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

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Gensler Reimagines Work in the City

Image © Gensler

In 2013 Gensler launched a three-year initiative called Reimagining Cities aimed at prompting a series of conversations on how thoughtful, community specific design proposals can address nagging urban problems. Year one focused on the vitality of public open space and continued significance of the Town Square. Gensler offices around the globe created design based scenarios that presented alternatives to the ineffectual conventional wisdom espoused in too many critical public conversations happening in cities across the globe. Our design teams sought fresh solutions to seemingly intractable problems, from retooling pedestrian malls to capturing infrastructure projects as communal space, and in doing so reimagined how cities can harness the potential of open space to create more livable communities.

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Preparing for the Design-ful Economy

Mark Kelly, vice president of student affairs at Columbia College Chicago, helps lead a discussion about how on-campus collaboration can better prepare art students for work in an increasingly design-ful economy.Image © Gensler

One of the more rewarding aspects of leading the education and culture practice area out of Gensler’s Chicago office is the opportunity to engage clients in conversations that extend beyond project work. One of our clients here in Chicago, the School of the Art Institute (SAIC), invited us to lead a session for the 2014 Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design (AICAD) conference hosted at the institution. Entitled Make No Little Plans: Building the Resilient Campus, the conference brought together leaders from art schools around the country to ideate around how the campus experience could better equip art students for the professional world and catapult them towards successful careers as a collective creative community.

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Water and Resilience at the Clark

The reflecting pool at the Clark. Photo © Gensler, Chris Leonard Photographer

When visitors arrive at The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute (the Clark) in Williamstown, Mass., they are greeted by a wonderful sense of calm. Tadao Ando, design architect for the project, recently stated “This is a great place to contemplate what it means to be alive.” Whenever I’m immersed in this environment, I feel a deep connection to art, architecture and nature. Being at the Clark creates a heightened awareness of each; the beauty is in the overwhelming feeling itself. It is pure joy.

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Shanghai Tower Rising

Image © Noah Sheldon

Shanghai Tower has entered its final construction phase, and the construction team is reaching key milestones every week. The team recently began putting the final touches on the inventive double skin facade and prepared the very top of the Tower for the crown, which will hold the Tower's wind turbines and Tuned Mass Damper. The site has also become a point of interest with foreign visitors: Max Baucus, the United States Ambassador to China, toured the Tower during a recent trip to Shanghai.

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Wellness on the Corporate Campus 

Confidential energy trading facility. Photographer: Tim Griffiths

Recently I've been involved with a number of efforts to marry the traditional fitness center with a larger notion of well-being across the corporate campus and its 24/7 workplace life. In North America the idea of a corporate campus can vary: a single tall building or a cluster in an urban setting, or a suburban campus of lower rise buildings. Both have the single purpose focus of supporting collaborative teams whose “full work/life needs” are designed to be close at hand. This all-encompassing environment, a hallmark of these 21st century “company towns,” entails both wellness and fitness imperatives.

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