Bankoff, 60, is senior partner at King and Spalding and a long-time arts and civic leader. He succeeds Shelton Stanfill, who retires in June; Bankoff's appointment begins in September.
Robert Spano, music director of the ASO, said: "Joe is brilliant at convening people and synthesizing various ideas to create common ground and new insights. He understands the role of an institution like Woodruff as a catalyst for artistic endeavors."
As a young lawyer, Bankoff worked to raise funds for Atlanta Arts Alliance and the 1983 expansion of the High Museum. He joined the ASO board in 1996, after arranging for the orchestra to perform at the Olympics. He also led the search that attracted Robert Spano and Donald Runnicles to the ASO.
"The arts have been important to me all my life," said Bankoff, who participated in music and theater as a youth and has been a volunteer arts leader in Atlanta for over a decade. "I've been fortunate as a lawyer in Atlanta to have the opportunity to work with very talented people on projects that have been important to the community. Now I have the opportunity to take my passion for the arts and make it my full-time work."
According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the ASO has raised about $100 million of the approximately $300 million needed to build the new concert hall designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava. The orchestra unveiled designs in February, revealing a glass, steel, and white concrete structure dominated by two swooping "leaves." The ASO projects the hall won't open until 2010 at the earliest.
The Woodruff Arts Center, opened in 1968, is also home to the Alliance Theatre, the Atlanta College of Art, the High Museum of Art, and the 14th Street Playhouse.