Issues that face the contemporary style design

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Contemporary-style design is considered an architectural benchmark worldwide. Companies and organizations have reverted to simple form, sleek lines, bold color schemes, and sheer elegance. Gensler is an architectural pioneer always adapting to the rapid changes in the realm of architecture (Gensler). Architecture firms rarely gain notoriety for marvelous structures that decorate city landscapes. Businesses are praised for elegant design when in fact architect firms deserve credit for visual expertise. Architecture is changing to cope with environmental needs and the demands of businesses and consumers. Green designs emit less harmful gases and preserve the ozone. Organizations need to efficiently and effectively use space to cut down on the cost of fixtures and furniture. Expensive fuel steepens the cost of building supplies and decorative pieces. Clients and consumers want aesthetically acceptable structures to improve the public's shopping experience. Global urban centers compete to attract more tourists, customers and potential long term clients. Gensler has risen to the occasion for forty years. The firm grew to superstardom during the Art Deco craze of the 1970s. In the 1980s, Gensler coined the most boisterous designs that meshed with the wild attitude of the era. A decade later, Gensler successfully mastered the designs of the Generation X era. Today, Gensler is one of the most prolific contemporary architectural designers in the US. Gensler is the world's largest and most profitable architect firm. Gensler hopes to continue growing worldwide (Gensler).

History

Art Gensler, Drue Gensler and Drue Follet founded Gensler in 1965 (Gensler). The company's scope was narrow and primitive. The small firm initially designed law firms and moved into other architectural fields as they gained exposure. The company expanded its operations as it grew more popular. In less than five years the staff grew threefold. Gensler completed a number of large projects despite the faltering US economy. Gensler operated effectively despite new legislation calling for stricter building regulations. By the middle of the 1970s, Gensler became a household name in the architecture scene (Riverbed). Art Gensler gained personal notoriety for his cunning shrewdness. Gensler rapidly excels even during economic uncertainty. During the construction boom of 2005 and 2006, Gensler's respective gross revenues were $331 and $435 million (Gensler Annual Report 2009). Other reputable companies failed to match the feats of Gensler. In 2009, Gensler amassed a whopping $697 in gross profit. Since 2005 Gensler's gross profits and revenues have steadily increased. Gensler's services are not limited to architecture. The company employs hundreds of project managers, graphics and interior designers (Gensler Annual Report 2009).

Accolades and Awards

Numerous accolades and awards have been bestowed on the firm. In 1972 Gensler received its first prize when the The San Francisco United Airlines ticket office was awarded the Architect Record interior design award (Riverbed). In 1999, the World Architecture Magazine awarded Gensler with the prestigious #1 of top 100 Architectural Firms award. In 2003, a peer survey conducted by Contract Magazine named Gensler "The Most Admired Architectural Firm" worldwide (Riverbed). For consecutive years Gensler has been showered with various awards commemorating its outstanding contributions to architecture and interior design. Gensler is unanimously the world's most famous and successful design firm.

Global Image

Gensler's infiltrates global markets to increase its profit. The company recently completed a mega project in Bostwana - an up and coming southern African nation. Part of Gensler's global image is capitalizing on promising and fast growing economies. Bostwana has benefiting from mining and diamond industries and the exodus of South African workers yearning for more safety and stability. The Bostwana Innovation Hub features passive cooling, sun shading, and natural light (Gensler Annual Report 2009). Space is effectively utilized to encourage active movement of personnel even on a busy day. Gensler is also concerned with global education and outreach. Gensler completed the renovation and expansion of the London based London Fisher club. The boxing club's renovation budget was minimal yet Gensler rose to the occasion and successfully completed the entire project. Gensler designed new showers, created more locker room space, and improved the club's overall appearance (Gensler Annual Report 2009). The youth club is delighted that Gensler met and exceeded their expectations. In light of overwhelming international success, Gensler established international headquarters in China, Japan, Europe, and the United Arab Emirates. Gensler innovatively builds its global image by reaching out to youngsters. Gensler supports tens of education enrichment programs in the US. Schools in Chicago apply for design aid annually and chosen schools are the recipient of pro-bono assistance from Gensler. The architecture firm is currently renovating several Chicago area libraries. Gensler is globally recognized as an ethical and honest organization. Their international fortunes will expand in the coming the years (Gensler Annual Report 2009).

