The Hub at Peachtree Center

The main goal for The Hub at Peachtree Center was to modernize this outdated mall and re-establish it as the vibrant, central gathering spot in downtown Atlanta. The design team re-imagined how the 15 million annual visitors would navigate through the space and down into the lower retail levels. Drawing inspiration from John Portman’s design principles that shaped the original design of this iconic mid-century modern downtown development, daylighting, public art, and “green” elements were integrated into an accessible, cohesively designed retail environment that provides a comfortable respite from the busy downtown streets. Clear wayfinding lead visitors easily through center and a variety of seating create spaces to eat, relax and socialize.

Design Challenge

When it first opened in 1968, Peachtree Center was an innovative, trend-setting open-air development located in the heart of Downtown Atlanta. The center underwent a major conversion into a retail mall in 1986, and the once open courts filled with hanging plants were covered over with skylights and a series of escalators installed. Over the last three decades, disjointed renovations, leaking skylights, aging infrastructure and noisy escalators have contributed to the overall deterioration of the visitor experience. A fundamental design decision was the elimination of the skylight and escalators. Besides leaking, the skylights negatively impacted thermal comfort in the mall, created intense glare a various points during the day and the glass panels – prone to breaking from falling objects – were costly to replace. The escalators (eliminated in favor of a new grand stair) created a constant mechanical din that echoed throughout the mall. The team refreshed the center with a monochromatic finish palette and introduces warm woods, green vegetation and black metal to the material palette. These finishes provide a clean, modern backdrop for the retail shop activity and the constant, colorful flow of people that move through the space. To counter the removal of the skylight-covered openings, daylighting and the connection to the outdoors were maintained with glass enclosures at key entry points and new linear skylights now guide visitors along the South Food Court. Large green walls with signage and interactive, digital directories welcome guests at the other center entries, and a new, custom information desk was centrally located in the atrium.

Physical Context

Linking the adjacent streets, a MARTA station, nearby hotels and surrounding office towers, The Hub at Peachtree Center serves as a primary pedestrian artery for this downtown district. Providing clear entrances and pathways into and through the plaza and the mall was the primary design goal, along with bringing back some of the original design intent of the 1960’s development that was lost in the 1986 mall conversion. Removing the physical and visual barriers into the plaza at street level, the modernized plaza incorporates a show-stopping glass-enclosed staircase that connects directly to The Hub’s restaurants and retail shops below. Reflective pools and fountains with seating and landscaping are displayed throughout. Transforming the streetscape, the plaza also features a suspended canopy of linear lighting elements, serving as an eye-catching signature feature that is particularly stunning at night. The refurbished glass atrium at the back features a colorful, hanging art installation, inviting guests to walk through the enlarged plaza before heading into the center. Within the atrium, elevators were installed to assist with accessibility and a new monumental stair leads visitors down to a reimagined, daylit central gathering / lounge space. Major circulation paths through North and South Food Courts are highlighted by suspended wood ceiling panels, skylights, and colored floor tile design that reinforce the path of travel into the center. New backlit, wood and marble enclosures we also added to columns along the circulation paths and lead visitors past a variety of seating options. The project was designed to allow phasing of construction and executed during non-business hours to allow all shops to remain operational throughout the renovations.