Archival Exhibit Explores the Architecture of Peachtree

"The Peachtree Way" features architectural renderings, documents, and photos of many buildings designed by Georgia Tech alumni.

Whether viewed from a car on a daily commute, or seen once a year during a six-mile race, the Peachtree Street corridor is familiar to many Atlantans. The history of its architecture and how it came to take shape, though, may be less so.  

The Georgia Tech Library and College of Architecture are presenting an archival history of the city’s main thoroughfare in a new exhibit, The Peachtree Way, hosted in the Stubbins Gallery in East Architecture through May 27.

The exhibit features architectural drawings, renderings, and modern photographs of some of Peachtree’s most iconic buildings, many of which were designed by Georgia Tech alumni.

“The School of Architecture has been here for more than a hundred years, and Georgia Tech has had a significant impact on the Peachtree corridor,” said Cathy Carpenter, head of the College of Architecture Library. The exhibit’s contents were collected over the past year by Carpenter as well as Jody Thompson, head of the Georgia Tech Library Archives, and Robin Prater, program manager for the exhibit and a Ph.D. student in the College of Architecture.

Around 30 buildings are included in the exhibit, where attendees will learn about the different types and eras of development from south to north along the corridor. Buildings were selected not only based on their role in the Peachtree cityscape, but also based on the accessibility of related archival documents.

Elements of the exhibit date as far back as 1897 with the construction of the Flatiron Building. It culminates with a section dedicated to those buildings along the corridor that have withstood various eras of construction, destruction, and development — “magnificent survivors.”

“These buildings give us an idea of what Peachtree was like once upon a time,” said Kirk Henderson, records manager for the Library and an exhibit organizer.

One section of the exhibit includes the work of John Portman, Tech alumnus and namesake for the John Portman Dean’s Chair in the College of Architecture. Another section highlights the Fox Theatre area, just east of campus, and the 1974 campaign forged to save the “fabulous” movie palace from demolition.  

“That was really a turning point for Atlanta in terms of preservation instead of destruction,” Henderson said. 

The exhibit serves as a kickoff event for a new regional archive program for Atlanta. The collaborative effort includes Georgia Tech, the Architecture and Design Center, and the Atlanta and Georgia Chapters of the American Institute of Architects (AIA). The program hopes to compile and expand a collection of significant architectural and design documents to better record history in Atlanta and Georgia. The Georgia Tech Library Archives will collect, preserve, and make the collection accessible to researchers. 

The exhibit also coincides with a national AIA convention being held in Atlanta May 14–16. Jennifer Bonner, assistant professor in the College of Architecture, and Howard Wertheimer, director of Capital Planning and Space Management, will take attendees on tours that will include a stop at the Stubbins Gallery exhibit. 

The Stubbins Gallery is open weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the East Architecture Building.

 

The Peachtree Way archival exhibit will be at the Stubbins Gallery through May 27, 2015.
The Peachtree Way archival exhibit will be at the Stubbins Gallery through May 27, 2015.
One section of The Peachtree Way exhibit highlights the Fox Theatre area, just east of campus, and the 1974 campaign forged to save the “fabulous” movie palace from demolition.  
One section of The Peachtree Way exhibit highlights the Fox Theatre area, just east of campus, and the 1974 campaign forged to save the “fabulous” movie palace from demolition.  
A model of Rhodes Hall is on loan and featured in The Peachtree Way exhibit.
A model of Rhodes Hall is on loan and featured in The Peachtree Way exhibit.
One section of The Peachtree Way exhibit includes the work of John Portman, Tech alumnus and namesake for the John Portman Dean’s Chair in the College of Architecture. 
One section of The Peachtree Way exhibit includes the work of John Portman, Tech alumnus and namesake for the John Portman Dean’s Chair in the College of Architecture.