John Wieland

(b. 1936)

Wieland practically invented McMansionized suburbia in the Southeast. His namesake company can lay claim to nearly 30,000 houses with such swanky perks as granite countertops. Everything from the square footage to the margins kept getting bigger, until the real estate bubble burst in 2007. At his peak in 2005, Wieland sold more than 1,700 units for an average of $448,000 per house. In 2010 his company disposed of only 435 lots. And last year, for the first time in its history, Wieland’s Smyrna-based company built more houses in other cities than in its own metro area.

Artistic Aspirations The longtime collector owns works by contemporary artists such as Roy Lichtenstein; gave the High its largest individual gift ever (that’d be $12 million, which got his and his wife’s names on the main pavilion of the two galleries that opened in 2005); and tried to open his own Midtown contemporary art gallery in the aughts, in his now permanently suspended $350 million One Museum Place condominium project across the street from the Woodruff Arts Center.

PR Nightmare A race-discrimination lawsuit that settled last year for $378,500 alleged that the developer assigned black sales agents to lower-priced subdivisions.

Photograph courtesy of John Wieland Homes