Lasting Legacy

Dedicating decades to upholding classical design sensibilities and mentorship of the next generation, Jim Strickland of Historical Concepts receives the ICAA’s 2023 Lifetime Achievement Award

Recognized for his architectural excellence with a keen eye for historic precedent, Jim Strickland—founder of award-winning architecture firm Historical Concepts and the 2023 recipient of the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art’s (ICAA) Lifetime Achievement Award—is a household name in Atlanta and beyond. And with more than 40 years in the industry, Strickland’s influence largely set the standard for tailored, traditional homes that stand the test of time.

A Yale alumnus, Strickland has a storied career, from his start in real estate development in Florida to the publishing of his Savannah Tidewater Series, a collection of plans created as an ode to the historic homes that influenced his passion for buildings with permanence. With the launch of his firm in 1982, Strickland’s work cast a spotlight back on livable Southern elegance. Today, Historical Concepts is coveted for designing character-rich homes and communities that span far past Georgia.

And while it’s easy to list Strickland’s many accolades, what holds most impressive is his sharp, tenacious spirit and his unwavering commitment to gracious Southern design. “Jim is just a font of knowledge,” says Don Hooten of Hooten Land Design, who has worked with Strickland for almost the entirety of his career. “He’s an absolute talent and a purveyor for classic design. And when you look at the people who work with him and how long they’ve been around, it’s a testament to his unparalleled enthusiasm and care for others.”

A team-centered mindset is the common denominator in Strickland’s work, often spending more time crediting those who have helped him along the way than speaking of his own accomplishments. For example, the countless professors who contributed to his winding journey through school at the University of Georgia and Yale University—including Professor Ronald Arnholm, Strickland’s graphic design professor, who encouraged him to apply to Yale and thus began the domino effect of his achievements. Of course, there are his Historical Concepts colleagues—referencing everyone from the earliest team members to the current interns—who lift the firm to new heights, and other industry professionals that have given him a new perspective on design.

But perhaps most important, notes Strickland, is his wife, Linda. From helping him get through school, to mapping out business ventures on their kitchen floor, drawing his early developments and more, Linda is a major player in Strickland’s success. “As you go through life, there are certain folks who are really influential that aren’t necessarily mentors, but still influence your path,” says Strickland. “All of my professors and countless colleagues throughout my life are my influencers, but my true mentor has always been my wife. She’s my secret weapon.”

And should anyone be fortunate enough to sit down with Strickland, it’s likely he’ll reference the children’s book The King with Six Friends. Following the story of a lonesome king that won his kingdom thanks to the combined skills of himself and the friends who joined his journey, this story paints a picture of what life and career moments brought Strickland to win this prestigious award—with the nucleus being the people who walked beside him along the way.

“In truth, this award—which I’m so flattered by—is not just about my achievement, but the achievement of many people,” says Strickland. “The little king couldn’t have created a better story.”