Research: "John Portman and La Nuit Américaine: The Skyscraper in the Imagined City", Daniel Lopez-Perez, University of San Diego; 102nd ACSA: Peer-reviewed Conference Proceedings, Miami (April, 2014)

This paper analyzes the challenges facing the tall building in the1970s, particularly in the relationship between the skyscraper and the city. It does so through the study of John Portman’s Marriott Marquis Project in Times Square (1973-1985) as an emblematic example of the urban paradoxes that emerge due to the implementation of a mix-use formula and the introduction of an urban exterior deep within the building’s interior. The paper explores Portman’s distortion of the typology through the introduction of the atrium as a liminal space that synthesizes interior and exterior urban space through a gradient of natural and artificial spatial conditions. Rather than falling into a reductive dichotomy of “real” and “imaginary,” this paper argues that the virtue of Portman’s project in New York lies in its capacity to synthesize both conditions, shedding light into this project as a way to reflect upon the urban challenges facing the tall building in the contemporary city.