Photo of Arthur Gensler
Arthur Gensler, 2014

Arthur Gensler: Building a Global Architecture and Design Firm

Conducted by Martin Meeker in 2014, Regional Oral History Office, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, 2015.

Arthur Gensler was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1935. He attended Cornell University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in architecture. Upon graduation, he worked for architecture firms in New York and Jamaica. After moving with his wife Drue to California in the early 1960s, Gensler worked for a few architectural firms, including Wurster, Bernardi, and Emmons. While at Wurster, he played a lead role establishing the design standards for the Bay Area Rapid Transit system, then under construction. In 1965, Gensler opened his firm by pioneering architectural interiors for newly constructed office buildings, including the Alcoa Building (1967) and the Bank of America Building (1969), both in San Francisco. His firm grew fairly rapidly with offices opening around the U.S. in the 1970s and 1980s and then overseas in the 1980s and 1990s. By the early 2000s, Gensler’s firm was the largest architecture and design company headquartered in the U.S. In 2015 the firm is expected to complete the Shanghai Tower, currently the second tallest building in the world. This wide-ranging interview covers Gensler’s family background, upbringing, and education; his early jobs as an architect; and the founding and subsequent expansion of his own firm. The interview delves into topics such as the transformation of architectural practice and technologies, the development of green building standards, and the globalization of professional services firms, among dozens of other topics.





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