, trails and sidewalks.
Exceptional Merit for Historic Preservation
Walgreens in Historic Olympia Building
Encore Real Estate Development
Encore Real Estate Development renovated the historic Olympia Building at Five Points in downtown Atlanta for a new Walgreens pharmacy that opened this summer.
With help from architecture firm ASD |SKY, the Great Depression-era building was gutted and rebuilt as a 22,000 square foot Walgreens pharmacy, serving local residents, workers and students.
One of a very few two-story buildings left in Downtown Atlanta, the Olympia sits on the site of Atlanta’s first post office. And don’t worry, the Coca-Cola sign installed atop the building in 2003 is not going anywhere.
Great Place Award
The Atlanta Region’s National Parks: Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park, Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site
National Park Service
The 2016 Great Place Award recipient is the National Park Service for its three metro Atlanta units: the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, the Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park and the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site.
As the nation observes 100 years of the National Park Service, the Developments of Excellence jury thought it was appropriate to celebrate the contributions of these wonderful amenities that serve to protect our natural resources, preserve our history and attract thousands of visitors to our region each year.
For the past several years, ARC has presented a Great Place award to a neighborhood, street or public place that contributes to and enhances metro Atlanta’s character. Past winners include Piedmont Park, Oakland Cemetery, Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area and the Marietta Square.
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