Benjamin Harrison (Harry) West, 1941 - 2014

Harry West, 72: Regional planner, professor

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Benjamin Harrison (Harry) West, 1941 - 2014

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Catherine Ross last saw Harry West hard at work two weeks ago.

Ross, Georgia Tech’s director of the Center for Quality Growth and Regional Development, said West, a former longtime Atlanta Regional Commission executive director and now Tech professor, was determined to continue “moving mountains and regions” when it came to regional planning despite battling an illness.

“He just had a work ethic that was not comparable to any that I’ve ever observed,” said Ross, who called West a mentor, friend and sometime therapist.

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  • Harry West Harry West
    (image/jpeg)

By Christopher Seward

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Catherine Ross last saw Harry West hard at work two weeks ago.

Ross, Georgia Tech’s director of the Center for Quality Growth and Regional Development, said West, a former longtime Atlanta Regional Commission executive director and now Tech professor, was determined to continue “moving mountains and regions” when it came to regional planning despite battling an illness.

“He just had a work ethic that was not comparable to any that I’ve ever observed,” said Ross, who called West a mentor, friend and sometime therapist.

Benjamin Harrison West, who served as ARC executive for 27 years before stepping down in 2000 and who was a Tech professor of the practice of quality growth and regional development, died Monday at Emory University Hospital from a serious lung infection, the ARC announced Tuesday. He was 72.

The visitation will be Wednesday from 6 to 8 p.m. at H.M. Patterson & Son-Oglethorpe Hill Chapel at 4550 Peachtree Road NE. A service will be held at the same location Thursday at 11 a.m.

The ARC credited West with a wide range of initiatives to encourage regional approaches to addressing some of metro Atlanta’s biggest economic challenges, whether growth, transportation or adequate water resources.

“He developed programs and created a sense of regional connectedness, which still reverberate positively today,” said Doug Hooker, current ARC executive director. “More importantly, he had a vision, a dedication and a high set of standards, which will continue to propel metro Atlanta far into the future.”

West founded the Regional Leadership Institute in 1991 to train local leaders on regional issues and hosted annual visits through the ARC’s Leadership, Involvement, Knowledge and Networking, or LINK, program, which allowed leaders to see how other cities were dealing with urban issues.

West, who served as ARC executive director from 1973 to 2000, instituted reviews of commercial and residential development proposals to determine their regional impact before projects got under way.

West joined Tech in the 2007-2008 academic year, continued to push for regional solutions to transportation and education issues, said Ross, who is also Tech’s Harry West professor of city and regional planning, a chair funded by Post Properties founder John Williams.

Former Atlanta Mayor Sam Massell called West, a Harvard University and University of Georgia graduate, a role model for aspiring governmental leaders.

“There just isn’t a better example of the integrity and knowledge we should want in our leaders,” said Massell, now president of the Buckhead Coalition.

West is survived by his wife, Jane, a son, Jeff West of Atlanta, and daughter Susan Johnson of Atlanta, and two grandchildren.

 

Additional links:

In 2008, Mr. West was interviewed by Dan Reuter of the Atlanta Regional Commission as part of the Georgia Planning Association's History of GPA video series. That interview is available online at this link.

Read more about Mr. West on the City and Regional Planning webpage by clicking here.

 

ULI Atlanta Awards for Excellence Dinner

Harry West will be posthumously honored with the Dan and Tally Sweat Community Award at the Urban Land Institute Atlanta Awards for Excellence Dinner, celebrating 20 years of excellence.

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CQGRD - Center for Quality Growth and Regional Development

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  • Created By: Angelika Braig
  • Workflow Status: Published
  • Created On: Jul 16, 2014 - 8:18am
  • Last Updated: Oct 7, 2016 - 11:16pm