Oscar L. Harris: Renowned architect pens memoirs of his extraordinary journey to the top

theGRIO REPORT - Well-heeled Atlantans turned out in full force Thursday for the launch party of Oscar Harris' newly published memories...

Luther Vandross was outed as gay after his death.

ATLANTA – Well-heeled Atlantans turned out in full force Thursday for the launch party of Oscar Harris‘ newly published memories.

The internationally renowned architect, who has been credited for shaping the skyline of Atlanta, officially launched Oscar: The Memoir of a Master Architect at downtown White Oak Kitchen and Cocktails.

The book is a no-holds-barred account of what it took for an African-American to forge a successful career in one the most exclusive professions, which even today still remains overwhelmingly dominated by white males.

Aside from frantically signing copies of his memoirs for throngs of invited guests, Harris, 69, took time to catch up with theGrio to talk about why he decided to write about his extraordinary accomplishments.

In a nutshell, the trailblazing architect says he wants to give readers behind-the-scenes candor about what it took to get to the top at a time when few, particularly African-Americans, achieved success in such a competitive industry.

“I have chosen a career path that few people have traveled,” he says. “I wanted to give back to the community historical information and be informative for the next generation.”

Though he says he is fully aware of the dearth of black American architects, he hopes aspiring architects and readers alike “will be inspired to follow their dreams, have the confidence to do their own thing and put in the work to be successful.”

Harris founded Turner Associates in 1977 and it went from nothing to perhaps one of the most successful and diverse portfolio architectural firms in the States. Some of his works include Centennial Olympic Park, Atlanta’s metro stations and Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, to name just a few.

Some thirty-odd years after honing his craft, Harris also finds time to mentor urban youth and expose them to the design and architecture industry.

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