Art Gensler, who’s the world’s largest architecture firm owner, has died aged 85.
Gensler, whose famed practice designed several of the world’s best-known buildings– from terminals at San Francisco International Airport to China’s tallest skyscraper– passed away on Monday at his house in Mill Valley, California, after a battle with a long-term illness, a firm spokesperson confirmed.
Born in New York City in 1936, Art went on to study at Cornell University’s College of Art, Planning, and Architecture– a school that he would finance throughout his career. Earlier this year, he gave $10 million as a gift to the school.
In 1965, Gensler, alongside his business partner James Follett and his wife Drucilla, who died in 2017, founded M. Arthur Gensler Jr. & Associates, Inc. But what started as a small interiors shop soon traversed its scope to span planning, architecture and consulting.
Over the years, Gensler’s company has designed hotels, universities and sports stadia, touching almost every part of the built environment. It has made corporate headquarters for the likes of Blueberry, Hyundai and Facebook, and airports from Michigan, Detroit, to Incheon, South Korea.
The firm has grown into a giant of world architecture, employing thousands of people at offices in 50 cities. In 2019, its profit was more than $1.5 billion– more than double that of the next big firm, according to a report by industry magazine Construction + Building Design.
But while Gensler was famous for transforming the business of architecture, he was also a designer focusing on the user experience. With this philosophy, the company never dismissed its owner’s interior design roots– and was even in charge of pioneering the very first Apple Stores.
His firm is also responsible for constructing the world’s second-tallest building– Shanghai Tower– which rises like a corkscrew more than 2,000 feet into the sky.
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