The story behind Jarel Portman’s Emerson tower

Just north of Peachtree Battle Shopping Center, the 21-story condo tower will feature 44 luxury homes
Jarel Portman tower
Rendering courtesy of JPX Emerson

When John Portman was a student at Georgia Tech, the now-nonagenarian was assigned the job of escorting Frank Lloyd Wright around Atlanta. According to John’s son Jarel, Wright told the aspiring architect, “You seem to be a seeker. Go seek Emerson.” John took Wright’s counsel to heart, adopting the poet’s reverence for both natural elements and self-reliance.

Jarel channeled similar values when launching a bold new 21-story condo tower at 2520 Peachtree, just north of Peachtree Battle Shopping Center. Its ethereal design—with dramatic cantilevered terraces and “pinwheel” layout—is an homage to the famous Wright-designed residence Fallingwater. Its name, the Emerson, is a nod to Wright’s long-ago advice.

“I was hesitant because it was really my father’s story,” says Jarel. “But I grew up reading Emerson. My father’s been my greatest mentor, and I wanted to pay tribute to my dad.”

The tower will feature 44 homes, each serviced by a private elevator, with prices starting at about $1.8 million. The project is being directed by Jarel and Bruce Fernald’s firm JPX Works, which previously developed Inman Quarter. The sales center opened in May at ADAC West, with the goal of breaking ground by fall.

This article originally appeared in the Summer 2016 edition of Atlanta Magazine’s HOME.