Recognition and Reputation

Gensler is a relationship driven firm. Its success is derived from long standing partnerships with other reputable organizations. Gensler's client list includes many Fortune 500 companies. Gensler currently workers with a diverse set of clients including LAX, BP, PNC Financial Services, Ernst and Young, Dodger Stadium and many others. Gensler delivers results in various spectrums (Riverbed). Their knowledge proves effective in the renovation of airports, sports venues, office buildings, and shopping malls. In the past year they completed a whopping 5,289 projects. Gensler expands its client base by accepting both low and high budget products and seeking diversification. Gensler never worked with a sports venue prior to Dodger Stadium. Dodger Stadium's interior updates were considered acceptable and far above average. Gensler then went on to construct the Detroit Lions' training facility. Gensler takes calculated and well studied risks to gain more business. For the 29th straight year, Gensler was recognized as the top architect firm. Gensler boats over 2,200 localities and clients (Gensler Annual Report 2009). The Board of Directors continually votes to limit its endeavors to commercial.

Employee Loyalty

There are 3000 employees in 34 worldwide offices. Employees are empowered by the organization to encourage longevity, hard work, and optimum results. New comers are especially pleased with Gensler's commitment to strategy, structure, and recourse. The Board of Directors system ensures that managerial resignation or retirement cannot adversely impact the company's overall progress. Contingency plans exist to rapidly promote and reshuffle in the case of someone resigning. Workers are not threatened by cutthroat backroom politics. In the last year, $11,964 was contributed to each member's retirement (Gensler Annual Report 2009). As result, company's retirement plan is worth $28.5 million. Gensler's turnover ratio is exceptionally low, with less than 1 percent of personnel resigning in the last year. The only fallback for Gensler was layoffs in light of the economic downturn. Some 1,000 employees were let go in some of the hardest hit areas (Riverbed). Gensler argued that they chose to preemptively act to decrease risk and solidify their operations. HR managers believed that sweltering staff counts could create financial jeopardy. The company hopes to create more positions when the need for personnel arises. To keep cost down, few administrative supporters are contracted. Potential clients negotiate directly with high level managers. Nonetheless, Gensler's dedication to its staff members is unwavering.

Core Values

Gensler takes pride in its credo and core values. The company's individual and collective interests are to encourage a sense of passion, curiosity, simplicity, integrity, excellence, purpose, culture, and balance. Curiosity and simplicity are regarded as two of the most interesting yet cunning core traits. Gensler is interested best understanding the goals of the clients without becoming obtuse or impractical. Clients hold dynamic interests and vivid goals and it is Gensler's jobs to embrace their vision. Gensler best serve customers by communicating project plans and format in the most clear cut and simplistic fashion. Other organizations earn business by cutting corners and offering misleading information to clients. Gensler's confidently states its core goal is effectiveness and craftsmanship as opposed to low cost. Gensler attempts to work within the budgeting of a client but will not take underhanded shortcuts because of lower operating funds. Gensler clearly states their goals, abilities and expectations from the outset. Clients are never misled or mistreated (Gensler Annual Report 2009).

Another important integrity related aspect is personal and collective accountability. Gensler takes full responsibility for its actions and creates a formidable paper trail to do so. The organization is equipped with the most lucid forms of checks and balances to protect the interests of Gensler and clients. One of the most attractive aspects of Gensler is the promotion of cultural diversity. Gensler's US offices feature individuals from various ethnic, cultural, and religious backgrounds. The group's inception of offices in Europe and Asia further improve its global image. Employees are major priority for the Gensler firm. The organization understands the importance of balancing personal and professional endeavors. Employees are proud to work for an organization that is 100 percent employee owned and operated. Gensler is an ethical and morally fit company. Since the inception of the company, no major lawsuits have slightly threatened its operations (Gensler Annual Report 2009).

Core Messages

Aside from company values Gensler's corporate message is appealing to current and prospective clients. A dynamic network characterizes Gensler's working schemes. The group's operations are not limited to architectural design. Gensler is sort of a one-stop-shop, offering assistance and expertise in interior design, project management and development. Gensler's services and drive are wide ranging and encompassing. Gensler incorporates many aspects of architecture and interior design in-house to cater to a full array of needs. Clients are not settling for less quality when they retain the services of Gensler from A to Z. The company's dynamic network is well trained, highly skilled, and devoted to the client and Gensler. The company only acquires the services of the most qualified personnel. Job openings are rarely available because of extremely low turnover. Gensler's architects, designers, project managers, and marketing specialists make up an energetic dynamic network (Gensler Annual Report 2009).

