After losing architect William H. Harrison of Harrison Design this past spring, we celebrate the incredible impact he had and still has on the Atlanta community, landscape and spirit.

Architect William “Bill” Harrison of Harrison Design, located in the Piedmont Center PHOTO COURTESY OF HARRISON DESIGN
Architect William “Bill” Harrison of Harrison Design, located in the Piedmont Center

“‘It has been said there are only two questions that can be asked of a man’s life. One: Were people happy that one lived? And two: Did one accomplish what one set out to accomplish?’” These are the words spoken by Brody Dernehl, who spoke at the late William Harrison’s funeral this past May. He went on, “Bill set out to leave the world in a better condition than when he came into it. He was a visionary from a young age, and there is no question in my mind he has changed the lives of countless people for the better and will continue to do so.”

William H. Harrison, or Bill, as he was known to the community, was a stronghold in the design industry, and we lost him this past May. Originally from Macon, Harrison graduated from Georgia Institute of Technology. He founded his eponymous firm in 1991 after successfully running a construction company for 12 years. The firm, Harrison Design, has now expanded to seven domestic offices and one international. Among many titles—including founding member of the Southeast Chapter of the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art— Harrison’s proudest were architect and mentor, investing his time and energy into the next generation through ICAA initiatives and more. Those who were close to Harrison knew how dedicated he was to his craft, like industry friend Tish Mills. “There is no one like Bill Harrison. When they made him, they broke the mold for sure,” she says. “Bill always made each person feel like they were the only client in the world. And then there were the stories. You may go into a meeting thinking it was about schematic design on a project, and the next thing you know, the conversation was on the Roman Empire or one of the most intricate gardens in Japan. Somehow the wildest story would relate and give the client a real vision of their home.”

Client-turned-close friend Jay Yadav notes how his impact is still felt. Harrison started as Yadav’s architect, imparting his “combination of curiosity, artistry and breadth of knowledge” into their home. “Our family is fortunate to live in the wonderful home he so thoughtfully created for us. Every day we are reminded of his genius and celebrate his memory.” Homes all over Atlanta have the same if not a similar story, encapsulating William “Bill” Harrison in our hearts, minds, memories and everyday lives.


“One my favorite quotes from Bill, which so embodied how he lived his life: ‘Let yourself be like a pebble tossed into the water; allow your actions to cause ripple effects in the world in which you live, and by using strength and determination, those ripples will keep impacting your world long after you are gone.’” –GREGORY PALMER, HARRISON DESIGN

“We miss Bill every day. Yes, as a colleague, but more as a friend. His sense of humor and that laugh are something I will never forget. At a client meeting where we were discussing adding a guest house to a property and how to connect or have a walkway between the two homes, Bill didn’t miss a beat and sketched a drawbridge and then went on to tell us all of the merits of a good drawbridge. He brought the room down. His impish laugh just added to the whole scene.” –TISH MILLS, TISH MILLS INTERIORS