Remembering Art Gensler

John Hill
11. May 2021
M. Arthur Gensler, Jr. (1935–2021)

M. Arthur Gensler, Jr., founder of the global architecture and interior design firm Gensler, died on Monday, May 10, at the age of 85. A short film celebrates the life of Art, as he was known, featuring statements from the architect and businessman and photos spanning his 65-year career.

Art, his wife Drue (1936–2017), and James Follett co-founded M. Arthur Gensler Jr. & Associates, Inc. in San Francisco in 1965. Today, 56 years later, Gensler has 50 office on four continents, with 32 offices in North America. The Art Gensler legacy page on Gensler's website describes Art as "an architect and astute businessman who propelled a small business into the largest and most admired firm in the industry." The firm attributes this success to "his 'inside-out' approach to architecture" that put human experience at the core of their projects, "a framework our firm still embraces to this day." 

Art shared his advice with the world in Art's Principles: 50 years of hard-learned lessons in building a world-class professional services firm, a book he wrote with Michael Lindenmayer and published in 2015, five years after he stepped down as Gensler chairman. The six-minute film offers similar lessons to the book — "We treat each other like family and we respect, so if someone in the family has an idea you listen to it" — lessons that should appeal to architects geared to the business side of the profession. Ultimately, as the Art Gensler legacy page attests, "his gift to the firm was an ethos that allowed it to grow and prosper against all odds."

In early 2017, World-Architects visited Gensler's New York City office, which was founded in 1979 but had just moved from its longtime home in Rockefeller Center to an office building at the north end of the Theater District. Read our Gensler Studio Visit here.

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