Josh Williams ’18 was born—and almost died—in Piedmont Atlanta Hospital. He just returned to help build its newest addition.

Josh Williams in front of Piedmont Hospital

It’s a story that never gets old, even as he does.

Joshua Williams’ near-death experience before he was born. A month in the NICU of Piedmont Atlanta Hospital, fighting for survival, before finally entering the outside world a healthy, growing boy in 1996. That’s how the story ended for two decades, right until Williams returned to Piedmont as a project manager with Meadows & Ohly and helped build its newly opened Marcus Tower.

It’s surreal to give back to the place that gave him life. “That’s home for me,” Williams said of Piedmont. “My mom used to work for Piedmont and I have other family in Atlanta who work at Piedmont. Even the floor I helped build at Marcus Tower is for the department a [friend] works in. It all comes back to that human-centric connection—that is the most fulfilling part to me. Being able to do that at home, there’s no better feeling.”

During the construction of Marcus Tower in 2020, the whole world stopped as the coronavirus spread, and the importance of hospitals grew by the minute. Sure, Meadows & Ohly—and by extension, Williams—had a duty to help build this new, hi-tech extension of a hospital that had nearly 267,000 patient cases in 2021. But suddenly their work took on global significance, he says. Whether directly or indirectly, they were helping to save lives.

“I feel responsible and obligated to do my part to make sure I can help these doctors. Being in this position to directly effect change in the world, there is no kind of tangible award or feeling that I could get from doing anything else.”

Williams left Auburn’s architecture program after his sophomore year for environmental design, a switch he credits with informing his sense of human-centric construction. Adding a master’s in building construction as well, he tries to approach projects as if he were a patient. Everything, from how the beds are situated, to the minute detail of how lighting can assist stroke patients’ healing process, are things his team considers for every new facility.

“We do it for that first patient,” said Williams. “We are trying to do whatever we can to make sure they get the most efficient care and services to help save lives.”

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