Designer and other creative types find a home—and inspiration—in this modern Buckhead condo complex, celebrating 40 years on Peachtree Road.
The boxy architecture and gray façade of Plaza Towers doesn’t have the glitz or glam of Buckhead’s shiny new residential towers, and that’s perfectly fine with the design insiders and enthusiasts who live there. Some have long been intrigued by what’s believed to be Atlanta’s first residential high-rise, where open floor plans and spacious rooms have allowed them to create living spaces that showcase their personal style.
Many of the residents have discovered a common bond based on their love of architecture and design, making the Peachtree Road complex like a designers’ dorm, says resident Barry Leach, coordinator of the interior design department at American InterContinental University.
Plaza Towers turns 40 this year, but doesn’t seem to be aging in the least, and the interior design of individual units remains as diverse as the list of residents who call the complex home.
That’s no surprise, considering the roster of the two minimalist towers; it’s a who’s who of designers as well as shop and showroom owners: Andrea and Jason Moattar of Moattar Ltd.; Jennifer Boles of ThePeakOfChic.com; ADAC showroom owners Hal Ainsworth and Winton Noah, of Ainsworth-Noah & Associates, and Dotty Travis of Travis & Company; Jim and Phoebe Howard, owners of Mrs. Howard and Max & Co.; Douglas Self, owner of AmericasMart’s J. Douglas Atlanta trade showroom; estate broker J. Clayton Spears; commercial interior designer Jenny Anderson; and fashion designer Knox Clayton.
“Almost everybody is here because they appreciate the building’s architecture,” says Rory Carlton, a principal in business-to-business marketing and public relations firm Arketi Group. “You get a lot of like-minded people.”
The atmosphere is such that people can be “famous during the day,” as Leach says, and then have the privacy they desire at night, partly because each floor has only four units.
“I’ve always wanted to live here,” says Clayton, who attended the opening of the building’s upscale Tango restaurant back in the ’70s. He remembers the restaurant’s all-white décor, draperies billowing to the floor and the modern furniture. Ironically, Clayton’s three-bedroom fifth-floor condo recalls a bit of that history; the residence incorporates part of the restaurant’s original ceiling.
On the Market
$1.35 million (top)
UNITS 24C AND D
A renovated three-bedroom, 3½-bath condo boasting an open floor plan with designer fixtures and unobstructed 360-degree views of Atlanta.
Listing by Joe Cochran with Metro Brokers/GMAC Real Estate.
A three-bedroom, 2½-bath condo renovated by Clark Interiors, featuring hardwood floors, granite countertops, Sub-Zero appliances, custom built-ins and a double walk-in closet in the master suite. Listing by Carla McGlothlin with Re/Max of Buckhead.
An original two-bedroom, two-bath condo with a downtown view and separate dining room.
Listing by Carla McGlothlin with Re/Max of Buckhead.
Part of the appeal of this building is that minimal supporting columns allow for dramatic renovations within individual units. Some residents, in fact, define these “blank slates”—in conjunction with the blocky exterior—as a Brutalist style of modernism.
“You have a lot of creative freedom in the way that you approach the space,” Carlton says. “You’ll see different people do different things with it. Some people have taken a traditional approach, some have something more transitional and others stick to the minimalist aesthetic.”
Phillip Rubin and his wife, Meg, were attracted to the simplicity of the architecture when they purchased in Plaza Towers five years ago. They’ve developed close friendships with neighbors who join them in dinner clubs and on vacation.
“The beauty of this building is the 9-foot windows that wrap around. We took advantage of every inch of window area we could,” Rubin says. “Light just flows through this space. In most condos you have some very dark areas, but not in this one.”
Vistas are part of the appeal, too, for Micha and Jenny Anderson, a senior interior designer with Hendrick. Their two-bedroom, two-bath unit on the 21st floor has a view of Garden Hills’ duck pond that creates a kind of Central Park feel, says Micha, who has lived in New York. Meanwhile, its location just north of Lindbergh Drive and south of Wesley Road adds to the residential feel.
“It’s far enough away from the Lenox traffic and far enough away from all the zillions of new condos being built in Midtown,” says Micha, president of Plaza Towers’ condo board. “A lot of people that are looking for high-rise condos in Buckhead immediately go to the new properties. They end up driving by Plaza Towers and saying, ‘Oh, what about that building?’ Next thing they know they’re looking here. It’s a hidden kind of property.”
HISTORY OF THE STREET: Originally an apartment complex, Plaza Towers was designed by architect Ted Levy in the late 1960s. The towers were renovated and turned into condominiums about 10 years later, and Brad Epperson won an ASID award for his modern update of the lobbies a few years ago. There’s a maximum of four units per floor (some owners have combined units) with approximately 200 units total. The former Tango space is now used as a party area, called the Plaza Room, with a kitchen, wet bar and baby grand piano. Amenities such as a workout room, which was the original party and game room and once offered liquor lockers for residents, also has another original feature—women’s and men’s saunas. Other amenities include a concierge, parking and a dog run.
WHERE TO DINE AND SHOP: One of the city’s most anticipated retail projects, The Streets of Buckhead, is adding luxury retail and dining options less than a half mile away. Boutiques set to open in the half-million-square-foot project, many of which will be debuting in Atlanta, will include Hermès, Oscar de la Renta, Etro and Christofle, along with restaurants such as New York’s Japonais, La Goulue and Le Colonial. Plaza Towers also is within walking distance of Peachtree Battle Shopping Center, the latest additions of which include Gramercy Home and Cafe Lapin (by the owners of ADAC’s Le Lapin Restaurant). Trendy food spots such as Whole Foods, Starbucks and Trader Joe’s also are nearby, as are restaurants such as chef Linton Hopkins’ Holeman and Finch Public House, award-winning Restaurant Eugene and H&F Bread Co.—and, of course, La Grotta Ristorante Italiano, which is next door.