Design and strategy go hand in hand. Gensler achieves creative results by using precision techniques. Other organizations offer excellent design but lack pinpoint methodology to bring out clean and crisp results. For Gensler, every tiny measurement is accurate to ensure client satisfaction. Quality control is strictly followed and adhered to until the finish. Cohesiveness is part of Gensler's core message. Cliens are made aware that the entire organization takes pride and the utmost interest in each project.

Unlocking Opportunity

The best method for unlocking strategy is reverting to basic values and competencies. Architects always strive to go over the top and personify final designs. Retention rates are astronomical, return business is commonplace, and referrals are plenty. Clients are thrilled by Gensler's commitment to perfection. JFK Airport asked Gensler to redesign its terminal and the results were phenomenal. Gensler's charged less than other bidders yet delivered a world class and efficient terminal. Passengers and airport officials are pleased with abundant space, outstanding lighting and great amenities and features. Gensler achieved stellar results by combining simplicity and elegance. Architects, designers and product managers excel by fully integrating client needs and expectations. Architects think beyond design and aesthetics. Helping companies increase their marketability and revenues is a top priority. The JFK project exemplified Gensler's efforts to help JFK increase effectiveness and efficiency (Gensler Annual Report 2009).

Genslers aims to focus and grow by empowering clients. Improved aesthetics, more roaming space and sharp design plays a pivotal role in attracting customers. Many of Gensler's projects have revived the operations of different organizations. REI of Seattle, an outdoors cooperative sought to add more space for its goods. Project designers added more display space and ample room for customers to experiment with goods. REI's sales have increased since the renovations. Project managers conduct market research during the preliminary phases of a project. Architects found that natural light helped increase sales by 40 percent and also consumed energy by more than 20 percent. Gensler aims to help companies save and cutback on expenses (Gensler Annual Report 2009).

Repositioning, reconditioning, and refurbishing are focuses of Gensler. Soundly constructed buildings may become outdated with time and require some cosmetic touchup. After surveying Gensler has advised various clients to take the frugal path of renovation. Renovation allows Genslers to spend less time and focus on one more project while delivering optimum and cost effective results to its clients. To mask outdated structures, Gensler often erects smaller structures within close proximity. A Government Services Administration building of Atlanta fell out of touch with the nearby modern landscape and the board's drive to construct greener and more civic friendly buildings. Gensler successfully updated existing hallways, carpets, ceilings, and fixtures. The renovations were complemented by the addition of a midsize energy saving building (Gensler Annual Report 2009).

Employees are Gensler's main asset. The Workplace Index measures the employee levels of performance and satisfaction annually. The survey shows that Gensler's US and UK offices enjoy the highest levels of employee success and satisfaction. The chart is being used to constantly improve and solidify the workplace. Work campuses are designed to encourage communication, intimacy, hard work, and comfort. Gensler's employees are among the highest paid in the industry. Clients are encouraged to establish longstanding relationships with their preferred architect or designer. Sustainable networking allows Gensler employees to constantly stay abreast of client needs (Gensler Annual Report 2009).

The mundane and redundant routines of western civilization can hinder employee production. Comfortable workers resist change and adaptation to new trends. One of the cornerstones of Gensler's strategy is innovation and change. All elements of the company are expected to innovate, create, and improvise. The competitive edge rests upon distinguishing Gensler from the rest. Gensler experiments with different clients to gain more experience and foothold in different sectors. One of its famed projects is the renovation of UK Kent County public schools. Students were bored with old furniture, peeling paint, dim lighting, and old electronics. Kent County Public schools sought to improve student attendance, attentiveness, and exam performance. Kent County contracted Gensler to provide classrooms, gyms, and lecture areas with a facelift. The results proved to be phenomenal. Classrooms were transformed into vibrant and colorful places of enjoyment and learning. Schools resemble modern boutiques, cafes and cinemas as opposed to mundane classrooms. Pupil attendance has increased by 90% and exam marks are up by 375%. To gain business Gensler continues to innovate (Gensler Annual Report 2009).

