O P I N I O N
The passing of a giant
“My good friend of more than 25 years, Jack Portman passed away suddenly on the morning of August 28.”
M y good friend of more than 25 years, John C. Portman, III – known by all as “Jack” Portman, chairman of Portman Architects – passed away suddenly on the morning of August 28. I just spoke to him a couple nights earlier and he was supposed to call me the day he died. He wasn’t sick. He was vital. He was nine years older and like a brother to me. We both went through a lot personally and professionally as individuals and together over the years.
Jack and I had a special relationship from the onset. I worked for his father, John C. Portman, Jr., who was one of – if not the world’s most financially successful architects. John Portman made his money, however, by combining his futuristic design abilities with his entrepreneurial skills as a developer and businessperson. He invented the atrium hotel and sold it to Hyatt. He created The Merchandise Mart in downtown Atlanta and started the redevelopment of the city that continues to this day. All told Portman designed and developed something like 28 medium- and high-rise buildings in downtown Atlanta alone over 50+ years.
also an architect, was instrumental to the success of Portman over the years. He was a talented designer in his own right. But besides the fact that he was just a great guy who could make anyone feel special, he got Portman the opportunity to do their very first project in mainland China – Shanghai Centre – also the first development project done by any American company on mainland Chinese soil. A Harvard GSD grad in 1973, Jack moved to Hong Kong in 1979 and later to Shanghai. He also spent a lot of time in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, South Korea, and India. The guy had a great sense of humor. One time
See MARK ZWEIG, page 10
But enough about John Portman. His son, Jack,
THE ZWEIG LETTER SEPTEMBER 21, 2020, ISSUE 1360
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