A man in a suit.

Gensler Voices: Jonathan Plass on How Listening Can Bring Inspiration

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 Jonathan Plass, a design analyst in our Washington, D.C. office:

How were you first introduced to architecture and design?

I was introduced to architecture when I first laid eyes on the Fifth Avenue Apple store. I was eleven at the time and seeing nothing but a glass cube and a glowing Apple logo on our approach my brain quickly wondered where the actual store was. After going inside I asked my mother who did this and she told me that architects design buildings. It was at this moment I knew I had to be an architect because if they could make a glass cube with an Apple logo and call it a building they could do anything. You can read the full story on my blog here.

What unique perspective and experience do you bring to Gensler?

It’s been said that great design goes unnoticed. This does not mean that great design does not exist, but rather that great design takes the backseat to immersive experiences when done right. On the contrary bad design makes it almost impossible to enjoy what otherwise would have been an incredible experience.

Where do you get your design inspiration from?

Listening. I think a great architect is more of a listener than a designer. To produce a truly successful project an architect must listen to the site, the client, the contractor, building codes, the engineering consultants and coordinate between their diverse demands creating common ground. So the people and place of the project are always my inspiration.

How do you continue learning throughout your career?

Always listening. I truly believe there is something to be learned from every situation and every individual we encounter. Some lessons are easier to hear than others, but if you keep you ear to the ground and your eyes on what’s around you what you were supposed to understand often reveals itself. Sometimes in that moment, and sometimes months after when pondering what that moment could have meant.

What impact do you want to leave on the world?

One piece of the great puzzle of world peace. As world peace or what I like to think of as humanities equilibrium with itself and the planet is a hyper-object or something that spans timescales and disciplines incomprehensible to humans in a single thought or lifetime. I seek simply to contribute one piece to this every evolving and complex puzzle.

What is a daily habit of yours that you swear by?

My 4 A’s. “I am an artist. I am an architect. I am an activist. I am an athlete.” These remind me of my passions, reasoning, humanity, and my health.

For media inquiries, email .