In Memoriam: M. Arthur Gensler Jr.

Categories: Articles

Art Gensler. Image: Courtesy Gensler.
Image: Gensler.

It is with sadness that the National Building Museum notes the death of M. Arthur Gensler Jr., founder of the world’s largest architecture firm, on May 10 at the age of 85.

Launched in 1965 as a small, San Francisco–based interior-design studio, M. Arthur Gensler Jr. & Associates grew over the decades into the single-name design firm that now boasts 5,000 employees working in 50 offices across the globe. Despite the name-brand recognition and impact his firm has had on buildings and interiors of every type, Gensler never claimed credit for designs, but instead always worked to create a collaborative, team-based, “one-firm firm” culture.

Gensler’s leadership on the Museum’s Board of Trustees spans decades, with active service from 1998 to 2004, when he was named an Honorary Trustee. Most recently, he was named a member of our 40th Anniversary Campaign’s Honorary Committee. Kenneth P. Baker, Co-Managing Principal of Gensler’s Southeast Region, currently serves as a trustee, carrying on the founder’s legacy of service to the National Building Museum.

In a 2001 interview for the Museum’s Blueprints publication, Gensler described his firm’s approach to design:

Unlike many “star” architects and firms, the Gensler company has avoided developing a signature style. Instead, its design solutions respond to the unique needs of its clients and the constantly changing environment in which they do business. “In the past, designers emphasized aesthetics and function. Today, our work is about solving strategic issues that go far beyond looking good,” Gensler explained. “Good design is strategic, and that requires that our professional team really get to the root of the problem.”