Student Spotlight: Gensler

I am so excited to be able to bring you yet another student blog post! This comes from Rand a member of IIDA’s Student Task Force. Read below about his Campus Center’s visit to Gensler. If you have story ideas, please submit them to

The Puget Sound IIDA Student Campus Center hosted a tour of Gensler’s new office space in downtown Seattle on January 16th. It was the first event of 2009 for the Campus Center and it was a huge success that brought together over 50 students from different design schools in the region.

Gensler Lobby

Gensler Lobby

Gensler opened its new Seattle office approximately 7 months ago and what a beautiful space to work in! The overall concept was to create a dynamic space that would invite clients in and showcase the design talents of the Gensler team. The feeling when walking to the lobby is like checking into a chic boutique hotel. There are windows everywhere and the firm has a gorgeous view of the park next door.

Recycled Table

Recycled Table

Much thought and effort was put into ensuring that sustainable design strategies were an integral part of the office design. All products used in the firm, including the furniture, are made of recycled content and all materials are formaldehyde-free and low VOC. The floors are the existing concrete floors that have been shined to a beautiful finish and the exposed ceilings add an urban edge that adds to the charm of the space. In the break area, they have a stunning meeting table that is made from recycled wood from a tree chopped down in a local park. I was really impressed with the firm’s dedication to sustainable practices. Even if clients do not make sustainability a priority, the design teams at Gensler incorporate various strategies into the design nonetheless!


After everyone had gathered and we were given a brief introduction of the firm and its practices, we were led on a tour of the firm. Adjacent to the lobby, there are 3 conference rooms; all of which are large and bright. One of the rooms is called the Living Room and it is set up like its namesake. Clients can enter this space and feel immediately comfortable and energized. The sofa and side chairs make for an intimate setting while the bright pink wall treatment and accessories (like the green bicycle!) make the space fun and whimsical.

From there, we moved onto the studio area. The layout is completely open and all of the furniture is kept low to allow you to see the entire space. While everyone has their own workspace, the layout and low furniture profile allow everyone to easily collaborate and share information. The white walls may at first seem an odd choice for a design firm, but it enables the designers to take advantage of the daylight as the sunshine reflects off the bright walls and illuminates the space (yet another sustainable practice!). The walls are adorned with beautiful renderings and sketches and you could literally spend hours walking down the hallways to study and admire the projects. The designers were very proud of their work (as they should be) and spent a great deal of time discussing their projects and answering a barrage of questions from the design students present.


The Gensler tour was a “can’t-miss” event. The designers welcomed us into their firm and made us all feel right at home. The architectural details and beautiful spaces were truly inspiring. It was amazing to listen to the various designers and hear the passion in their voices as they led discussions of their projects. I left the event with a renewed passion for interior design and I suspect I wasn’t the only one feeling that way!

Special thanks to Heidi Sadler, Robert Thomas, Brian van Stipdonk, and Shun Pin Tseng from Gensler for hosting the tour and sharing their insights.



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