Saying someone is “ahead of his time” is typically regarded as a compliment. But in the case of post-modern architect John Portman, it’s somewhat backhanded: many of his buildings have become backdrops for post-apocalyptic futures in films like The Hunger Games and Insurgent.
The 92-year-old architect was a master of disorienting scale, as shown in his towering hotel atriums designed mostly in the 1970s and 1980s. Just as medieval cathedrals all but force you to crane your neck to marvel at their height, so do Portman’s hotel interiors, which are prominently featured in Portman’s America, a new book from Lars Müller.
“Portman’s buildings appeal to the dystopian imagination,” historian K. Michael Hays writes in an essay appearing in the book.
They are distinctly impersonal, with repetitive patterns, hulking proportions, and austere materials, like concrete. The architect often outfitted his buildings with glass elevators that let riders take in the enormity of the space as they move between floors. It’s no wonder he’s a sci-fi director’s favorite architect.
Portman designed hotels for with variations on this theme in Atlanta, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York. See them in the slide show above.DB