I remember when the Marriott Marquis was still shiny and new, back in the 1980s. Somewhere in my stack of sketchbooks I have a little student study I made of the hotel while I was in the architecture program at Tech. In that write-up I compared the elevator cabs to blood cells pulsing through heart of the hotel, mostly because back then the elevators were painted bright red! Somewhere along the line an interiors person must have been paid good money to come in and inform hotel management that rocketship red was insufferably outdated, because today’s rides are industrial ecru.

Earlier this year the Atlanta Marriott Marquis dropped $200 million on much needed renovations and while a good deal of those renovations were spent updating rooms and conference spaces, the most visible change was the removal of the classic carpet pattern ‘Bossa Nova ‘85’, a design intrepidly protected by Couristan, Inc. Since I have not been able to find the manufacturer of the cheap replacement pattern now occupying the lobby of the Marquis I have been forced to create my own name for the pattern: Skidmark.

Skidmark was the only logical replacement for Bossa Nova ’85 for the sort of middling designers whose métier is neutering garish red elevators into banality. These marvelous plimptons have a design vision that I can only guess at, because I would have never thought to inflict rigid, earth-neutral stripes on a space that reflects that twisting ribcage of living grace soaring 52 stories overhead.

Soil and stain resistance must certainly not have been of concern to the design team as they flapped their sample of Skidmark onto the table in front of hotel management during their design meetings, because as I walked through the Marriot Marquis last night I witnessed stain after stain after stain – the lobby no longer makes me want to linger and take in the splendor, it feels grubby and rushed, as if it wants me to follow one of those greasy stripes right out of the building.

“GET OUT!” it screams.

I wonder what this gifted design team will do next to the Marquis?

I’ll bet the last thing they’ll do is restore the building to its original festive glory, replete with red elevators and Bossa Nova ’85.


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