24th Feb 2015 5:30pm-6:30pm
Emperor Room, Mithras House
The Atrium Effect
Vast interior spaces have become ubiquitous in the contemporary city. From the soaring atriums of mega-hotels, mecca-museums and shopping malls, to the convoluted tubes and endless concourses of transport interchanges, these urban interiors define an increasingly normal experience of being ‘inside’ a city. Yet these spaces are often the object of opprobrium in specialist literature and popular opinion, which claim that the quality of a city has to do with its exterior environment, an authentic urban experience only being possible ‘on the outside’. This lecture will explore the roots of this contemporary tension between inside and outside by discussing the emergence of the atrium hotel in the work of American architect and developer John Portman. With the Hyatt Regency Atlanta of 1967, and the Peacthree Centre development which it catalyzed, Portman provided a new model for the development of the beleaguered American downtown, the atrium hotel and its attendant pedestrian connectors proliferating through the work of countless architectural firms in cities across the globe. Yet the time between the atrium’s emergence in 1967, and its apotheosis in the 44-storey void of Portman’s Atlanta Marriot Marquis of 1984, frames what is commonly viewed as an extended period of crisis in the American city, and especially its downtown. The lecture will consider what this period has meant for the discipline of architecture in its urban vocation, and how an understanding of the atrium’s emergence and its urban effects is important for grasping transformation in cities into the future.
Charles Rice is an architectural historian, theorist and critic. He studied at the University of Adelaide, the University of Queensland, the London Consortium (Birkbeck, University of London), and received his PhD from the University of New South Wales. He was Lecturer in the Architecture Programme at the University of New South Wales from 2000-2005, and, until 2010, Associate Professor in the School of Architecture at the University of Technology Sydney. He has also taught undergraduate and graduate history and theory seminars at the Architectural Association School of Architecture, and has lectured at universities and institutions internationally. He joined Kingston as Professor and Head of the School of Art and Design History in December 2010.
Charles is Professor of Architecture at the University of Technology Sydney. He is author of The Emergence of the Interior (2007) and co-editor of The Journal of Architecture.