Inside the Transformation of Atlanta’s Abandoned Ponce City Market, Before and After Conversion

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For almost a century, one of the largest buildings in the Southeastern United States has maintained a dominating street presence in Atlanta, Georgia. Ponce City Market was originally built in 1925 as a Sears, Roebuck & Co. distribution and retail center which operated until 1989. In 1991, the City of Atlanta purchased the building and housed several public works departments and stored countless items amongst its 2.1 million square feet of space.

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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.

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In 2009, during the economic recession in America, Blake Burton was fresh out of architecture school and unable to land a job in that field. Burton was hired by the City of Atlanta’s asset management office, where his job was to help supervise the cleanup of the building that would become Ponce City Market. Immediately awed by the immense scale and detail of the largely empty edifice, Burton began taking photographs in an effort to preserve what he could, convinced that the building would be demolished.

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Upon learning that it would be completely renovated, he 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, the project allowed Burton to meld two of his passions, photography and architecture, resulting in a comprehensive record of the evolution of an architectural landmark.

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Below are additional photographs of the building before and under renovation:

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 Ponce City Market

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