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Cooper Carry Co-Founder Walter Carry Dies At Age 88

Atlanta

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In the 1990s, Walter Carry saw a change taking shape in commercial real estate. Developers were beginning to mix up the uses in single properties, office with retail sometimes or retail and apartments.

Instead of waiting to see if this mixed-use trend was a passing fad, Carry restructured his firm to reflect this trend, creating specific groups within the firm to focus on particular types of development and hiring young partners to steer the ship.

Cooper Carry co-founder
Cooper Carry co-founder Walter Carry

Carry, 88 — who oversaw the design of more than 200 projects in his 30-plus-year career — died in Atlanta this month. His foresight allowed Cooper Carry to continue to thrive in the 21st century, firm partner Pope Bullock said.

“We had a dream to create a firm that would connect ideas and people to the places where they live, work and learn," Cooper Carry co-founder Jerry Cooper said in a release. "Cooper Carry is the culmination of that dream, which would never have happened without Walter’s unconquerable drive."

Shifting the company to a mixed-use bent, as well as bringing in and making young talent partners was a big idea, Bullock said. In fact, Carry named Bullock a partner when the young architect was 34 years old.

“That was a pretty bold decision back then,” he said. “That's our core strength today.”

Carry and Cooper co-founded the firm in 1960. Carry had his hands in all types of developments, from office buildings and hotels to retail projects all over Atlanta's growing landscape in the 20th century.

“Walter’s influence on our profession cannot be overstated, and his legacy lives on as Cooper Carry continues to build on the foundation that he and Jerry started six decades ago,” Cooper Carry CEO Kevin Cantley said in a release.

Among the projects Carry was involved with were the Piedmont Center office campus in Buckhead, the 1980s redevelopment of Underground Atlanta and AT&T's Atlanta data complex.

“Walter was a businessman as well as an architect,” Bullock said. "He offered owners an approach to looking at their asset and how it could be enhanced."

Carry held many distinctive industry positions and awards during his career, including serving as past president of the American institute of Architects Atlanta chapter and the Georgia State Board of Architects & Interior Designers. He won AIA's Presidential Citation in 1989. This year, AIA Georgia named Cooper Carry the architecture firm of the year.

But Bullock said one of Carry's greatest contributions to the architectural industry came in 1988, when he was serving as board chair of the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards. During his tenure, he assisted in preserving the universal testing among architectural professionals, which allows them to work in all 50 states and many international countries without having to get a license in each.

Carry also was among the first to focus on the spaces between buildings as key to development projects as well, not just throwaway places, Bullock said. That trend is in the forefront today as developers pump millions of dollars per project into public spaces.

Bullock said that was evidence that Carry was always searching for the next trend in architecture and development to keep Cooper Carry viable.

“If he were still alive, he would be provoking me today about what was the next thing,” he said. "Walter, he had visions."