theGrio’s 100: Oscar L. Harris, transforming the urban fabric of Atlanta

(Courtesy of Oscar L. Harris)

(Courtesy of Oscar L. Harris)

Who is Oscar L. Harris?

Oscar L. Harris is one of the most influential businessmen and prominent architects in the Southern United States. Having founded Turner Associates Architects and Planners, Inc. more than 30 years ago, Harris has been able to grow a business based on the mantra of bringing cost-effective architectural solutions to clients and the community.

Turner Associates has since become one of Atlanta’s leading architectural and planning firms. The Carnegie-Mellon alumnus is credited with “transforming the urban fabric of Atlanta” with his innovative and expansive work which includes the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta international airport expansion and the legendary Centennial Olympic Park. Harris also serves as a Trustee of Carnegie Mellon University and Urban Land Institute.

“As professionals, we have the obligation to not only design and create wonderful buildings, but to serve the community. My goal while leading Turner Associates Architects and Planners was to also serve the community,” he says in his mission statement.

Why is he on theGrio’s 100?

Harris not only prides himself on establishing one of the most successful architectural businesses of the south, but he also is heavily involved in mentoring urban youth. He started a student mentorship program geared towards exposing  youth to the architecture field. Through this after-school program, children have the opportunity to build models, to work with computer graphics and to shadow meetings with the company’s clients.

“I have worked to be transformative and have increased interest in the field of architecture for young people that would have never been introduced to the profession otherwise,” Harris says. “And even for those that choose not to pursue architecture, their options have also been expanded because they just know that more is out there.”

What’s next for Harris?

Harris continues to run his architecture firm, seeking new projects within the transportation industry while also mentoring at-risk youth in the community.