A man with a beard.

Remembering Ed Friedrichs,
A Visionary and Mentor to All

We are saddened to announce the passing of Ed Friedrichs, a visionary, thought leader, and champion of culture who helped shape the firm into what it is today. Ed joined Gensler in 1969, founded our Los Angeles office, and served as President and CEO of Gensler from 1995 until his retirement in 2003. Ed’s legacy is his strategic leadership that broadened our practice through innovation and cultivated a place for our people to thrive.

Ed’s influence on the Gensler we know today is hard to overstate. He codified the firm’s culture by writing the first set of core values, coining the term “constellation of stars,” starting the Super Meeting, and launching Gensler University. He also championed the firm’s spirit of innovation by driving an early strategic focus on sustainability, launching our first research initiatives, and creating the Practice Area structure. Most importantly, Ed was a mentor and a friend to all and will be missed.

Ed Friedrichs, FAIA, studied engineering and architecture at Stanford and the University of Pennsylvania in the early 60s, joining Gensler in 1969 after striking up a conversation with Art Gensler after a City Council meeting in Tiburon, California. Ed was “employee number 22,” as he liked to say. During the early 70s, Ed was part of the Board of Directors, which included Art, Tony Harbour, and Margo Grant Walsh. In 1976, he and his family moved to Los Angeles to open our Gensler office there. He helped grow the L.A. office from 11 people in a shared office suite in Beverly Hills to more than 100.

Ed led the L.A. office’s growth into a regional powerhouse. He helped launch and expand our Entertainment, Aviation & Transportation, and Planning practices with studio work, terminals at LAX and Orange County, and a monorail for Las Vegas. In 1995, 25 years after moving to L.A., Ed returned to San Francisco to take on the role of President. His role expanded to President and CEO in 2000. He co-led our firm in that capacity through 2003.

In 1993, he spearheaded an initiative to capture Gensler’s mission and values. “When we were starting to grow after the recession, we realized that we had never documented our values as a cohesive set of behaviors,” he said. Ed traveled to different offices to talk to dozens of Gensler people about what they thought our values were, which he jotted down in a notebook. Those notes were distilled into the firm’s core values that were printed in a tri-fold card and shared broadly across the firm.

One of the core values Ed identified early on was the idea that Gensler would be a “constellation of stars.” Ed, Art, and others knew that the success of Gensler would not be because of any one person, but because a people-first idea and attitude would survive into the next generation.

After his retirement in 2003, Ed started the Ed Friedrichs Group to advise various firms about strategic leadership, organizational issues, and culture and values. He served on the Boards of Glumac, Miyamoto International, the San Francisco Bay Area Council for the Boy Scouts of America, and Penn Design, the graduate school of architecture, planning, and design at the University of Pennsylvania. A gifted writer and speaker, his books include Long-Cycle Strategies for a Short Cycle World.

He was also a passionate motorcyclist. He rode across the U.S., Europe, New Zealand, and Canada and wrote a book about motorcycling called Liberation: Searching for Myself and the World Around Me on a Motorcycle.

Ed was loved by many across our firm, and we share in their sadness at this news. We have all benefited from his amazing legacy. Ed passed away peacefully at home on Thursday, May 13th, and is survived by his wife Margaret and her sons John and Jason; daughter Gillian, her husband Jim, and their daughter Evelynne; and son Ted, his wife Marianne, and their daughters Annika and Gioia.

Ed’s life and legacy lives on at Gensler, just as he envisioned.

Read statements from Gensler co-CEOs Andy Cohen and Diane Hoskins remembering Ed's impact on the firm.