Council’s May ELI Reception Gives Members Inside View and Perspective into John Portman Design Studio

On May 23, the Council hosted an Emerging Leaders Initiative reception at the John Portman & Associates Design Studio. During the reception, Partner and Design Director of John Portman & Associates, Gordon Beckman, presented several of the firm’s completed and prospective design projects in the United States and China.

Beckman emphasized the importance of vision, wherewithal, and heart when approaching both design and development projects. Each project can be thought of as an opportunity to change and transform an area.

The projects envisioned and executed by John Portman & Associates are not solely focused on the building design, Beckman explained; the building’s context must be taken into account. For example, questioning how a certain building design will fit into the current environment, how people will interact with the space inside and around the building, how it connects with transportation, and what value it will add to a space are all key elements of the project’s design and implementation process.

Beckman touched upon the important relationship between the architecture and business world. In his words, “as architects, we have an impact on the physical environment, but our relationships with developers and tenants are also essential.” The physical, social, and economic changes initiated by a design project or economic development initiative come together to impact how people use a space and how a space is activated by businesses.

A project that is in progress in the heart of Atlanta is the new Coda building in Georgia Tech’s Technology Square. John Portman & Associates is designing 750,000 square foot mixed-use facility featuring collaborative work spaces, a high-performance computing center, retail, and office space. The project is anticipated to have an economic impact of $813.8 million and create 2,400 jobs onsite after completion. Beckman noted that this project was particularly special because of the way the building will promote interaction between Georgia Tech and other industries.

Looking ahead, Beckman anticipates that reducing automobile dependence will become an increasingly important issue. The challenge of reducing dependence and increasing alternative transportation options will be coupled with the opportunity of utilizing street space in a more valuable way.


The Council would like to thank John Portman & Associates for hosting this exciting and informative event, and Gordon Beckman for presenting. Thank you also to John Nipaver, Principal and Production Designer, and Heath Hans, VP of Business Development and Marketing, for participating in the program and execution of a successful event.

ELI is open to any Council Member. To join ELI click HERE