George T. Heery – Encyclopedia of New Georgia
George T. Heery was a prominent figure in a family of Georgian architects. Heery’s father practiced in Athens for several decades beginning in the late 1920s, and two of his children also later entered the field, working alongside their father as co-founders of the Brookwood Group.
George Thomas Heery was born in Athens on June 18, 1927. His father, C. Wilmer Heery, graduated from the school of architecture at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta in 1926, with a class that also included Marshall Oliver Saggus, Marthame Sanders, and Sanford Ayers, all of whom went on to successful careers in architecture. Harold Bush-Brown, then in his second year at the head of architecture, was pursuing the Beaux-Arts course that Francis Palmer Smith had set up in 1909. Thus, Wilmer Heery was firmly rooted in the classical tradition, in the history as a source of principle and form, and in what defenders of the Beaux-Arts called the “art” of building. In the mid-1940s, George Heery followed in his father’s footsteps and became a student at Georgia Tech’s school of architecture.
However, Georgia Tech’s faculty after World War II (1941-1945) differed markedly from the faculty that had taught Wilmer Heery in the early 1920s. modern functionalist design, based on Bauhaus traditions. The faculty included Paul M. Heffernan, Julian Harris, Sam Hurst, and visiting design critics Cecil Alexander, Herb Millkey, H. Griffith Edwards, and Richard Pretz. The Bush-Brown, Gailey, and Heffernan firm, all of whose partners were seasoned professors as well as practicing architects, was designing pioneering functionalist college buildings for Georgia Tech at the time. Formed by this polyglot assemblage of instructors with a Beaux-Arts background and modernist leanings, Heery graduated in 1951 and remained at Georgia Tech the following year to teach.
Heery and Heery
After graduating, Heery offered to form a partnership with his father, with Wilmer continuing to practice in Athens and George running a new Atlanta office of Heery and Heery. Heery built himself a modern home (1951-52) in Atlanta, on property adjacent to Finch and Barnes’ Golfview Road cul-de-sac (1951-54), which was full of modern homes. In Atlanta, where residents of all social levels were still building houses in the traditional style, the house was a symbolic gesture by which Heery aligned himself with other emerging modernists, including Finch, Alexander, Barnes, and Rothschild of FABRAP; Stevens and Wilkinson; and John Portman. Thomas Ventulett, Jerome Cooper and Joe Amisano would soon join this first generation of modern architects in Georgia. These firms (especially Heery and Heery) in turn trained, mentored, and encouraged those who would train Georgia’s second generation of modern designers, including Mack Scogin, Merrill Elam, and Larry Lord.
In 1961, Heery began developing advanced project management procedures to control time and costs through pre-design, design and construction. His ideas immediately informed the successful accelerated design and construction of Atlanta Stadium (later Atlanta–Fulton County Stadium; 1963-65, razed 1997), a joint venture with FABRAP that served as the catalyst for the reputation of Heery as a sports facility specialist. . In 1975, Heery’s publication of Time, cost and architecture led many to conclude that Heery literally “wrote the book” on construction management. His ideas evolved to encompass real estate and “strategic facility planning” as well as “bridging”, a method designed to reduce post-construction risk, cost and hassle for homeowners. In the mid-1990s, Heery focused his methods on managing the development of colleges, universities, and nonprofit organizations.
Heery also continued to remodel and expand his architectural practice. In 1966 he formed Heery Associates to lead the management of the building program and around this time established Heery Interiors. In 1969, Heery Graphics emerged, and an early 1970s merger with the mechanical, electrical and structural engineering firm of JW Austin was followed, at the end of the decade, with the creation of Heery Energy Consultants. Civil engineering and landscape architecture were at the center of Heery Engineering and Land Planning, established in 1982. Heery’s interests were sold to a British group in 1986 and reorganized into Heery Architects and Engineers, Heery Engineering and Heery Program Management. Two years later, Heery left the organization and was replaced as managing director by James Moynihan. The company was later reorganized as Heery International and was involved in notable Atlanta projects such as Monarch Tower (1995-97), Turner Field (later Center Parc Stadium; 1996-97), and the Georgia Aquarium ( 2003-5).
In 1989 Heery, along with his daughter, Laura, and son, Shepherd, founded the Brookwood Group, a real estate development, planning and management consultancy.
Heery’s offices in the early years were housed in a black steel and glass Miesian office building that his company designed and built in 1971 at 880 West Peachtree Street. Early 1970s projects showed an interest in simple building materials, including Brutalist concrete bounded into carefully proportioned elevations at Stouffer’s Atlanta Inn (1969-72). The Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School (1969-73) in Atlanta was an early attempt at unstructured classrooms in the 1960s, but it was also an inward-facing building whose exterior featured a fortress at Brutal graffiti proof against the social unrest of the period. The Woodruff Health Sciences Center (1973-76) at Emory University, designed by Merrill Elam, reflected the Brutalist school’s materialistic interest in raw concrete, monumental scale, and an “as found” simplicity. The headquarters of Heery Architects and Engineers’ Georgia Power Company (1976-81) in Atlanta, for which Mack Scogin served as project architect, is a steel and black glass structure lining the freeway, its south side dramatically sliced with the angle of the sun in mind to maximize the energy benefits.
After collaborating with FABRAP on the Five Points MARTA station, Heery began to take on the lead design role for the Coca-Cola Company, whose earlier buildings FABRAP had built in three phases (1970, 1980, 1981) but whose Central Reception Building (1984 -86) and Coca-Cola USA Building (1987) are by Heery. He also collaborated with Rosser Fabrap International on the Georgia Dome (1989-92).
When 999 Peachtree at Peachtree Place was completed in 1987, Heery laid out his never-quite-quite classic view, using a travertine marble veneer for the twenty-eight-story skyscraper. The building is highlighted by a square and has a balanced and orderly facade with good proportions and a well-respected scale. Heery was also associated with the construction of Philip Johnson’s IBM Tower (or One Atlantic Center; 1985-87) in Midtown Atlanta. Institutional buildings of note are the Atlanta History Museum (1990-93) at the Atlanta History Center and the Dorothy Chapman Fuqua Conservatory at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens. Heery also built the Callaway Student Athletic Complex, named after Fuller E. Callaway III, at Georgia Tech (1975-77, with FABRAP) and the Student Recreation Center at Georgia State University (2001).
In the mid-1990s, after retiring from the Heery conglomerate, Heery developed the Wakefield, reviving his classic sensibility. The high quality and luxurious character of this high-rise apartment cooperative make it “a classic”, not only because of its inherent taste, refinement and elegance, but also because it served as a model and pioneer in Buckhead, that bastion of old Atlanta. -worldwide standards of style and beauty.
Heery was active with the Brookwood Group well into the 1980s and did not step down as chairman until 2013. He was a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects and a Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects.
Heery died in Atlanta, January 21, 2021, at the age of ninety-three.