"I've done a lot of things in life because I simply didn't know I couldn't."
Georgia Tech, his alma mater, presented him their highest honor, the Exceptional Achievement Award in 1986; awarded him with an honorary PhD in 2012; and, in 2014, named the endowment of the chair for the Dean of the College of Architecture "The John Portman Dean’s Chair" in his honor. The Graduate School of Design at Harvard University also has a chair named in his honor. The John Portman Visiting Chair in Architecture creates a special opportunity for the GSD to bring internationally recognized designers to their campus in a sustained role. Portman was also honored with honorary PhD’s by Georgia State University, Atlanta College of Arts, Shenyang Architecture and Civil Engineering Institute, and Emory University.
Portman’s numerous architectural awards included the AIA Medal from the National American Institute of Architects in 1978 for innovations in hotel design, and the Silver Medal Award in 1981 from the Atlanta Chapter of AIA for innovative design. He was a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects and a member of the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards. He was recognized for "extraordinary contributions to the advancement of tall buildings and the urban environment" with a lifetime achievement award from the Council of Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat.
Asked once how he was able to accomplish so much, John Portman replied, "I've done a lot of things in life because I simply didn't know I couldn't."
In 1990, he received the Horatio Alger Award from the Horatio Alger Association in recognition of his rise from humble beginnings. In a "full-circle moment," the 2013 Four Pillar Award from Atlanta’s Council for Quality Growth saw him honored in a tribute held in his own Hyatt Regency Atlanta on that hill on Peachtree Street where his entrepreneurial spirit first ignited so many years before.
Atlanta lost one of her greatest champions with the passing of John C. Portman, Jr. on Dec 29, 2017. Mr. Portman was 93 at his passing and his legacy businesses carry on.