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John Portman, Architect of the FW National Bank Passes Away at 93


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#1 John T Roberts

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Posted 30 December 2017 - 09:36 PM

John Portman, the Atlanta based architect who designed the Fort Worth National Bank Building (now The Tower) passed away today at 93.  He was the "Father of the Modern Atrium" and he designed many hotels and buildings.  The Hyatt Regency in Atlanta was his first modern atrium.  When he designed the Fort Worth National Bank, he turned the atrium inside out by dropping the building's core through the center of the atrium and the it completely surrounded the core with the office building above.  Later on, at the Bonaventure Hotel in Los Angeles, and the Renaissance Center in Detroit, he dropped the cores of five buildings through a huge atrium lobby.

 

Below is a downtown aerial of the building and the construction of the Tandy Center taken in 1978.  The photo is from the Tarrant County Archives.

TandyCenter1980WallsColl-wb2.jpg



#2 Now in Denton

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Posted 31 December 2017 - 10:53 AM

I wonder what his thoughts were of the remodel after the tornado ? 



#3 Austin55

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Posted 31 December 2017 - 04:01 PM

Anyone have photos of the lobby?

#4 John T Roberts

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Posted 31 December 2017 - 06:08 PM

I was there when they opened the building, but since it was a bank, I never took pictures inside.  The bank lobby was one floor below grade and the four entrances led to sky bridges where you caught an escalator or elevator into the main banking floor.  The sloped base was completely open except for the elevator, escalator, and stair core going through the center.  I have also looked at UTA Library's photos, and I could not find any interior pictures.



#5 bg-raves

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Posted 01 January 2018 - 02:54 PM

Here is a link to an album of photos taken during the renovation.  The first photos were taken in the summer of 2003 after work had already started, so I don't have any photos of the interior pre-demolition.

 

http://s1345.photobu...00 throckmorton



#6 John T Roberts

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Posted 01 January 2018 - 06:14 PM

Those are fantastic interior photos of the space before the renovations progressed too far.  It at least shows the unique interior space that Portman created.  Thank you for posting a link to these.



#7 JBB

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Posted 01 January 2018 - 10:49 PM

I can remember going into the lobby a number of times as a kid when my mom needed to do business at the bank.  It was impressive.  I walked through it a few times on the way to eat at Reata with at least a couple of those times being in the post tornado stretch before they moved out of the building. 



#8 Austin55

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Posted 01 January 2018 - 10:53 PM

I've often complained FW doesn't have many beautiful lobbies and nothing can beat a Portman. While the space looks like it was unique and magnificent, the new look is much better fitting to am urban environment and the whole building looks improved.

#9 Now in Denton

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Posted 02 January 2018 - 05:30 AM

Here is a link to an album of photos taken during the renovation.  The first photos were taken in the summer of 2003 after work had already started, so I don't have any photos of the interior pre-demolition.

 

http://s1345.photobu...00 throckmorton

 

If you look at bg-raves top row of photos second from the right. The one with the "ribs" That area was a cafeteria. Or at least it was back in the 80's when I had a part time job cleaning after hours.  And if you notice a colorful tapestry that is partly down. That was part of the décor. That went all the way down to the back lobby. After they did a remodel, I think around 1986 ?  And if you also notice a door less entry way. Along the outer edge of the office floor slanted wall ? Inside was more office space. But a very tight space.

 

And believe it or not. There was still more to see, in the center and a floor below was a water fountain. People would drop coins in it. Even from the escalator that went from the main floor to the second. And there was a break room I think on the 10th floor facing north. I don't agree the remodel was a "looks improved" If anything working at this bank as a teen. I was in awe of this unique wonderful open space. In fact. I credit this building a lot for sparking my interest, and you might say my hobby in architecture. I asked what John Portman may have thought of this renovation ? But for me I feel sad this very unique open space lobby is gone. Too bad they could not leave it as is and maybe turn it into a restaurant. You would not think a below floor restaurant would work. And I might of agreed. But I guess you had to be there yourself and see and feel how inviting it was.



#10 JBB

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Posted 02 January 2018 - 12:06 PM

I remember the fountain in the old lobby.

 

The exterior of the remodel is a definite improvement over the original, especially from a pedestrian interaction standpoint, but the interior did lose a lot of the character that it had before.

 

The EECU building on 7th and Penn has a similar atrium to the old Bank One lobby, albeit on a much smaller scale.  Exposed concrete, a large angled wall of windows, natural light.  It was also remodeled drastically after the tornado, but it kept a lot of those original characteristics.






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