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Georgia Tech College of Design

Formerly known as the College of Architecture


Architect John Portman honored with Council for Quality Growth's Four Pillars Award

Lisa Herrmann
Atlanta, GA

Alumnus John Portman, one of the world's preeminant architects, was recently honored with a Four Pillar Award, given annually by the Council for Quality Growth to an honoree who has made significant contributions, both personally and professionally, to the metro Atlanta community. To honor Portman, the Council for Quality Growth put together a video news release from the Four Pillar event:

Portman is often credited with creating the Atlanta skyline, and he continues today to be an active member of the community and role model to students in the College of Architecture. In 2012 he was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Philosophy by Georgia Tech, an accolade only a handful of individuals have achieved. He was also awarded the Schutze Medal, the College of Architecture's highest honor, in 2012.

Portman received his architecture degree in 1950, and then served a three-year apprenticeship with Stevens & Wilkinson in Atlanta. In 1953, he established his own two-person firm in downtown Atlanta, which merged three years later with the well-established practice of the late H. Griffith Edwards (also a Georgia Tech alumnus), who was a former professor of his at Georgia Tech. The firm was Edwards and Portman until Edwards’ retirement in 1968, at which time the firm became John Portman & Associates.

 In 1966 he challenged traditional hotel design with the invention of an “open atrium” which transformed the industry and became the Portman signature in the design of the Westin, Marriott Marquis and Hyatt Regency hotels.  Portman continued to challenge urban design norms and created urban promenades in downtown Atlanta simultaneously revitalizing the city’s downtown while creating pedestrian circulation and interaction above the streets.  

 Today, John Portman & Associates is a major international architecture and engineering firm with offices in Atlanta and Shanghai. Portman’s Shanghai office, John Portman & Associates International, was established in 1993 and was one of the first foreign architectural firms to work in China. 

 His buildings in Atlanta include: the Westin, Marriott Marquis, and Hyatt Regency hotels; One Peachtree Center; Merchandise Mart, Gift Mart, and Apparel Mart; Decorative Arts Center; Inforum; Woodruff Physical Education Center and Dobbs Student Center at Emory University; and the Dana Fine Arts Building at Agnes Scott College. He designed his home in Atlanta Entelechy, and later the wonderful Entelechy II, on Sea Island.

 He has extensive projects across the world including the Embarcadero Center in San Francisco; Pavilion Hotel and Marina Square in Singapore; and the Shanghai Centre in China.

About the Council for Quality Growth

The Council for Quality Growth is a not-for-profit trade organization promoting balanced and responsible growth in the metro Atlanta region and state by:

  • Promoting long range planning and adequate delivery of government services
  • Serving as a catalyst for consensus on growth issues
  • Providing a forum for discussion of responsible development, and economic or technical expertise as needed.

Since its inception in 1985, the Council has worked as the development industry’s voice, a clearinghouse for critical information on growth and development policy and a forum for education.  The Council advocates  for its members to ensure that governmental development policy is fair and conducive to balanced and responsible growth.   Through constructive leadership and active participation in resolving growth issues based on real-world experience, the Council is a knowledgeable and informed advocate for you.

The Council’s work on behalf of its members has a direct and profitable result on their bottom line.  Impact fees, development moratoriums, unrealistic code amendments—it only takes one new regulatory layer and your project becomes unfeasible.  The rate of return on your membership investment will prove to be immeasurable as our policy team affects positive change in the political and regulatory web you face daily.


John Portman, who was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Philosophy by Georgia Tech in December, 2012, was recently honored with the Council for Quality Growth's presitigious Four Pillars Award.



Lisa Herrmann

Director of Communications