Kudos to readers and commenters who’ve coined the perfect phrase to describe the design trend, generally speaking, for newer towers around Atlanta’s most rapidly growing districts: the glassy, high-rise cereal box.  

But as three new sky-rises that have finished construction or begun leasing this spring prove, that description isn’t always applicable. Thank goodness.

Despite rate hikes and ballooned construction costs, compelling design is indeed still viable, each project seems to prove. All three have put something in the skies over intown Atlanta worth actually pondering for a moment. While none of them are an overt, flashy architectural statement (surely not the intention in the first place), they aren’t instantly forgettable either.

Recent street-level photos of, from left, Momentum Midtown, Forth Atlanta, and Emmi, which have all come online this spring in Midtown and O4W. Josh Green/Urbanize Atlanta

To put it more bluntly, are Momentum Midtown, Emmi Midtown, and the BeltLine-fronting Forth Atlanta project proof that not all buildings of significant height have to suck around here?

A quick primer, starting in Old Fourth Ward:

The distinctive Forth hotel tower, at left, and Overline Residences apartments, as seen from Historic Fourth Ward Park earlier this year. Josh Green/Urbanize Atlanta

^ On pace for a grand opening in coming weeks, 16-story Forth Atlanta is the $150-million boutique hotel piece of New City Properties’ broader Fourth Ward Project. It counts a diamond-patterned exoskeleton and interiors described as “rich and tailored,” a warmer contrast to the modern exterior of concrete and glass. Expect four food-and-beverage concepts, 196 luxury hotel rooms, and 39 apartment-style, furnished units designed for longer stays. As with the stair-stepped Overline Residences apartments next door, New York-based Morris Adjmi Architects designed the project.

"Emmi" branding over Spring Street. The building's "dynamic façade incorporates a large-scale framework, defined by random groupings of inboard balconies," per JPX. Courtesy of JPX Works; designs, RJTR (architecture), Square Feet Studio (interiors)

After two years of construction, the 31-story Emmi tower is expected to see its first-move-ins this month over the intersection of Spring and 18th streets in Midtown. The “comfortably chic” building—developed by Atlanta-based JPX Works and partners Zeller and Manulife Investment Management, with designs by Atlanta’s RJTR architecture—brought 326 apartments to a postage-stamp, .54-acre corner site. The least expensive apartment option currently listed is a 466-square-foot studio on the 11th floor, near the pool, which is renting for $1,855 monthly.

Momentum Midtown's two new tower components, as seen looking north from 10th Street this month.Josh Green/Urbanize Atlanta

Also in Midtown, the two-pronged Momentum project by Toll Brothers Apartment Living includes Tetris-like facades with eye-catching geometry to the north and south. The 36th-floor rooftop is entirely devoted to amenities, including a pool and sundeck with cabanas, a game room, private dining space, plus a bar and lounge with panoramic city views. The least expensive apartment listed to date is a 500-square-foot studio going for $1,970 monthly, but larger options on choice floors are commanding rents north of $6,500.

Granted, none of these projects will make a dent in Atlanta’s affordable housing crisis, and none offer for-sale condo properties that could help Atlantans build equity.

But they do provide living and lodging options in a growing city—and in a refreshing way that, at worst, doesn’t trigger snores, and at best, just might be inspiring.


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