2014 Portman Prize Awarded at Georgia Tech

The 2014 Portman Prize, established by John Portman & Associates (PORTMAN), has been awarded to Phebe Tam, a student in the Master of Architecture program at the Georgia Institute of Technology’s (Georgia Tech) School of Architecture.

Ms. Tam was awarded top honors for her design, “Castleberry Hill School of the Arts” that puts emphasis on the quality of the learning/teaching environment by means of daylighting, ventilation, acoustics, and thermal comfort. “I believe in the power of space,” said Ms. Tam. “My project is dedicated to simple geometry with great spatial experience; it is about light and transparency.” Ms. Tam was born in Texas, raised in Hong Kong, and attended Baylor and Texas A&M prior to enrolling in Georgia Tech’s M. Arch Program.

PORTMAN established this award in the year 2000 with the intention of encouraging graduate students to develop a holistic design approach that ties the big idea to the small detail. This year students were tasked with creating a design for a highly intelligent “house of learning.”

As the first place winner, Ms. Tam received a cash prize and a paid summer internship with PORTMAN. The second place winner, Mario Rodas, and third place winner, Melissa Doss, were also awarded cash prices for their outstanding design work, as were five Honorable Mentions.

“From its inception, the Portman prize has been about providing a link between the profession and the student,” said Gordon Beckman, principal and design director at PORTMAN. “It has accomplished this and more; it benefits the profession by encouraging students’ creativity and thought on a higher level.”

The Portman Prize is an annual competition within Georgia Tech’s School of Architecture that brings some of the most distinguished architects from across the country to serve as jurors. This year Architect Laurie Hawkinson of the NYC firm of Smith-Miller + Hawkinson Architects served as the visiting critic; and from PORTMAN, Principal Gordon Beckman, AIA presented the award and Rob Halverson, AIA, NCARB, Senior Project Manager, sat on the jury.

“We are grateful to John Portman & Associates for its sustained support of this visiting critic and design competition program,” says George Johnston, chair of the School of Architecture at Georgia Tech. “The convergence of PORTMAN’s and the School’s shared interest in advancing design quality by highlighting the art of architecture benefits the students, the profession and the community at large.”

“The Portman Prize gives students an opportunity to gain significant recognition for their creative talents. It is our hope that this quest for recognition serves as an elixir or a catalyst for more inspired vision to achieve, excel and accomplish throughout their careers,” said John C. (Jack) Portman, III, vice-chairman of Portman Holdings and John Portman & Associates. “We are proud that through our continued relationship with Georgia Tech, PORTMAN is challenging future architects to think beyond their classroom and form their own visions for design.”

In March 2014, Georgia Tech created the John Portman Dean’s Chair – a move that recognizes one of the most prestigious levels of academic leadership and drives the College upward. The John Portman Dean’s Chair greatly enhances the College’s ability to attract and retain the very best academic leaders and provides the resources to meet pressing needs within the College and take advantage of emerging opportunities.

For over a decade, Georgia Tech and PORTMAN have partnered to advance the values of vision, creativity, and an entrepreneurial spirit, which are the fundamentals of PORTMAN’s human-centered design philosophy through the Portman Prize.

About John Portman & Associates

John Portman & Associates, Inc. (PORTMAN) is an internationally recognized architectural and engineering firm with offices in Atlanta, Georgia and Shanghai, China. Established in 1953, Portman has over 60 years of expertise in designing hotels, universities, offices, trade marts, and mixed-use urban complexes. With a diverse team of experienced professionals, the firm provides design services in architecture, master planning, programming, structural engineering, and project management around the world. John Portman & Associates designs landmark projects that enhance the environment for those who use them, while being a sound investment for those who own and operate them. For more information, please visit www.portmanusa.com.

About the School of Architecture at Georgia Tech

Georgia Tech has a proud heritage in architectural education, closely linking applied technology and fine arts since 1908. Today, the School of Architecture is a leading producer of new knowledge in architectural design and houses advanced research, studio and lab facilities. Its 30 full-time faculty and approximately 475 graduate and undergraduate students exploit the creative tensions between research and design to drive innovation in the field of architecture. Visit www.arch.gatech.edu for more information.

[Pictured L-R: Gordon Beckman, Melissa Doss, Mario Rodas & Phebe Tam]