A TRIBUTE TO ART GENSLER
A legacy of influence and inspiration forever transforming the architecture and design industry
MAY 10, 2021
Art Gensler, an architect and visionary who propelled a small practice into one of the largest and most admired firms in the industry, has passed away peacefully at home in Mill Valley, California. He was 85.
Art was an industry icon and entrepreneur with the vision that we not only design spaces, but we do so with the understanding that they have the power to shape how we experience the world and who we become within it.
During a 65-year career, his gift to the firm was an ethos that has allowed Gensler to continue to grow and prosper. That ethos was distinguished by a belief in collaboration, support of design education and career advancement, respect for individuals, dedication to clients, and endorsement of sustainable design. All these values blended to form the unique and lasting culture he established at his namesake firm.
His vision of a collaborative culture that emphasizes a selfless client-first design approach has become a characteristic Gensler trait, and has helped propel the firm to global prominence long after Art stepped down as CEO in 2005 and Chairman in 2010.
After Art’s retirement from the board, he remained a constant presence in the firm, renowned as a mentor to our next generation of leaders. Art made a profound difference in the lives of many people in the firm and the local, national, and international community. Of all the architects of his generation, Art Gensler stands out as the preeminent firm-builder. He founded and built a collaborative practice that has had wide influence on the profession and become the industry benchmark for a well-run, conservatively managed business.
Born in Brooklyn, New York in 1935, he completed his Bachelor of Architecture degree from Cornell University’s College of Architecture, Art, and Planning in 1958, during which time he met his wife of almost 60 years, Drucilla (Drue) Cortell Gensler. The couple married in 1957 and moved from New York to San Francisco in 1962. In 1965, Art and Drue co-founded M. Arthur Gensler Jr. & Associates, Inc. with James Follett. They started the business in a one-room office with just one draftsman and $200 in the bank.
Art Gensler于1935年出生在纽约布鲁克林，1958年获康奈尔大学建筑艺术规划学院（AAP）学士学位，也在此结识了之后相伴近60年的妻子Drucilla (Drue) Cortell Gensler。两人于1957年步入婚姻殿堂，1962年从纽约迁至旧金山生活。1965年，Art和Drue夫妇联合成立M. Arthur Gensler Jr.联合股份有限公司，当时只有一位员工James Follett。凭借一间办公室、一位制图员和账户里的200美元，他们开启了创业之路。
Art started the firm with a focus on work that fell below the radar screen for many architects — space planning and interiors. In the process, he virtually created interior design as a new category of architectural practice, bringing it to a new level of professionalism.
Under his leadership, the firm was pioneer in the practice of interior architecture, playing a significant role in developing client understanding of the value of the profession. Early in his career, he recognized the need for a new architectural discipline that came to be known as tenant development. Beginning with the Alcoa Building in San Francisco, the firm developed the programming practices that have become the framework for interior architectural projects throughout the profession.
In 2010, Art stepped down as the firm’s chairman — putting the Co-CEO model in place that still exists today with Andy Cohen and Diane Hoskins leading the firm. Art spent his later years giving back to the community and his alma mater, serving as a Trustee of the Buck Institute for Aging, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the California College of the Arts.
2010年，Art辞去董事长一职，并确立了联席CEO的管理模式，由Andy Cohen与Diane Hoskins继续领导公司至今。晚年，Art致力于回馈社区及母校，曾担任巴克衰老研究所（Buck Institute for Aging）、旧金山现代艺术博物馆（San Francisco Museum of Modern Art）和加州艺术学院CCA（California College of the Arts）理事。
Recently Art, along with his family, gifted $10 million to Cornell University’s College of Architecture, Art, and Planning (AAP) — a gift that will sustain AAP’s thriving New York City- based program, which was a longtime dream of Art’s.
Art is widely credited, awarded, and recognized with elevating the interior design practice to professional standing. The reputation he helped the firm secure as a model for the architectural profession led to its being the Year 2000 recipient of the American Institute of Architects’ Architecture Firm of the Year, the Institute’s highest honor to a collaborative practice.
Accomplishments throughout his storied career include being named a Fellow of both the American Institute of Architects (FAIA) and the International Interior Design Association (FIIDA), and a professional member of the Royal Institute of British Architects. He received a Design Futures Council Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016. A charter member of Interior Design magazine’s Hall of Fame and a recipient of IIDA’s Star Award, he also received Ernst & Young LLP’s Lifetime Achievement Award and the Cornell Entrepreneur of the Year Award.
