Iconic Polaris lounge set to rejoin Atlanta skyline
By Jeff Martin, AP
December 31, 2013, 12:07 am TWN
ATLANTA, Georgia--Polaris, the landmark blue dome that once dominated Atlanta's skyline, will soon reopen, nearly half a century after it was built.
When it made its debut in 1967, the Polaris lounge's futuristic flying-saucer shape and prominence atop what was the city's tallest hotel made it instantly recognizable in postcards. Its blue bubble-shaped top lit up the night sky, and it drew visitors from miles around.
“It was really a symbol of Atlanta for the whole country, and we want that to be the case again,” said Walter Woods, marketing manager at Hyatt Regency Atlanta.
The Polaris has been vacant since 2004. Now, the hotel is refurbishing the structure and adding a bar that rotates for a panoramic view. The plan is to reopen the Polaris sometime in March, said Peter McMahon, general manager of the hotel.
“It was the place of special occasions,” McMahon said, adding that he often hears from people who remember riding the Hyatt's glass elevators to reach the Polaris, perched on top of the hotel's main building.
Rock star Jim Morrison described the “strange sensation” of riding the elevators to the Polaris during a 1970 interview, before he died the following year.
“The elevators are, like, kind of Victorian rocket ships,” Morrison — in Atlanta at the time for a film festival with The Doors' documentary “Feast of Friends” — said in an audiotaped interview.
The elevators to Polaris are a key part of the overall experience, the designers renovating the space said.
“It's a transporter room. You get in there and you leave the building and you arrive in this spaceship,” Brian Finkel of the architectural and design firm the Johnson Studio said in a hotel video update on the renovation.
Finkel's colleague Bill Johnson said aspects of the Polaris' history will be apparent when it reopens.