Companies avoid risk during economic downturns. Gensler uses the global recession to find new business opportunities in flourishing places. In 1998, Gensler opened its doors in China (Gensler). Ten years later, China unveiled its largest building, the Shanghai Tower. Gensler is credited with developing and designing the impressive structure. The worldwide recession has not slowed down Gensler's efforts. Gensler took advantage of Dubai's recent success and unveiled a number of mega projects amidst world turmoil. Despite Dubai's faltering economy, Gensler continues to grow in the sprawling Emirate. Gensler avoids primitive and vigilante approaches to business opportunities. The organization continues to grow worldwide.

Interviews

Johan Nahra

Johan Nahra, a lead architect for Gensler's Washington DC office sat down to answer questions about the firm. Nahra reiterated some of the information previously found and offered useful and interesting insight into Gensler's operations. The company is run out of its San Francisco headquarters. The West Coast office oversees other locations, sets policies and develops collective strategies. The West Coast is responsible for maintaining a strong system of checks and balances. San Francisco's managers encourage each office to independently handle their separate affairs. The main office remains responsible for the organization's overall finances, expansion, and branding decisions. The Board of Directors operates out of San Francisco and periodically convenes to make executive decisions.

Growth and Layoffs

Gensler has grown tremendously in the past decade. The company operates in North America, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. Expansion constantly requires the acquisition of new personnel. Economic catastrophe triggered Gensler to terminate 1,000 employees, mostly those related to production. Gensle foresaw the eventual decline in commercial building around the globe hence the layoffs. To cope Gensler uses fewer production people to layout the framework for projects. Consolidating helped the company achieve better organization and efficiency. Graphics design and animation departments were too expensive to maintain. Animation work is now outsourced to third parties in China. Gensler finds the tactic to be efficient and cost effective since outsourced projects are finished by the time US architects arrive to work.

Office Scheme

Nahra called Gensler workforce "highly collaborative." Each studio houses interior designers, graphic designers, and planners. The disciplines come together to complete each project. Project managers are always assigned to ensure smooth decisiveness. Smaller teams prove to be more realistic and decisive. Two important project elements are the project manager and the design manager. The project manager is responsible for steering the business aspect of design. Project managers act as a business liaison between financial representatives of Gensler and clients. Project Managers are responsible for negotiating and securing new assignments. They simultaneously crunch numbers and try to close deals. The project designer watches over the technical elements of development. Architects and graphic designers report to the project designer. The project designer delegates tasks, negates ideas, and makes changes when necessary. Gensler finds that two highly motivated and experienced persons can do more than a larger and relatively inexperienced team. Big assignments require the formation of a structured hierarchal pyramid.

Financial Strategy

Low price is not part of Gensler's strategy. Clients pay for cutting edge and distinguished quality. The main financial strategy is to profit each time. Nahra states that all assignments in the past two years have generated some profit. Lower profit projects are accepted to gain exposure and build relationships. Each team member is vital to the direction of the project. Making sure that each person plays a valuable role is critical to the financial strategy. Gensler refrains from overstaffing to avoid idleness and laze. To maximize profit managers communicate with clients in understandable and comprehendible terms. Managers drop the office lingo and speak practically. Outspoken and personable approach builds confidence between the two parties. Project managers are essentially sales consultants and closers. They are responsible for conveying goals and closing deals. The greatest key to gaining profit is founding a relationship based on trust. Shrewd clients put money on the backburner to quality. Gensler personnel research and develop to identify good selling and bargaining points. Well prepared individuals are more likely to secure lasting relationships.

Risk Management

Residential contracts are viewed as the greatest risk and liability to architects. Johan presented a valid example to personify the level of risk involved in residential. Construction defects found in a condominium could lead to suits being filed by tens of tenants while a business can only file a single suit. Residential work can bring about the demise of Gensler. High profile celebrities have nonetheless asked Gensler to design their dream homes. Each time, Gensler has politely declined. Gensler does not hold the contracts of engineers in case of a building discrepancy. Clients must deal directly with engineers if they are not pleased with structural integrity. Architects cover bases to avoid future run-ins with their clients. Johan nonetheless reiterated their commitment to accountability and quality control. In forty years of architecture work, very few suits have been filed against Gensler. When clients are unhappy, Gensler acts within its power to correct and rectify the problem. The company is protected by many high profile attorneys specializing in the legal framework of architecture and interior design. The only way to minimize client scrutiny is by pushing for the highest levels of quality control. By no means will managers compromise quality and satisfaction. The safety of building inhabitants in the short and long term is always considered.

