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Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Designer of downtown Fort Worth landmark, architect John C. Portman Jr., dies at 93

ATLANTA (AP) — John C. Portman Jr., an architect and developer known for his post-modernist designs that helped reshaped cities such as Atlanta and New York, has died. He was 93.

Portman was the architect who designed the Fort Worth National Bank Building, now The Tower, which opened in 1974. When it opened, the 35-story building was the tallest in Fort Worth at 488 feet.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed offered condolences to Portman’s family and said the architect’s love for Atlanta “is well known and unrivaled.”

Portman’s revolutionary designs redefined urban landscapes, though sometimes not without controversy. The New York Times reported that some of his buildings were criticized as concrete islands and self-contained cities within cities.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that no single architect shaped Atlanta’s skyline like Portman. He gave the city the cylindrical Westin Peachtree Plaza hotel as well as the AmericasMart, an array of buildings downtown where wholesale goods are bought and sold. The newspaper said Portman died Friday.

He also left his mark from San Francisco to Shanghai, and helped revitalize Times Square with his famed New York Marriott Marquis.

“Anyone can build a building and put rooms in it,” he told The New York 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.”

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said few people had shaped the city as much as Portman.

“His signature is written in the Atlanta skyline,” Reed said in a statement. “His love for our city – and for Downtown Atlanta – is well known and unrivaled.”

Portman is survived by his wife of 73 years, Joan Newton (Jan) Portman; his children Michael Wayne (Jody) Portman, John Calvin (Jack) Portman, III, Jeffrey Lin Portman and his wife Lisa, Jana Lee Portman Simmons and her husband Jed, and Jarel Penn Portman and his wife Traylor; his siblings Glenda Portman Dodrill, Anne Portman Davis, Joy Portman Roberts and her husband Phil; nineteen grandchildren, five great-grandchildren, many nieces, nephews, cousins, and other relatives and loved ones.

A public service is planned for Friday, January 5, 2018 at 12:30 pm in the atrium of AmericasMart Building 3 at the corner of John Portman Boulevard (Historic Harris Street) and Ted Turner Drive (Historic Spring Street). Portman generously, and often anonymously, supported many important causes throughout his life. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that contributions be made to the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University, Office of Gift Records, Emory University, 1762 Clifton Rd. NE, Suite 1400, Atlanta, GA 30322. Condolences may be sent in care of Jana Portman Simmons, Portman Holdings, 303 Peachtree Center Avenue, NE, Suite 575, Atlanta, GA 30303.

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