the histories of our streets

Georgia State University students map Atlanta's past

Author: Isaac Kirwan

The William Oliver Building: Atlanta’s Original Art-Deco Highrise

The William Oliver in 1930

Downtown Atlanta is certainly devoid of many of its original prominent buildings. Just a few, such as the comically endearing wedge-shaped Flatiron Building and the lavishly decorated Candler Building sit amongst modernist monuments to an era of Urban Renewal and post-war corporatism. One of these surviving buildings was also the city’s first entry into the Art Deco wave of the late ’20s and ’30s, the William Oliver building.

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Five Points Plaza: Unusually Underrated

Me, Isaac, standing in on the plaza level of Five Points MARTA Station with Five Points Plaza in the backgroud.

One of my absolute favorite buildings and one of the most underrated buildings in Downtown Atlanta is Five Points Plaza, also known as 40 Marietta Street. This building was designed by Tomberlin and Sheets architecture firm in 1964 for the First Federal Savings and Loan Association of Atlanta and now houses the Atlanta offices of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

View of the top 14 floors of Five Points Plaza.
Five Points Plaza located at 40 Marietta Street Downtown Atlanta

I love this building due to the unique retro design, which used a design language similar to many of the midrise structures that dominate Tokyo and other large cities in Japan and East Asia. It also reminds me of something that Frank Lloyd Wright would have done if he had the chance to build more highrises. This building serves as a great contrast to the grey brutalist five points station, as well as the lovely brick buildings of the adjacent Farlie Poplar Historic District. I like to look at it and imagine having a large apartment inside that uses the retro-futurism vibe from the exterior for some awesome sci-fi interior potential, perhaps similar to Deckard’s apartment from Blade Runner, but more refined and practical.

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