Personnel

Gensler owes lots of its success to highly talented employees. Financial success allows the company to seek only the most skilled personnel. Competitors cannot keep up with the pace of Gensler's talented employees. Gensler's directly recruits from coveted universities and design institutions. Nahra and other architects joined Gensler when other firms were faltering. Employees are satisfied with the constant influx of new projects during tough economic times. Architects tend to relocate more than other professionals. There are architects that want to experience different architectural schemes of other geographical areas. Recently, firm members based in San Francisco requested relocation to New York to take part in designing high rises. Gensler allowed them to make the switch. Gensler is generally flexible about moving personnel deeming work is available.

There are few employment openings for the general public. Gensler's selection process is quite stringent and not so accommodating for inexperienced and unproven professionals. The company supports merit-based promotion system. Employees are given performance reviews and promoted to higher posts. Efficient company-wide structure is Gensler's heart and soul. All decisions are collaboratively discussed and undertaken. No single employee has the power to unilaterally take action. Competitive firms regularly attempt to lure clients away from Gensler. Committee members convene to discuss the prospects of entering a bidding war. Managers frequently opt against bidding because of not-so favorable prospects for generating income. The process nonetheless is fair because it takes into consideration the needs of the company and staff members.

Harish Mercandani

Legal Counsel

The East Coast's lead counsel is immensely busy but agreed to spend several minutes with me. Protecting an architecture firm is an intricate and difficult process. The most critical aspect of safeguarding an architect firm is ensuring quality and accuracy the first time. Most lawsuits arise from defects as result of shoddy materials and poor construction methods. Attorneys urge architects and engineers to diligently plan beforehand to guarantee long term durability. There are attorneys working at each Gensler location. Before the company grew Art Gensler contracted legal work to outside parties. Worldwide expansion demands the constant attention of legal counsel. Lawyers do more than represent the company when something goes wrong. Their main responsibility is writing up lawful work proposals that protect the client and Gensler. Even a small syntax or grammatical error can delay a project's start date. Counties and cities have different building codes and procedures. Attorneys make sure that Gensler's is in accordance with laws pursuant to the local vicinity. Legal services are quite expensive but crucial and necessary.

Employees play a role in protecting the legal standing of Gensler. Lawyers encourage staff members to create a good paper trail and document all interactions with customers. Spoken promises are hard to enforce therefore employees are responsible for putting everything in writing. Like other companies, Gensler believes that the customer is always right. Staff members are scolded if they do not track all interactions with clients. The goal is to cover the company and oneself. Gensler does not tolerate misconduct stemming from harsh disagreements with clients. Architects, designers, and project managers cannot clear their name without presenting written supporting evidence. Risk management is quality control and assurance.

General Atmosphere

Gensler's work environment is vibrant and upbeat. The workplace mirrors the company's high profile projects. The office is designed in a fashion that encourages teamwork and communication. Employees are not enclosed in suffocating cubicles and small working spaces. The general work area is open and bright. Employees are able to temporarily relocate to private offices to hold private meetings and work alone. Workspace resembles a contemporary shopping outlet or home. The setting is practical for those employed in the field of interior design and architecture. Gensler takes the emotional well being of their staff into account. Employees seemed to be articulate, well put together, and quite sharp. I have visited during architecture firms and never has one been so intricately designed. I was also impressed with the general friendliness of the busy staff. Nahra and Mercandani were delighted to spend time with me. Their pro-active approach is definitely a sign of success and content with the organization. Gensler seems like an interesting and fantastic place to work.

Conclusion

People sometimes forget that interior design is an important discipline. Architectural masterpieces are downplayed and labeled as expected modern fixtures. Landscapes and skylines are carefully planned and constructed to encourage aesthetic importance and civic pride. Gensler takes pride in its role as the world's best design firm. I believe that in light of so much success Gensler should take other steps to further expand. Gensler has not yet reached out to the sprawling metropolises of South America. The economies of Brazil, Chile and Argentina are strengthening and design expertise is required. Gensler can capitalize on success in South America. The region could be a gateway to greater fortunes. I certainly appreciate Gensler's efforts to contribute to the growth of Bostwana. Gensler must setup permanent operations in Africa to complete its monopoly of the globe. The work of the firm is to be both cherished and admired. I long that Gensler will one day reach out to my homeland, Libya. I can only yearn and dream to work for such a respected and highly coveted organization. In a perfect world, I will one day run and manage an organization bigger than Gensler.

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