AIASD Member News: Gensler Featured in the SD Union Tribune, Redesigning San Diego, from north to south
Gensler, San Francisco’s largest architectural firm, is quietly remaking San Diego , judging by a raft of megaprojects on its plate.
It’s responsible for redesigning the proposed redevelopment of the Qualcomm Stadium site, the downtown Navy Broadway Complex and Harbor Island rental car lots. It also is involved in Chula Vista’s Otay Ranch commercial development, new buildings at local major universities and consulting with the county and city governments on their office needs.
Its 100-member local office, ranked a close second locallyto rival firm Carrier Johnson + Culture, also is working on continued expansion of Lindbergh Field terminals, and county and city governments office needs.Last year, it designed the Union-Tribune’s downtown offices at 600 B St.
“This is probably one of the most exciting times to be in San Diego,” said managing director Kevin Heinly. “So many incredible properties are up for redevelopment and they will redefine the city for the next century.”
Besides its active project list, Gensler has another point of pride to boast about. It’s just relocated into the former NBC-Channel 7 studios in first two floors of the office tower at 225 Broadway, where it previously occupied parts of three upper floors, and showed off its digs at a grand opening Wednesday.
Highlights include an outdoor terrace overlooking Broadway and Horton Plaza park and the second floor employee lounge, complete with a “living room” and its chess board, TV, couch and, nearby, a period Eames lounge and Nelson bubble lamp. He said the overall design takes its inspiration from the building’s mid-1970s minimalist look.
However, artful splashes include a “Gensler Red”-painted support I-beam and repurposed window mullions, refashioned into an art piece above the reception desk to represent San Diego’s downtown skyline.
But the space is far cry from the cubicles and private offices common in those days. There’s a special virtual reality room, where architects can get “inside” their artist’s renderings and computer-generated images; adjustable standup desktops; and an 1,800-square-foot product and samples library, triple the previous space.
To promote collaboration and team work, there are long, common-area tables, white boards, pin-up boards and small conference rooms (named for streets and landmarks surrounding the building). The lobby is big enough to host public events and presentations. And, in keeping with promoting teamwork, there’s only a handful of private offices, so mangers and executives will be more likely found roaming the floor chatting up architects and designers.
For employee comfort, louvered windows have been installed to let in natural air, signaled by a green light around the corner from the lobby. There are lockers and showers available to staffers for the first time and a small fleet of red bicycles (Heinly used one recently to get to a construction site). Though it’s a global firm, the Gensler office stocks local coffee beans from WestBean Coffee Roasters, located across Broadway.
The “Gensler” in Gensler is M. Arthur Gensler, 81, who founded the firm in the Bay Area in 1965 with an emphasis on interior design. By 2000 Steve Jobs hired him to design the prototype for Apple Stores.
Today Gensler, the firm, counts more than 5,000 employees in 45 offices in the U.S. and around the world. Some of its best-known projects include San Francisco International Airport terminals, the 4-million-square-foot Shanghai Tower office building and Facebook’s headquarters in Menlo Park. Due to open next year is the Banc of California Stadium for the Los Angeles Football Club, a Major League Soccer expansion franchise team.
Heinly, 49, developed his interest in architecture while growing up in Lancaster, Penn., where he helped his lawyer father restore farmhouses and barns. He joined Gensler in 1998 after working at various firms in the Los Angeles area and came to the San Diego office eight years ago. He lives with his wife and 11-year-old son in a Point Loma house designed by the late, mid-century-modern architect Homer Delawie.
“I think our responsibility as architects and designers and to our community is to make great places,” Heinly said, “uniquely San Diegan and not something that has been imported from someplace else.”
One direction Gensler is investigating is 3-D printed buildings. It’s already possible to “print” a concrete component of a building, a system that could help remote areas recover from natural disasters.
In other applications, construction might not cost less using 3-D printers, but they might save time and hence financing costs and speed up an opening date and thus the payback period.
“It’s in its infancy,” Heinly said.
Gensler projects in San Diego
(completed unless otherwise noted)
Cal State San Marcos field house expansion
Fifth Avenue Landing hotel, downtown San Diego (proposed)
Harbor Island East redevelopment (OliverMcMillan proposal)
Lindbergh Field Terminal 2 (ongoing)
Museum of Photographic Arts lobby, Balboa Park
San Diego civic center office plans, downtown San Diego (ongoing)
San Diego County reuse study of old courthouse (analysis)
Schwartz Federal Courthouse remodel (ongoing), downtown
Southwestern College DeVore Stadium and field house and wellness and aquatic center (completion Dec. 2017)
Sunroad Centrum office building, Kearny Mesa (proposed)
SoccerCity, Mission Valley (proposed)
Manchester Pacific Gateway, downtown (demolition under way)
TaylorMade-Adidas Golf and Ashworth offices and showroom, Carlsbad
Think office building at Millenia, Chula Vista’s Otay Ranch (approved)
Township 14 offices for Latham & Watkins, Del Mar Heights
UC San Diego east campus office building and and Triton Ballpark