About GenslerOnWork

GenslerOnWork examines the modern workplace and how design can help us become more engaged and productive as we earn our livings.

Search GenslerOn
Work Topics
Connect with Us
« How Can the Workplace Impact Innovation? | Main | When Culture Outpaces Code: A Design Perspective on All-Gender Restrooms »

A Creative Downtown L.A.: Gensler Introduces Downtown’s First Vertical Urban Creative Campus

Image © Gensler

It’s hard for many of us at Gensler Los Angeles to believe that we are about to hit our five year anniversary of moving into our offices in the heart of Downtown L.A. Being a part of the tremendous resurgence of Downtown has provided our entire team with inspiration, energy and a renewed sense of civic pride. Our presence has inspired so many of our employees to relocate, commuting on foot and on public transit, walking to client meetings and volunteering our time to make Downtown L.A. a better place.

Our commitment to Downtown Los Angeles has created an increased level of civil awareness and has helped us realize the impact we can have on the urban environment. This interest has created numerous community-led research projects that use design to solve urban challenges right here in our neighborhood, including the Pershing Square Town Square initiative, an analysis of Downtown’s traffic and parking patterns, homeless shelters, and major urban planning projects, such as Metropolis and L.A. Live.

We are incredibly excited to have recently announced the next step in the development of our Downtown Los Angeles workspace, which is now underway and is slated to be complete in February 2017. Gensler L.A. will no longer be just a groundbreaking creative office; we are about to transform into the first vertical urban creative campus in Downtown Los Angeles. We will be connecting our existing three-level atrium building to the adjacent office tower, transforming two floors into flexible, connective, and 95,000 square foot creative office space for our teams and repositioning the entire property’s public amenity spaces into a compelling urban social hub right at our front door.

Image © Gensler

The entire city block will become a new type of urban space—part public plaza, part social lounge, part outdoor coffee bar, part pop-up happy hour. It is a big challenge, but one that really builds on our inherent creativity, our love of experimentation and our strong commitment to Downtown’s urban environment. We are sure that our new workspace will prove that great design can enable stairs, bridges and often overlooked shared spaces to truly connect our diverse creative teams across a non-traditional, vertical campus.

We have always considered our Gensler L.A. workspace to be a lab for innovation, so we are constantly trying out new configurations, new mock ups and new products. When we realized that our growth had led to some teams feeling disconnected from one another, we knew we had to do something to fix it. So we rolled up our sleeves and started a research, outreach and planning period that lasted over a year. We conducted all-staff meetings and surveys, employee workshops, studio meetings and several design reviews in order to make sure we truly understood what our different teams needed and how we could best enhance our unique culture while supporting distinct workstyles. We also took the opportunity to push our design process, utilizing virtual reality technology to help our designers envision the space and enable a more meaningful and fruitful design dialogue. And now that we are about to start construction, we are using our virtual reality headsets to give more of our teams a glimpse of what they can expect in the future.

Image © Gensler

The heart of the campus is a connection zone that runs through both existing and new spaces and includes the bridge between the two buildings. Along this zone we have chosen to emphasize the importance of craft and exploration in our work by highlighting a new model shop and gallery, as well as supporting team collaboration and knowledge sharing with a variety of large conference rooms, smaller meeting cabins and nooks, and flexible team review areas. We are also creating spaces that add to the wellbeing of our employees, including wellness rooms; hydration areas; an outdoor meeting patio; an earth bar for coffee and healthy snacks; quiet work rooms and multipurpose spaces that can be used for weekly yoga and meditation classes, as well as the community service initiatives that are so important to our culture. Design studios will have flexible workspace that they can customize for their individual needs. We’ve designed some innovative furniture solutions for storage, layout and pin-up, which designers can never have enough of.

We are deeply committed to the vibrancy of our community, and we are excited to introduce the first vertical urban campus in Downtown Los Angeles. Our hope is that this will be the first of many more to come.

Michael White, AIA, IIDA is a managing director and principal at Gensler Los Angeles. Drawing on his extensive expertise in architectural design, real estate consulting and development, Michael has built a reputation as a leading strategic planner and design innovator in creative workplace campus environments. Michael leads Gensler’s global Media and Technology Practice Areas, where he is responsible for some of today’s most innovative workplaces in these industries. Contact him at Michael_White@Gensler.com.
Elizabeth Brink, LEED® AP BD+C, EDAC is a Consulting practice area leader and principal at Gensler Los Angeles. Elizabeth works with innovative companies to create and implement high-performance, people-focused workplaces that leverage both changing technologies and shifting employee expectations. With a professional background that combines architecture, communications, user research and business strategy, Elizabeth leads teams that focus on developing real estate and workplace strategies to support businesses and communities. Contact her at Elizabeth_Brink@Gensler.com.