Designing For Impact

As we enter 2024, we continue to ask how we can help our clients thrive in times of crisis and change. Economic pressures, geopolitical volatility, climate change, the workplace reset, inclusivity, and the continuing need to manage aging buildings and stranded assets remain top of mind for real estate and building industry leaders.

We believe design has an enormous role to play for our clients — and for the world today. As a discipline, it is unique in its ability to solve problems and create results. Using systems thinking and a compassionate understanding of people’s needs and expectations, designers can make sense of complex challenges to create lasting solutions.

Design also represents hope and healing. As war, social injustice, climate change, and health crises grow more acute, people desperately want more connection and community. In places like Ukraine, where Gensler is working with the mayors of Mariupol and Irpin to rebuild their cities, people are looking to design to help them create a future that turns the page on a violent past and honors the people and places they loved before the invasion. This is the impact design can offer. It is a universal language that can build common ground and make a positive impact.

Design for a Radically Changing World

As the world’s most innovative design firm, we see first-hand the transformation that design can make on the human experience. Nowhere is this truer than in the world’s cities in which we work. Today, more people are living in cities than anywhere else on the planet. Cities are complex, and the impacts of any single issue can affect tens of millions of people. We urgently need to redesign our cities, rethink how people connect, and address mobility problems, climate change, infrastructure, and housing.

The past few years have also taught us that the only way to make real impact happen is to inspire and take the lead to help people see a future that’s more compelling and exciting than the past. This is why we wrote our book, “Design for a Radically Changing World.” We wanted to capture the idea that by uniting creativity, imagination, and innovation, we use design to drive positive change. “Design for a Radically Changing World” shows the impact of design on our everyday lives and offers innovative solutions for the most challenging issues we face.

Burlingame Point, Burlingame, California. Exterior view.
Burlingame Point, Burlingame, California

8 Key Global Design Trends Driving Significant Change

While the topics covered in the book represent our vision for how design must change to meet generational challenges, this year’s Design Forecast® contains the advice, research, and ideas that our clients need to know right now, and in the year to come. The “8 Trends Shaping Design in 2024” are what we see as the most important signals and key opportunities in the building industry today.

Our 2024 Design Forecast also reflects the transformation we’ve been going through as a firm. We’ve added four new practice areas, bringing our total to 33, and three new offices, for a total of 53 in 16 countries. The new practice areas include Build to Suit & Headquarters, Entertainment, Industrial & Logistics, and Mobility & Transportation. Trends, project photography, and research for all four are included in this year’s Design Forecast.

The Link Building Reposition. Interior view of coffee bar.
The Link Building Reposition, Phoenix, DW Capital Partners

Design Transformation

This transformation is a key part of why we’ve been able to meet challenges head on and remain a strong partner to our clients. Design is uniquely valuable in times of change because it can connect and unify diverse ideas, tools, and approaches. We have an enormous opportunity to address the crises we face — but only if we’re willing to use our innate creativity and problem-solving abilities to think bigger and lead with bold new initiatives.

Generative AI has introduced new possibilities. Our designers are embracing the technology as a collaboration tool to accelerate new ideas and open the door to new talent and new opportunities. In addition, by committing to lowering the carbon impact of our projects, we’re leading the industry with sustainable design strategies and initiatives. Our Gensler Cities Climate Challenge (GC3) roadmap is helping our clients and the industry take immediate steps and our Gensler Product Sustainability (GPS) Standards is helping to provide a bigger market to low-carbon interior materials. Finally, equitable design considerations are baked into all our projects to address the complex interconnection between the built environment, injustice, and inequality.

By diversifying our expertise, focusing on our clients’ needs, and transforming the way we design, we’ve been able to weather economic shifts. This allows us to continue to grow leaders, move into new markets, and scale our impact.

A group of people in a room.
Adobe Founders Tower, San Jose, California

Leadership in Times of Change

Gensler’s unique co-leadership model has also been vital to our success in recent years. With two individuals in leadership positions across the firm, we have seen innovation thrive. We believe creativity ignites when people with diverse backgrounds come together to lead collaboratively. This approach has propelled our growth, and it has elevated our ability to take on complex design challenges in over 140 countries with 3,500 clients across the globe.

As the world and the design industry transform to meet the moment, so too must our leadership platform. The opportunities to connect design to climate action, ESG, attainable housing, immersive multidimensional experience design, the emergence of AI, and more are too great to ignore. To enable the firm’s engagement with these new opportunities and challenges, we have decided to broaden our leadership structure.

After nearly 20 years of serving as Co-CEOs of Gensler, we are proud to announce our election by our Board of Directors as the first Global Co-Chairs of Gensler, effective January 1, 2024. In this new position for the firm, we will focus on expanding the firm’s global reach, broadening our impact, adding new practice offerings and services, and enhancing key global client relationships.

We are equally proud to announce Jordan Goldstein and Julia Simet as the next Co-CEOs of Gensler. These two dynamic leaders have each been with the firm for nearly 30 years and, in anticipation of this transition, have served as Co-Firm Managing Principals since early 2021. With so much opportunity and important work before us, this is exactly the right time for this transition. Julia and Jordan will maintain responsibility for the day-to-day operations and hands-on oversight of the firm, including our regions and offices, practice areas, client relationships, and our brand and culture.

Our transformational approach to design is the reason that we emerge stronger from every downturn, from every economic dip, and from every crisis. Along the way, we’ve learned that what people want is experience. Whether a sports stadium, airport, hotel, or office of the future, the spirit of every project is the human experience. We’re more equipped now than ever before to design for impact and help our clients navigate every challenge.

Insights and Industry Trends by Expertise