May 24, 2021 | Bill Esler
Mill Valley, CA – Architectural industry titan Art Gensler (above) passed away May 10 at his home in Mill Valley, CA. He was 85. During his 65-year career as an architect and an entrepreneur, he transformed what started out as a three-person practice in San Francisco into the world’s largest design firm. Launching offices around the globe, he and his firm forever changed the profession by elevating the practice of interior design and inviting client collaboration.
Born in 1935 in New York, NY, Gensler studied at Cornell University’s College of Architecture, Art, and Planning. M. Arthur Gensler Jr. & Associates, Inc. opened in 1965. Now Gensler’s global architecture, design, and planning firm has 50 locations across Asia, Europe, Australia, the Middle East, and the Americas. With more than 3,500 active clients in virtually every business sector, Gensler says its designers strive to make the places people live, work, and play more inspiring, more resilient, and more impactful. Last year, Gensler billings totaled $1.5 billion.
“Since opening its doors in 1965, Gensler has amassed an unwavering reputation of excellence stemming from its “one-firm firm” culture, which values ‘we’ over ‘me,’ stressing the importance of teamwork,” the company says in its tribute to Art Gensler. “This ethos has won and guided countless projects worldwide, starting with such early clients as The Gap and expanding to office headquarters—including TikTok’s and the Motion Picture Association’s—airports, showrooms, hospitality environments, even the Shanghai Tower, recognized as the second tallest building in the world. They’ve all lead to widespread admiration both for Art Gensler and the practice.”
Gensler’s practice touches on multiple facets of interior and exterior design, as well as creating more habitable and sustainable city environments. Its knowledge of interiors informs its design. For example, Gensler collaborated with hardware manufacturer PBA on stainless steel Everyone Millwork Pulls, ergonomically sculpted for ease of opening and closing with no pinching or simultaneous hand-and-finger manipulation. Gensler’s intimacy with design shows in the specs of the pull. Each has a minimum opening width of 4” and a minimum opening depth of 1” — based on typical door/drawer dimensions. Recently they were enhanced with optional antimicrobial powder coating or copper plating.
Another example is Gensler’s work with in casegoods. Gensler designed the Brera25 with Italy’s IOC, for the private office of executives, in a combination of rich materials, including lacquer, wood, melamine, eco-leather, and metal. A double 45° jointed carcass and glass leg add distinctive flair, while a concealed electrical mechanism allows for effortless sit-stand functionality. Compatible with IOC Ultralight partitions, it’s the new protagonist in workplace design.
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