Gensler's Birthday Boys!
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They’ve always been wise of course, but now they have the age to prove it. Gensler co-CEO Andy Cohen, right, and Southwest region chief Rob Jernigan are turning, ahem, two-times-30 this year.
Although we find their math hard to believe, Andy claims to have started at the firm 34 years ago. From the Bronx via the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, he previously had Rob’s job but 10 years ago became part of the triumvirate that runs Gensler worldwide. Of course Andy should be senior, since Rob is the newbie, from Atlanta by way of Houston, who arrived at Gensler a mere 18 years ago. No matter, they’re now indistinguishable as just aging surfer dudes.
As many projects as they oversee, their own building has been a big part of their lives. They moved to the 38k SF former Bank of America building just three years ago. What was known as “the jewel box” had sat vacant for nine years, but Gensler was persuaded to uproot from Colorado Place in Santa Monica, imagining how adaptive reuse could make it a showcase for the creative workplace of the future. At the time they thought their 250 employees might be rattling around in too big a facility. Now they’re up to 500 and have to use space in adjacent buildings as well. But observers think both their redesign and physical presence has been a catalyst for the resurgence of Downtown.
Andy feels the space demonstrates to clients what you can do with existing buildings that have been given up on: They’ve made it LEED Platinum and created a central atrium “that’s an innovation hub, all about collaboration” with studios for quiet refuge off to the side. They also take advantage of glass to admit lots of light and give them beautiful views. Once a month they use the cavernous interior to invite the public in for early morning talks by major figures—they’ve had writer Malcolm Gladwell and financier Bill Gross and in April will welcome management guru Jack Welch. They even had the LA ballet dance before them. 350 can spread out on the stairs and built-in bleachers, though you can listen in via Live Talks LA.
In a special lab, Rob shows us an experiment they green-lighted a group of fresh college grads to do: modeling 3D printers on drones, which in theory could hover over work sites and build large projects. Back down on earth, Andy loves the convenience of the office. Two of his favorite restaurants are on their own building’s ground floor, Drago and Chaya, and he’s walking distance to his beloved Laker and Clipper games. Of course, given offices in 46 cities around the world, Andy also travels—100 days a year, like a trip he just got back from to NY. Although he didn’t mind—it’s not only where he’s from, but his daughter lives in the East Village. Age 60 is not slowing these guys down. And maybe it’s appropriate; this seems to be a golden age for Gensler, too.