We launched the Atlanta Magazine Groundbreaker Awards program in 2012 with the goal of honoring people and projects that make Atlanta a better place to live, emphasizing innovation and new ideas.
Buildings often take their shape from a city, but rare are those that shape cities themselves—especially in ever-pragmatic Atlanta. Here, game-changing structures have been relatively few. The Flatiron Building (1897), John Portman’s Hyatt Regency (1967), Richard Meier’s High Museum (1983), and Phil Freelon’s National Center for Civil and Human Rights (2014) come to mind. We still mourn Santiago Calatrava’s 2005 design for the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, another casualty of the recession. But in the metro area, cranes rise again like our city symbol, the phoenix. This year’s crop of grand plans was especially inspiring, so we dedicated our sixth annual Groundbreakers Awards to visionaries—developers, architects, builders—who are molding our city for a new generation. —Betsy Riley