Art Gensler, an architect and entrepreneur who turned a small San Francisco architecture firm into one of the largest in the world, with projects spanning the globe, died on May 10 at his home in Mill Valley, Calif. He was 85.
His death was confirmed by Kimberly M. Beals, a spokeswoman.
Mr. Gensler’s most prominent works include the terminals at the San Francisco International Airport and Shanghai Tower, a twisting glass structure that is China’s tallest skyscraper and the second-tallest building in the world, at 632 meters, or 2,073 feet. (The tallest is Burj Khalifa in Dubai, at 2,717 feet.)
Among the firm’s other projects are the 32-story Tower at PNC Plaza in Pittsburgh; the Banc of California Stadium, home of the Major League Soccer expansion team the Los Angeles Football Club; and the Westin DEN Hotel and Transit Center in Denver, combining a transportation hub with airport connections, an open-air plaza and a hotel suggestive of a giant wing about to take flight.
L’Oréal, which commissioned Gensler to design the interior of its 10-floor U.S. headquarters in the new Hudson Yards development in Manhattan.
Mr. Gensler and his wife, Drue Gensler, founded M. Arthur Gensler Jr. & Associates in San Francisco in 1965, teaming up with a business partner, James Follet. The practice started in a one-room office with just $200 in the bank, by the firm’s account.
The firm grew exponentially, ultimately employing thousands of people at offices in 50 cities around the world. The firm’s revenue exceeded $1.5 billion in 2019.
1994 interview with The New York Times, he said his secret to attracting talent was that he had enough self-confidence to hire people smarter than he was.
“I get as much joy out of seeing one of the people I’ve picked do extremely well as I do seeing a building I’ve done,” he said.