John Portman isn’t one to rest on his laurels. 

The 84-year-old architect and developer’s work has been transforming skylines for more than half a century, but he still says he’s “too young” and too forward-focused to sit back and daydream about the good old days.

But a new exhibition at the High Museum of Art, in the works for more than two years, has forced Mr. Portman to let off the throttle and reflect on just how profound his impact has been in Atlanta and around the world.

“John Portman: Art and Architecture” devotes 10,000 square feet to the man High Museum director Michael Shapiro calls a “giant in our midst.” Split into two floors outlining domestic and international work, the exhibition uses scaled models, photographs and renderings to delve into Mr. Portman’s sometimes-controversial architectural designs while giving substantial treatment to his hundreds of sculptures, paintings and drawings.

GlobalAtlanta spoke with Mr. Portman at the High about his legacy and future ambitions. In the wide-ranging video interview, Mr. Portman covers the challenges of being both architect and developer and how he balances grounded pragmatism with soaring vision. He also discusses his inspiration for a 151-story tower he designed as the iconic structure in Incheon, South Korea. Click on video links above to watch.

As managing editor of Global Atlanta, Trevor has spent 15+ years reporting on Atlanta’s ties with the world. An avid traveler, he has undertaken trips to 30+ countries to uncover stories on the perils...