Basic Info

Name:
Phil Harrison
Contributor Status:
Native AdVice
Initial Contribution Date:
10/23/2014
Primary Location:
Atlanta, GA, USA

Career Info

Primary Industry:
Architecture / Interior Design / Decorating
Personal Career Headline:
President/CEO of Perkins+WIll
Business Description (One-Liner):

Architecture and design firmÿ

Experience Timeline:
31-40 years of work experience

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Career Snapshot:

As President and Chief Executive Officer, Phil is responsible for Perkins+Will’s strategic focus and business performance. He is directly involved with quality initiatives including design excellence, sustainability, research and technical delivery; he oversees firm growth, diversification and development; and he defines the firm’s business objectives for performance, collaborative operations and staff development.

In 1993 Phil joined the firm as an architect and has worked on an array of projects with Education, Science, Healthcare and Corporate clients. He has served in a variety of firm leadership roles, eventually becoming Chief Executive Officer in 2006.

Phil holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Visual Arts and Philosophy from Harvard College and a Master of Architecture from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design, where he received the AIA School Medal. He is a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects and a LEED Accredited Professional.

Phil is passionately involved with a number of arts, design, professional, civic and educational institutions. He is a Board Member of the National Building Museum, the Museum of Design Atlanta and the Woodruff Arts Center; he serves on the Executive Committee for the AIA Large Firm Roundtable, is a Senior Fellow of the Design Futures Council, and a member of the Construction Industry Roundtable; he is a member of the Downtown Atlanta Rotary Club; and he is the Co-Chair of the Campaign for the Harvard Graduate School of Design.

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How did you get into the industry?:

I studied visual arts in college and was working and teaching painting when I decided to return to graduate school. I decided on an architecture degree not because I wanted to practice, but because I was interested in the diversity of architectural education: creativity, technology, culture, and business. Out of design school I took my first full time job, again with the intent of trying out a variety of areas. However, my first job went surprisingly well, and I eventually ended up leading our firm after 13 years!

Emerging industry trends?:

Collaboration has been at the core of our practice since our founding. Our first seminal project, Crow Island School, was designed in collaboration with Saarinen. Today, we collaborate with virtually every entity that his connected to the design and construction industry, including: design schools, organizations such as USGBC or the Living Futures Institute, builders, engineers, and, of course, our clients.

Inspiration for the business idea, and your vision for the Business?:

Perkins+Will is an 80 year old design firm that was founded on the belief that buildings can shape people’s lives in positive ways, and we still practice with this belief today. We are a research-driven practice; we constantly try to imagine better ways to solve our clients’ challenges. We are also a socially-motivated practice, as we see our work in service of all society, not only the particular occupants or owners of our projects.

What's next for the Business in the near future?:

Growth, deepening our research initiatives, and extending our geographic reach.

Your key initiatives for the success of the Business? Greatest Accomplishment?:

Collaboration has been at the core of our practice since our founding. Our first seminal project, Crow Island School, was designed in collaboration with Saarinen. Today, we collaborate with virtually every entity that his connected to the design and construction industry, including: design schools, organizations such as USGBC or the Living Futures Institute, builders, engineers, and, of course, our clients.

Your most difficult moment at the Business? (and what did you learn?):

Greatest success and greatest challenge are the same: maintaining and increasing industry-leading design quality in a large and diversified organization.

Career advice to those in your industry?:

Focus on purpose. Ask “why” to yourself and your organization, and lead with these ideas in mind at all times.

What Else To Know

Tell Us More:

Most interesting headline read this week:

“Ebola now with airborne transmission” (of course, this was not true, but it got my attention!).

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