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Gensler Voices: Courtney Albracht on Shaping the Future

This Q&A is part of a series of interviews with Gensler architects, designers, and others in the firm about their career journey, and the impact that design and architecture can have on our communities and the human experience. Here, we sit down with Courtney Albracht, an interior designer in our Minneapolis office:

How were you first introduced to architecture and design?  

Growing up I excelled at art and jumped at any opportunity to build things. In 6th grade I handed my mom a floor plan on graph paper proposing what my own room would look like if I moved downstairs. I then told a friend about how I was designing my new room. She mentioned this TV network I had never heard of, HGTV. I was captivated by watching spaces transform. I became fascinated by floor plans; trying to figure out how they got translated into what the houses looked like in 3D.

I met an architect at a career fair as a senior in high school and had the opportunity to visit their office and a construction site to learn more. But I wasn’t exposed to what architecture and design truly encompassed until studying at Kansas State’s Collage of Architecture, Planning & Design. I loved discovering the ability design has to solve complex problems and improve people’s lives.

Did you have a mentor growing up or at any point during your career? If so, how did that relationship impact your growth as a person or in the industry at large?

My parents instilled in me the value of kindness, hard work and continual learning. All of which have been extremely useful as a designer. Coming from a family of educators, nurturing my sense of curiosity has allowed me to lean into understanding the variety of problems and the people we design for. At Gensler, it has been great to be surrounded by people who have that same passion, readily impart knowledge, and share ideas.

I’ve had multiple mentors during my time at Gensler that have helped me expand my network and reach. I’ve developed my soft skills by taking tips from each mentor and implementing in a way that feel authentic to me. The support and advocacy I’ve received from them has helped me grow into the designer I am today.

How do diverse backgrounds and experiences make Gensler a better design firm?

I’ve seen how a diverse range of team members helps create a more empathetic work environment, and a place where people feel empowered to bring their strength to the table. Multiple perspectives and new ways of thinking are key to creating innovative design solutions that positively impact people. Understanding the communities we serve is essential in making that impact. So, what better place to start than a diverse design team?

If you could impart any piece of advice to individuals beginning their design career, what would it be?

No matter how small, strive to make each project great. There’s always something to learn or a new idea you can bring. Building a solid foundation will allow you to dive right into future projects.

And travel! Get exposure to new places. Find inspiration in different people and experiences.

What are you most excited for when it comes to the future of architecture and design?

I’m excited to see the effect architecture and design can have on climate change and the resiliency of the future. We truly have a hand in helping shape the future of our cities and people’s experiences. And to effectively measure that success and tell those stories - how powerful. I think educating the general public on the value of our profession and design thinking is key to expanding the cultural impact design can have.

What is your favorite Gensler project?

The Gensler Minneapolis office, or our workshop. Working in a beautiful space you want to be in; it really does make an impact.

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