Gensler University Team Colombia: Scott Vittorelli, Maja Nesdale, Christian Wolff, Evan Gu, Robert Fuller, Ken Poole, and Rob Allen.
Gensler University Team Colombia: Scott Vittorelli, Maja Nesdale, Christian Wolff, Evan Gu, Robert Fuller, Ken Poole, and Rob Allen.

Gensler Partners with the City of Bogotá on Community Center Initiative

Bogotá, Colombia, is a connected, global city. And like all great cities, its continued success relies on improving both its physical and social infrastructure. In late 2015 and early 2016, Gensler University, the firm’s key leadership training program, partnered with the city to conceptualize how its new leadership could achieve its ambitious goals of strengthening communities and enhancing the lives of the city’s inhabitants through interventions in the built environment.

Through early discussions with stakeholders, it became clear that the opportunity to learn, socialize, and connect in Bogotá’s at-risk communities is limited when compared to the rest of the city. As part of the program, dubbed the Community Center Initiative, the Gensler University team focused on developing a program and designing a prototype for community facilities that offer residents opportunities to stay healthy and grow through education, physical activity, and community engagement.

After several weeks researching innovative community facility precedents from around the globe, the Gensler team visited Bogotá in January 2016 and held an interactive workshop with local officials. The group discussed the overall vision for the project, identified the most underserved communities, and began to explore potential building sites.

The workshop in Bogotá was followed by a design charette with Gensler’s top design talent in our Costa Rica office. During the charette, the team discussed important design considerations, such as transit connectivity, vehicular and pedestrian circulation, programming and space requirements, flexibility, materiality, sustainability, and community engagement.

Over the following months, the team further developed the project while obtaining additional input and expertise from relevant practice areas around the firm, including the Sports practice, which advised on the technical aspects of building and maintaining athletic facilities.

The result of Gensler’s work was a comprehensive document that summarized the team’s research, outlined their findings, and put forward detailed recommendations to make certain these facilities fit with their surroundings, both physically and culturally. The team also emphasized the importance of community engagement throughout the process to help ensure the outcomes were sustainable over the long term and have the highest level of positive impact. Together, these materials provide a road map to help Bogotá’s officials as they embark on this ambitious and inspiring initiative.

The development of Gensler’s future leaders through programs like Gensler University is among the best investments the firm can make. Our firm is known for its culture of learning, innovation, and collaboration, which enables us to be the best designers for our clients. The leadership development programs are synonymous with this culture.

As an annual program, Gensler University focuses on partnering with groups in cities where the firm may open an office to better understand the local culture and business environment while actively engaging with local communities.