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What makes cities tick? GenslerOnCities explores the planning, design, and the potential futures of urban landscapes.

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Friday
Nov172017

How Businesses Can Compete on Experience, and Win on Design

Image courtesy of Getty Images.

Nearly 30 years ago, Terminal 5 at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) celebrated its grand opening. The terminal would become Delta’s West Coast flagship, and was heavily advertised as “the world’s most relaxing airport: an oasis where passengers can relax and ‘take five.’” Designing Terminal 5 for Delta was my first project when I joined Gensler in the 1980s. Its completion ushered in a new era of design at Gensler, one relentlessly focused on design that elevates the human experience. Looking back, I can see how this project laid the foundation for what has become the Gensler Experience Index, a first-of-its-kind mixed-methods research study focused on creating a holistic framework for understanding experience, and quantifying the impact of design on experience.

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Wednesday
Nov152017

SWITCH!: (Re-)activating Urban Space in an Autonomous Future

SWITCH! is a six-piece set of unique, interlocking elements flat-packed into a 10’ x 6’ x 3’ volume. The surfaces of the eccentric sculptural shapes are rendered in two shades of color, the lighter one of which is also visible at night. Components are configurable in a surprising variety of combinations, within an individual set and among multiple, so they are adaptable to different settings. Image © Gensler

Much is made of the promise of technology for the future of cities, but this has for the most part focused upon efficiency, convenience and public health. The latter is as much a social issue as a physiological one—related to how well a “smarter” city also spurs increased and unexpected forms of interaction. With this goal in mind, we developed SWITCH!, a revolutionary street furniture prototype designed to provoke new narratives and activities that will be unlocked by the advent of the autonomous vehicle.

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Tuesday
Oct242017

Why Climate Action Is a Business Imperative 

Banfield Pet Hospital. Image © Gensler/ Ryan Gobuty.

The architecture and design community has a lot of virtues—we are a creative, thoughtful and entrepreneurial bunch. Most us are also genuinely focused on using our work to make a positive impact for our clients, our communities and our broader world. Just like any other industry, however, architects and designers can be guilty of short-term thinking, and this is especially true when it comes to climate action. Working through organizations like the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the World Green Building Council (World GBC), the industry has set some laudable goals in terms of lowering the environmental impact of our work, but we have failed to set the standards needed to reach them. These goals include achieving carbon neutrality in the design for all new building and interiors projects by 2030, and achieving carbon neutrality in the design for all new and existing buildings before 2050.

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Tuesday
Oct172017

City: 2050

What will your city look like in 2050?

Peering into the future is a favorite exercise for planners and designers. From the Chicago 1893 Columbian Exhibition to New York City’s two Worlds Fairs (1939 and 1965) and beyond, the future was optimistic and filled with cool technology and architecture. But not all views of the future were so hopeful. George Orwell’s dystopian novel “Nineteen Eighty-Four” (published in 1949) looked 35 years forward and painted a not-so-rosy vision of the future.

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Thursday
Oct122017

Revitalizing Downtown San José: Design’s Evolution and Impact

Downtown San José’s thriving Farmer’s Market is just one example of the City’s increasing efforts to adapt existing public streets and spaces to create a more vibrant downtown. Image © Gensler.

Downtown San José is well positioned to become the next urban destination. An expanding job market, investment in public transit and more affordable real estate than other parts of the Bay Area are drawing in new tech companies and a younger demographic eager to live and work in a city they love. We talked to Kevin Schaeffer, principal and managing director of Gensler's San José office, located in the heart of Downtown, about the role design has played in the evolution of this city and Silicon Valley. Read below for his reflections on where design has been, where it is now and how it’s shaping the future of Downtown San José.

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