Gensler's Downtown LA headquarters

Gensler's Downtown LA headquarters

Inside Gensler’s planned office in Los Angeles.
Courtesy Gensler

Architect: Gensler
Client: Gensler
Location: 525 South Flower Street, Los Angeles
Completion: Fall 2011

Architecture giant Gensler has announced its move to downtown Los Angeles after 20 years in Santa Monica. The firm recently signed a 12-year lease to occupy the top two floors of the three-floor “jewel box” that sits between two 52-story towers at City National Plaza.

A six-month study led by the firm’s Strategy & Brand Design Studio director Lance Carlson found that most of the work at Gensler was done in groups rather than in “focused, heads down work.” As a result, the firm’s current H-shaped office layout, which effectively compartmentalized teams, will give way to a more open and transparent layout built for group work. Gensler is amping the number of collaborative spaces from eight to 30 in the Jewel Box. Conference rooms and collaborative areas will be placed at the nucleus, while more private spaces will be at the fringes.

The firm plans to convert its two floors into three by adding a mezzanine level that will hang from the top floor, and a large central atrium to allow sunlight to stream from the 30-foot by 50-foot skylight, creating what LA office Managing Director Rob Jernigan calls a “vertical connectivity zone”. This zone creates more opportunities for interaction. “You’ll be able to look across one or two floors down and see each other, even call out, ‘Hey, John! Come up here!’” said Jernigan.

While Gensler plans to maintain the jewel box’s 1970s architectural style, it will take advantage of the building’s 100-foot wide and 30-foot high windows to create a splashy interior, making use of bright colors, especially the firm’s signature red, meant to draw eyes inward. “We want people to see the building and think unequivocally ‘Oh, that’s the Gensler building,’” said Jernigan. The design team is also using parametric software to generate surface patterns on aluminum, which will be laser cut and used as a feature wall in the new office.

Gensler is fast tracking construction of the space. Steel has already been bought for the new floor addition and the building’s reinforcements are being upgraded to take the additional load. According to Jernigan, construction should be finished by mid-October, and ready for move-in by November.