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

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Will California Lead the Way to Energy Independence?

The CSU Northridge Sustainability + Recycling Center includes a rooftop photovoltaic system which offsets the energy required to support the building's administrative functions. Glazed, north-facing overhead windows bring in natural light that enhances the work environment for staff and creates a daylight autonomous environment. The design eliminates the need for artificial light in the building during daylight hours. Ryan Gobuty, Image © Gensler

The architecture and design community has been aware of its responsibility to lead the fight against climate change for several decades now. Important industry initiatives like the AIA’s Architecture 2030 Commitment use techniques like voluntary self-reporting from firms to help bring down the energy consumption and carbon footprint since 2009, and Gensler is proud to be a leader in that program.

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Designing the First Triple-Certified Green Building in China

Image Caption: Johnson Controls, a leading provider of intelligent building technology and energy efficiency solutions is investing in social capital and the wellbeing of their employees. Image © Gensler

Building well-being design is essential in mega-cities like Shanghai, where dense urban environments challenge the way we work and achieve healthy lifestyles. China’s need for new office buildings continues to increase year after year, making it the world’s largest construction market. The government has taken notice and has mandated that almost every new building over 20,000 square meters meet China Green Building Design Label Certification standards. While these actions are a huge step in the right direction in efforts to fight climate change, there is an equally important need to integrate building well-being design along with energy savings strategies. Innovative approaches to the human experience in building design are an essential part of fostering productivity and innovation. Johnson Controls Headquarters Asia-Pacific in Shanghai is a great case study in combining energy efficiency, building well-being design, and smart technology.

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The Healing Power of Green Spaces

Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospice Entrance garden. Image © Gensler & Luxigon.

Over the last decade, there has been a renewed awareness in the role of designed natural environments and health. This becomes extremely important in environments like healthcare facilities, where patients’ physical or psychological well-being is impaired. As Roger Ulrich documented in his paper, “Health benefits of gardens in hospitals” in 2002: “3-5 minutes in nature or viewing natural scenery can help patients in hospitals recover faster by reducing the physiological indicators of stress, improving mood and aiding in healing.” The healthcare community is looking at adopting integrated care systems in which outdoor healing and therapeutic gardens are an essential complement to the indoor treatments.

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Designing Innovative Solutions for Chronic Homelessness

Image © Gensler

Homelessness is on the rise in the United States for the first time since 2010, with both Los Angeles and the entire state of California hit particularly hard by what has become a full-blown humanitarian crisis. Los Angeles witnessed a 20 percent increase in the number of people experiencing homelessness from 2016 to 2017. We know how to solve, or at least greatly reduce, chronic homelessness in Los Angeles: Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH). So what’s stopping us from creating more PSH? Why is it taking so long and costing so much? The simple answer is that we need to start constructing these projects concurrently instead of one at a time, and with a unified strategy.

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Hooray for Hollywood: Cities on Film

Fritz Lang’s “Metropolis” (courtesy of Flickr).

Author and social critic Oscar Wilde observed that “Life imitates art far more than art imitates life.” But when it comes to cities, art (cinema and now video) has imitated life on screens big and small for almost a century. The vision of urban life also reverberates through new cities in Asia and the Middle East.

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