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As restaurant concepts go, the one behind Atlas in Buckhead’s hyper-upscale St. Regis Hotel is a bold gamble. In addition to a $5 million design overhaul of the dining room—courtesy of the ubiquitous Johnson Studio—and an open kitchen whose consulting chef is Atlanta culinary icon Gerry Klaskala, Atlas boasts 23 museum-worthy paintings and drawings from one of the world’s foremost private art collections.
When word got out that downtown Atlanta’s Hyatt Regency was working to reopen the Polaris—the blue-dome saucer that was immediately a skyline hallmark when it opened in 1967—the city buzzed with excitement. Details on the redesign have been kept under wraps since, and so I was excited when I got to meet the designers at The Johnson Studio and see the space last week.
No one has designed more high-profile Atlanta restaurants than architect Bill Johnson. Some of his early projects from the late 1970s and the early 1980s—including Peachtree Cafe, where Buckhead learned to love Chardonnay at the pastel-colored fern bar—predate the creation in 1988 of the Johnson Studio, the Downtown architectural firm responsible for the atmospheres of upscale titans of the 1990s and 2000s, including Seeger’s, Joël, Bluepointe, Nava, Ciboulette, Dick and Harry’s in Roswell, and MidCity Cuisine.
ATL Food Chatter: July 10, 2009Bill Johnson, whose architectural alchemy has elevated Atlanta’s dining scene with numerous projects, has lately been moonlighting in other cities. His Johnson Studio recently designed three projects for Chicago’s Wit hotel, and the spaces have captured the attention of the national trade magazines, the local press and the New York Times.