In Tribute to Our Founder, Art Gensler
Joseph Brancato, FAIA
Chairman, Regional Managing Principal
Samuel Bermúdez, RA
Co-Regional Managing Principal
Brittany Valle, NCIDQ
Global Account Director, Senior Associate
May 2022 marked one year since the passing of our founder, Art Gensler, at the age of 85. Art co-founded the firm with his wife Drue, and James Follett, in San Francisco in 1965, and it has since grown into the largest architecture and design firm in the world.
It is impossible to express the profound impact Art made on our careers and our lives. His gift to the firm was a culture that allowed it to grow and prosper. That culture was distinguished by a belief in collaboration, support of design education and career advancement, respect for individuals, endorsement of sustainable design, and a willingness to give everyone a financial stake in the business. All these values blended to form our unique and lasting “One-Firm Firm” family.
In this episode of the Gensler Design Exchange podcast, Joe Brancato, Regional Managing Principal for Gensler’s Northeast and Latin America regions, and Chairman of the Gensler Board of Directors, sits with Sam Bermúdez, a Regional Managing Principal in our Costa Rica office, and Brittany Valle, a Global Account Director in our Charlotte office, to discuss how Art’s life and legacy live on through the firm’s people and our work with our clients.
02:38 Joe describes meeting Art Gensler, and the lasting impression Art left on him.
04:33 Joe recalls his first big pitch at Gensler, and what he learned from Art about hiring talent.
“Art was a people person. He loved people, and he thrived on seeing them do well … He hired the best people, and then got out of their way so that they could perform.”
— Joe Brancato
06:01 Sam shares his experience being tapped to lead the new Costa Rica office at the age of 26, and how Art’s entrepreneurial spirit and encouragement gave him the confidence to lead.
09:24 Sam tells how Art’s principles translate to Latin America and beyond.
“One of my favorite Art quotes is ‘We can’t be global if we’re not local first.’ To me, this sums up the respect we have for doing business across geographies, but how we’re always looking to make an impact locally before anything else. It helps everyone connect, regardless of where they are in the firm.”
— Sam Bermúdez
12:05 Joe shares a story about Art’s masterful management and cultivation of one of Gensler’s largest and oldest client relationships, Bank of America.
15:36 Brittany describes her experience leading the Bank of America account, and how the Gensler culture created by Art emboldened her approach.
18:13 Brittany shares how she thinks about Art’s legacy in the work she does every day, and an experience she had first meeting Art in 2019.
“Client relationships were so central to Art’s core, and my role in the firm lives and breathes this aspect of his legacy. I feel so fortunate to be able to have a role that embodies something that I love and believe in, as well.”
— Brittany Valle
20:11 Brittany and Sam share what aspects of Art’s leadership have had the biggest impact on their work.
22:23 Joe ends with the importance of quality leadership, and how Art’s approach reflects that of some of the most vibrant companies in the world.
Tune in to hear the full conversation. As always, thanks for listening!