Gensler is an American design and architecture firm headquartered in San Francisco. In 2012, Gensler generated the most revenue of any architecture firm based in the US for the second year in a row. As of 2015, it operates offices in 46 cities in 16 countries worldwide.
Art and Drue Gensler, and their associate, James Follett, founded the firm in 1965. The firm originally focused on corporate interiors, but has since diversified into numerous forms of architecture and design, including commercial office buildings, retail centers, airports, education facilities and entertainment complexes. It is also involved in planning and urban design, brand strategy, environmental graphic design, mission-critical facilities, sustainable design consulting and other areas.
Gensler was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., in 1935. An only child, he grew up in West Hartford, Conn., and graduated from high school in Garden City, Long Island. His mother worked for the phone company. His father, known as “Slats”—no one called him by his first name, Millard, or Arthur, for that matter—sold ceiling tiles for Armstrong Cork Co.
“He was one of the best architectural sales reps ever,” Gensler says of his father. “He was all about service to the client.” Years down the road that life lesson would shape the young man’s own business philosophy. “I wanted to be an architect for as long as I can remember,” he recalls.
Married in 1957, and Gensler got his BArch the next year. Upon graduating, he fulfilled his ROTC obligation as a six-month wonder in the Army Corps of Engineers. Then followed several years of job-hopping—in New York, with Shreve, Lamb and Harmon (architects of the Empire State Building); in Kingston, Jamaica, with Norman and Dawbarn; after two years in Jamaica, his friend, Peter Flack (of engineers Flack & Kurtz), recommended him for a job running the New York office of architect Albert Sigal, who was designing schools that also served as fallout shelters. When the school funding dried up, Gensler decided to relocate to San Francisco with Sigal. In 1962, with three sons in tow (a fourth would come along later), he and Drue headed west, settling in the bayside town of Tiburon, in Marin County. The new job turned out to be short-lived, so Gensler moved over to Wurster, Bernardi & Emmons, where he directed the development of design standards for the Bay Area Rapid Transit system. “Then, through a friend from Cornell, I had a chance to start my own firm,” he recalled. The opportunity: tenant development for the Alcoa Building, an SOM-designed office tower at 1 Maritime Plaza. In 1965, with Drue as office manager-accountant and Jim Follett as first employee, M. Arthur Gensler Jr. & Associates Inc. was launched.
Gensler believes that architecture is a still a great profession for young people, despite the recent layoffs (even at his own firm). “Smart young people have a great future, but you have to think of design as ‘Big D,’ not ‘little d,” he says. “You can’t think only of the aesthetics and not also the functional operations of the project, and you have to be flexible enough to meet the short-term changes that happen every day. “That’s why I get up and go to the office every day, because I hope I can make a difference for our clients”.
Bal Harbour, Florida
Following a decade of successful design collaborations, Neiman Marcus and Gensler partnered in the renovation of the retailer’s Bal Harbour location. The new design introduces an aesthetic refresh to a specialty department store that had seen only modest modifications since its 1971 opening. Employing an edgy, artistic look appealing to a younger demographic, the new store features progressive architecture and fixture design respectful of the iconic brand’s heritage. The renovation resulted in the store rising from position 16 to second on the luxury retailer’s list of top-grossing locations. VMSD awarded the store with its “2013 Retail Renovation of the Year” honor.
The Most Iconic Projects
Some of Gensler’s most notable interior design projects include: John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Dubai, Houston Ballet Center for Dance, San Francisco International Airport, Facebook, Inc. offices in London, Duke Kunshan University in China and Shanghai Tower in China. Let’s see some of our favourite projects:
In 2012, Gensler generated the most revenue of any architecture firm based in the US for the second year in a row. As of 2015, it operates offices in 46 cities in 16 countries worldwide.
NORTH AMERICA – Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Houston, La Crosse, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, Morristown – NJ, New York, Newport Beach, Oakland, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Raleigh-Durham, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle, Tampa, Toronto, Washington, D.C.
Gensler sees design as strategy in action, focused on results. We help our clients envision a better future and get there successfully. We help them leverage design’s power to generate innovative solutions that effect real transformation.
Unique among design firms, Gensler works with a cross-section of the world’s economy. This access provides us insights into the issues driving change across markets. To help businesses navigate the impact of industry trends on the built environment, our publications and thought leadership explore how design turns client challenges to competitive advantage.
Design research generates innovation
Every Gensler design practice carries out basic and applied research, separate from project work, on issues of direct benefit to our clients. The purpose always is to create value that maximizes design’s full potential for higher performance. Here we highlight our latest findings.
Cultivating a culture of design
Breakthrough ideas emerge from understanding the needs of the people and communities we serve. Delivering design that is informed, purposeful, innovative and compelling means we encourage our people — the industry’s top talent — to explore new solutions to age-old problems. We reward collaboration and intellectual curiosity — striving to leverage design’s ability to elevate the everyday.