For almost a century, one of the largest buildings in the Southeastern United States has maintained a dominating street presence in Atlanta, Georgia. Now the Ponce City Market, the building was originally designed by Nimmons, Carr and Wright Architects and built in 1925 as a Sears, Roebuck & Co. distribution and retail center, operating until 1989. In 1991, the City of Atlanta purchased the building, renamed it City Hall East and housed several public works departments, storing countless items among its 2.1 million square feet of space. As the city’s utilization of the building dwindled, Jamestown Properties stepped in and acquired the building in 2010. Five years later, Ponce City Market is poised to become one of the greatest historic rehabilitation projects in the country.
In 2009, during the economic recession in America, I was fresh out of architecture school and unable to land a job in my field. I was fortunate enough, however, to be hired by the City of Atlanta’s asset management office to help supervise the cleanup of the building that would become Ponce City Market. I was intrigued by the immense scale and detail of this largely empty edifice, and began taking photographs in an effort to preserve what I could, convinced that the building would be demolished.
Upon learning that the building would be completely renovated, I was granted permission to continue photographing the building. Each visit presented new perspectives and challenges in the midst of an active construction site. With unlimited access over the course of five years, I was able to build a comprehensive photographic record of the evolution of an architectural landmark.