IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2014 - 39

Arthur Gensler Jr.,
FIIDA, FAIA, RIBA
Co-founder, Gensler,
San Francisco
Arthur Gensler
founded Gensler in
1965. The firm has
grown to over 4,000
people with 46 locations
across the Americas,
Asia and Europe,
and received the AIA
Architectural Firm
of the Year Award. An
architect by profession,
Arthur currently serves
as a board member
for SF MOMA, and the
California College of the
Arts. He is a founding
member of the National
AIA Committee on
Interior Architecture,
an IIDAFellow, an
AIA Fellow, and is
a professional member
of RIBA. In 1992 he
received the Star Award
from IIDA in recognition
of his outstanding
contribution to the
contract design
industry, and in 2005
he received the
Lifetime Achievement
Award from Ernst
& Young LLP.

You founded Gensler in the mid-60's-nearly
fifty years ago. A lot has changed since then,
both in design and in the way we work. What do
you think are the biggest changes in the field?
When I started in the mid-'60s, everything
was pretty traditional, especially in the commercial office field. Most of the planning was done
by furniture dealers; even the manufacturers
weren't very much involved. The office managers
sometimes had grid paper and laid out spaces.
Some of the furniture dealers had decorators who
would do sketches and plans and color boards, but
they were all to just sell furniture. I kind of got
in and said, "This is a business that should be
professionalized." Planning got more sophisticated, but we were still thinking basically about
how to move paper from desk to desk.
When you started, in what we might call the
"Mad Men" era, offices were laid out in a very hierarchical manner, with executives in the corner offices
and along the perimeter, and everyone else in
toward the core.
That's right. But we realized that in a lot of cases,
the executives were never there, and the people
on the inside needed to see light, so we introduced
glass into offices. We also got into things like
universal planning, where there were five
foot modules with people fitted into the layouts,
rather than the idea of "I'm more senior than you,
so I should get 412 square feet in my office, while
you should get 400 square feet"-all that nonsense. It was just a different world. I remember
one of the first law firms we worked with, they
tried to make a nice cafeteria along the window.
That was almost like a sin, giving up a window
for a lunchroom where everybody could meet
and get a cup of coffee. Well, the lawyers refused
to go in that room, because they weren't going
be in the same room with the women and
the secretaries!

There's more emphasis now on small, informal
meeting spaces.
I think it was in 1968 when the World Trade
Center was being built, and the Port Authority of
New York, to their credit, brought in some people
from Germany who introduced the idea of "office
landscape." They had furniture scattered around
randomly, with a lot of plants and floating
screens. To my knowledge, that was the first large
installation in the U.S. of a different kind of
environment for the worker. Now, we're creating
large meeting places but also little tiny places
where serendipitous meetings take place.
And that's helped make for a much better workplace?
It's driven creativity to a new level. And I
never cease to believe that it's still evolving
and expanding.
Gensler started out concentrating on interior
design, but since then you've expanded to include
many different areas of architectural design,
including supertall towers.
Our basic belief is that we design from the inside
out. We worry about how the space is going to
be used, and then we create the building around
it, rather than create a building and then worry
about how the hell people are going to get into it.
Why did you decide to diversify?
We got to know these companies and they liked
the work we were doing for them, so they asked
us to do more. Companies we did interiors for said,
"Can you do a whole building for us?" Or we did
just the cores, not touching the outside, and then
the clients said, "Why don't you do the whole
thing?" So what we tell our clients is, "We'll do
anything you want, go anywhere you want, as
long as you think we'll do a good job for you."
And it's worked out.

That was around the time the cubicle
was invented -which had its ups and downs?
The early cubicles went up to six feet, and you
couldn't see anything and there was no light
coming through. It didn't give you any more
privacy than if the damn things were four feet
high. It took people a while to transition from
that. Now we see people practically sitting
on each other's laps, but they're often away from
their workstations, anyway. The workforce
is so mobile now. The way work is done, the way
mobile technology has come along, the way
teams are created-the idea of being given a
workspace and never moving from that for
the rest of your career is over.

PERSPECTIVE

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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2014

Contents
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2014 - Cover1
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2014 - Cover2
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2014 - 1
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2014 - 2
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2014 - Contents
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2014 - 4
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2014 - 5
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2014 - 6
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2014 - 7
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2014 - 8
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2014 - 9
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IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2014 - 11
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IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2014 - 13
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2014 - 14
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2014 - 15
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2014 - 16
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2014 - 16A
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2014 - 16B
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2014 - 17
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2014 - 18
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2014 - 19
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2014 - 20
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2014 - 21
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IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2014 - Cover3
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2014 - Cover4
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nielsen/perspective_2019fallwinter
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