A NEW ERA OF
HUMAN EXPERIENCE

The resiliency and innovation we’ve witnessed across industries has given us a roadmap for how to move forward.

Atlantic Park, Virginia Beach, Va.

We’re setting a new stage for how we live now.

In the past two years, the world has faced generational challenges. Lives have been changed, and that change is here to stay. And yet, optimism is in the air.

Design has offered innovative solutions to many of the challenges we’ve been facing, and the resiliency and innovation we’ve witnessed across industries have given us a roadmap for how to move forward. Our resourcefulness is slowly but surely lifting the heavy veil of the pandemic.

We’re not in the clear yet. Global instability, climate change, and social inequity remain difficult challenges, while the longer impacts of COVID — supply chain issues, labor shortages, and inflation — are driving competition as the world learns to live with some form of the virus for the foreseeable future.

While we are being confronted with tough new realities, we see a bright future ahead. It’s a future where human experience is defined through the power design in the spaces we frequent, the communities in which we live together, and the air we breathe. Real estate is the stage on which life is lived, and because of that, its value is directly tied to how we experience the spaces where we live, work, and play. The path forward is the one designed with people at the center.

The impacts of COVID continue to disrupt the global supply chain and transform the workplace.

With the pandemic entering its third year, we’re beginning to see new impacts of the virus, including supply chain issues, labor shortages, and inflation — all of which are driving competition for materials, talent, and resources like never before.

Across industries and time zones, our clients are facing delays and bottlenecks in the shipping of construction materials and furnishings for their properties. This is resulting in construction delays and ballooning costs. At Gensler, we are taking action to improve the long-term resilience and sustainability of the building industry supply chain by developing a new blueprint for specifying quality, low-carbon products. These new “green specifications” prioritize materials that reduce construction-related emissions, and promote locally extracted and manufactured materials.

This initiative will help businesses avoid the fallout of unexpected bottlenecks by creating new systems that help to ensure the long-term health of our clients’ portfolios with properties that already meet emerging safety, health, compliance, sustainability, and insurance requirements.

3x
Top-performing companies are three times as likely to increase their real estate footprint.
Organon, Jersey City, N.J.
In the war for talent, the workplace must appeal to new and existing employees as a destination rather than an obligation. Gensler designed Organon’s activity-based-workplace with a variety of settings and features to support employee needs, choice, and flexibility during COVID.

Never has there been a greater opportunity for the building industry to act on climate change.

Extreme weather events — including heatwaves, droughts, and floods — are now commonplace, and the grave impact of climate change will continue to have a profound impact on human life.

For those of us in the real estate sector, rising sea levels and extreme weather events are also putting property portfolios at risk. Even so, many in the industry have yet to admit that buildings are as responsible for carbon as cars.

The Gensler Cities Climate Challenge (GC3) is our commitment to achieving carbon neutrality in all our work within a decade. It is also a rallying cry to our industry, our clients, and our colleagues.

The real estate industry makes up 39% of global carbon emissions when accounting for construction and building performance. Most carbon reduction efforts in the building sector have focused on operational efficiency, but we can no longer ignore that building materials account for half of a building’s total lifetime carbon footprint. To become carbon neutral, we need to eliminate or offset the impact of both operating and embodied energy.

The Old Post Office, Chicago (rooftop)
The Old Post Office, Chicago (rooftop)
Adapting and reusing existing buildings is a critical step on the path a net zero future. Chicago’s Old Post Office, designed by Gensler and Hoerr Schaudt Landscape Architects, is the largest adaptive reuse project in the U.S. By reusing the existing structure and materials, we saved 87% of construction waste from the landfill.

Design will be the instrument of change in our cities and spaces.

We believe that design has the power to transform lives. The challenges we face now are not new, but they have taken on a new sense of clarity and urgency because of the context in which we face them.

Over half the world’s population now lives in cities. This massive shift will continue, so that by 2050 almost 70% of people will live in major urban centers around the world. This influx, combined with the impacts of COVID, climate change, and issues around social equity, have led to new scrutiny of urban life. According to the Gensler Research Institute’s City Pulse Survey, less than half of the people we surveyed in 15 locations felt optimistic about their city’s future.

To position themselves as places where people want to live, cities must embrace design as a way to create better experiences. Only then will we be able to create convenient and walkable 20-minute neighborhoods, healthy green spaces that promote wellness, buildings that have low-carbon footprints, and connected communities that embrace inclusivity for everyone.

Design is unique in its ability to address changing expectations and tackle the toughest challenges facing cities. We know we can make a difference. As we help our clients address climate change, social equity, supply chain issues, and labor shortages, we have to be smarter and more purposeful than ever before, and laser-focused design for the human experience.

The challenges cities face now are not new, but they have taken on a new sense of clarity and urgency because of the context in which we face them.
49%
Only 49% of people feel optimistic about their city’s future.
Fifth + Broadway, Nashville, Tenn.
This entertainment district in the rising city of Nashville addresses some of what people want from their cities: convenience, community, and accessibility. Fifth + Broadway weaves together a mixed-use ecosystem of workplace, residential, sports and music venues, restaurants, and retail.