John Portman – Art and Architecture exhibit opens in Beijing

Locale Marks Third Stop in Museum Tour Highlighting Five Decades of Work and Inspiration by the Acclaimed Architect.

The “John Portman Art & Architecture” exhibition opened at the Capital Museum in Beijing on Friday, April 15, 2011. On display through June 12, 2011, the exhibition features an impressive sampling of architecture, furniture, paintings and sculpture from renowned architect-developer-artist John C. Portman, Jr.’s five decades of work.

The exhibition, which kicked off in Portman’s hometown of Atlanta, Georgia, is curated by the High Museum of Art in Atlanta with the Beijing showing being co-organized by Beijing Design Week and Capital Museum, China. Beijing is the third stop for “John Portman Art & Architecture” — following the works being displayed at the Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Center in 2010.

“John Portman has not only radically altered the skyline of his home city, Atlanta, but cities throughout the world,” stated Jeffrey Grove, who curated the exhibition. “His reconsideration of how architecture should function and the experience it should offer visitors completely changed the industry. Early in his career, Portman understood that to realize his vision completely, he must add developer to his role as architect. All these themes are addressed in the exhibition.”

Portman, founder of John Portman & Associates, Portman Holdings, ADAC and AmericasMart, has a long history of involvement in China’s architectural landscape. Portman was one of the first American architects invited to China by the former vice-premier Deng Xiaoping in 1979 when China opened its doors to the West. As a result of that trip, Portman was one of the earliest firms to enter China, and its 30 years of design and development have affirmed Portman’s continuing commitment to China.

Portman notes, “Connecting with art, whether viewing a painting, hearing a fine symphony or participating in artistic expression yourself, allows you to get to the core of who you are, which inevitably shapes how you see the world and how you create solutions for the world around you.” That mindset pervades his work, as Portman shares, “It is all about people. I watch what people do; I try to understand why they do it. The best design is one that comes from a holistic point of view, taking everything—from the environment to economics—under consideration. The best business people are solution finders rather than sellers of things.”

The “Art & Architecture” exhibition will highlight nine of Portman’s projects in Asia: Marina Square, Singapore, 1987; Tomorrow Square, Shanghai, China, 2003; Beijing Yintai Centre, Beijing, China, 2008; and current projects including Jin Honqiao International Center, Shanghai, China; Zhe Jiang Fortune Finance Center, Hangzhou, China; Wenzhou Zhixin Plaza Wenzhou, China; Songdo Landmark City Master Plan, Incheon, Korea and Incheon 151 Tower at Songdo Landmark City, Incheon, Korea; and Portman House| Jian Ye Li, Shanghai, China.

Beyond the works showcased in the exhibition, Portman’s designs can be seen via two Portman projects currently underway in China. In Shanghai, the Waldorf Astoria on the Bund is under construction. This project will restore, preserve and update the former Shanghai Club at historic No. 2 Bund. Portman is also currently working on the OCT Bao’on Hotel and Serviced Apartments in Shenzen.

See “American art-itect” article from the “Global Times.”

See “Building Communities” article from “China Daily.”

About John Portman & Associates/Portman Holdings

John Portman & Associates, Inc. is an internationally recognized architectural and engineering firm with offices in Atlanta, Georgia and Shanghai, China. Established in 1953, the firm has 55 years of expertise in designing hotels, offices, trade marts, universities and mixed-use urban complexes. Also Portman Holdings, Portman’s Development Company, is internationally recognized for its domestic and international projects. For more information about John Portman & Associates, please visit; for more information about Portman Holdings, please visit

About Capital Museum, China

The plan for the Capital Museum, located in the Confucius Temple, was prepared in 1953. The museum formally opened in 1981. As a major cultural construction project in Beijing in the “10th Five-Year Plan,” the new Capital Museum, approved by Beijing Municipal Government in 1999, further approved by the State Council after being submitted by the National Development and Reform Commission in 2001, finally commenced its construction in December 2001. Under the concern and guidance of Beijing Municipal Government, after four years of hard work, the museum finally makes its debut along the western extension of Chang’an Street, the First Street of China. With its magnificent architecture, abundant exhibitions, advanced technology and complete functions, the Capital Museum, large and modern, makes its contribution to the titles such as “famous historical and cultural city,” “cultural center” and “international metropolis” of Beijing and ranks among the first class museums both at home and abroad.

About High Museum of Art

The High Museum of Art, founded in 1905 as the Atlanta Art Association, is the leading art museum in the southeastern United States. With more than 12,000 works of art in its permanent collection, the High Museum of Art has an extensive anthology of 19th- and 20th-century American and decorative art; significant holdings of European paintings; a growing collection of African American art; and burgeoning collections of modern and contemporary art, photography and African art. The High is also dedicated to supporting and collecting works by Southern artists and is distinguished as the only major museum in North America to have a curatorial department specifically devoted to the field of folk and self-taught art. The High’s media arts department produces acclaimed annual film series and festivals of foreign, independent and classic cinema. In November 2005 the High opened three new buildings by architect Renzo Piano that more than doubled the Museum’s size, creating a vibrant “village for the arts” at the Woodruff Arts Center in midtown Atlanta. For more information about the High, please visit