此外，他荣列美国建筑师学院成员（FAIA）、国际室内设计师联盟成员（FIIDA），以及英国皇家建筑师协会的专业会员。2016年，他获得未来设计学会终身成就奖（Design Futures Council Lifetime Achievement Award）。他位列《室内设计》杂志“名人堂”创始元年成员，并获得国际室内设计师联盟（IIDA）星光奖（Star Award）、安永终身成就奖（Ernst & Young’s Lifetime Achievement Award）和康奈尔年度创业家奖（Cornell Entrepreneur of the Year Award）。
Art was predeceased by his wife of nearly 60 years, Drucilla (Drue) Cortell Gensler. He is survived by his four sons and their families: David and his children (Aaron, Thisbe, Dunia, and Pales) with Alisoun; Robert and his wife Gillian; Douglas and his children (Cortie, Cailin, and Mamie) with Kinzie; and Kenneth and his children (Morgan, Jake, and Sam) with Jennifer and grandchild (and Art’s great-grandchild) Charlotte.
与Art相伴近60年的妻子Drucilla (Drue) Cortell Gensler已先于他离世。他们共育有四个儿子，家庭成员包括：David、Alisoun夫妇，育有Aaron、Thisbe、Dunia、Pales；Robert、Gillian夫妇；Douglas、Kinzie夫妇，育有Cortie、Cailin、Mamie；Kenneth、Jennifer夫妇，育有Morgan、Jake、Sam，孙女Charlotte（Art的曾孙一辈）。
Andy Cohen, Co-CEO, Gensler
“Art’s passing is a great loss for our industry and for me personally. He was my mentor, coach, and great friend for 40 years. As our founder, he helped mold my career and those of so many other Gensler leaders. He laid the foundations for the company to become a global powerhouse – one that has repeatedly been recognized as the most admired design firm in the world. He taught us all about pursuing personal passions, opening doors for our people to excel at what they love to do, and working together to redefine the profession. He demonstrated how design has the power to create a better world. He showed us anything is possible.”
“Art’s founding principles established our one-firm-firm philosophy: that we are one seamless and integrated Gensler family around the globe. He thought of the company as a “constellation of stars,” celebrating our diversity of perspectives, experience, and expertise. The firm, he always said, was not about him, but about all its people moving forward together, through thick and thin, in the same direction. He believed deeply that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. The one-of-a-kind spirit of collaboration and inclusiveness that Art established still serves as the foundation of our firm, uniting us in purpose and vision for generations to come.
“We will forever honor Art’s leadership and legacy as an industry pioneer. He taught us through example that putting our client’s success at the center of what we do allows us to overcome even the greatest challenges and seize the greatest opportunities across the globe. His vision, values, and influence will live on at the firm that carries his name as we continue to evolve and grow, with each generation taking the company to new heights.
Diane Hoskins, Co-CEO, Gensler
“Art’s legacy on the industry is in how he elevated the interior design profession and drove innovation across an entire industry. His vision for our firm was that, together, designers and clients can solve the world’s biggest challenges. This has never been more important than it is right now. His legacy as a person was in the way he mentored almost everyone he met. An instant friend with an open mind and a master connector of people, the built environment, and the human experience.”
“We have so much to be thankful for because of Art. He gave us Gensler’s core culture, our focus on people and the human experience, and our continued philosophy to design for optimism. He was also a mentor and a friend. He founded our firm on a central set of principles, one of those being our commitment to our clients. Art didn’t seek the next great project — he attracted amazing clients, many of whom we still work with today.
As our firm continues to evolve and grow, we will remain steadfast in the lessons we learned from Art and the work that reflects the culture he created.”
“Art was instrumental in shaping my career at Gensler. I joined the firm because Art’s vision and values were so compelling: a belief in people and a deep commitment to the human experience, a belief in the power of design as a tool to propel business performance and a drive towards growth ignited by curiosity and a can-do attitude. He laid the foundation for us to become the firm we are today and we will continue to honor his legacy in the future of the firm.”
Xiaomei Lee, Regional Managing Principal of Greater China
Art was an industry icon and visionary. He has been a mentor and friend to me over the 18 years we’ve worked together. Our daily conversations and collaboration during the design of the Shanghai Tower was a personal highlight. Art made a profound difference in my life and the lives of countless others.