Friday, June 26, 2015, by Michael Kahn


[Atlanta from downtown to Midtown from Stone Mountain. Photo: Greg Foster]

Gregory Walker (applicable acronyms: LEED AP, AIA, NCARB) isn’t just any old Atlanta architect with an abundance of letters after his name. He’s a Founding Partner at Houser Walker Architecture and also the current President of AIA Georgia. Educated at Auburn and Harvarduniversities, Walker has been an architect since 1993 and an Atlanta resident since 1998. With Atlanta in gangbusters growth mode, we asked Walker a few questions about: the city’s architecture as it stands today; where he sees trends headed in the future; and if we should be worried that Atlanta will one day be a bland mass of concrete and glass. He was kind enough to provide his thoughts, after the jump.

Curbed Atlanta: Often, Atlantans get bogged down in what is perceived as the banality of architecture in our city. How, as an architect, would you describe Atlanta’s architecture?

Gregory Walker: Atlanta is an interesting paradox — although it has asmall historic core and more historic city plan, it’s largely a relatively “new” city in terms of its buildings. And, like most “new” cities, the overall quality of the architecture is fairly banal. Banal can be good sometimes, but with Atlanta… not so much.
CA: Despite the banal, there are some pretty phenomenal buildings. What are your favorite buildings in the city?

GW: Among my favorites (that are still standing): the High’s top floor gallery, the Westin’s place in the skyline, and Ansley Park as a whole.
CA: John Portman (helped, of course, by his development company) reshaped a large portion of downtown over the course of more than three decades and is arguably the most prolific and influential architect to have put his mark on the city. Are there any local architects today who could match the driving force Portman was for Atlanta, or is Atlanta now simply too big to be a one-architect town?

GW: No, I don’t see any one firm following on in the footsteps ofPortman. And that’s great. Thankfully, Atlanta is much too large for any one architect or developer to exert too much influence over the whole of its design and development. Genuine diversity of expression is essential to all great cities. The more an urban environment is tied to a single idea or influence, the worse the experience…….