Design for a Radically Changing World

Design for a Radically Changing World

Manual of Biogenic House Sections

Manual of Biogenic House Sections

Design for a Radically Changing World

“Design is about impact. It creates the buildings and spaces in which we live, which shape us in profound ways. They are the backdrop against which we play out the stories of our lives.”


It was a sunny spring day when we landed in Tokyo. Just a week prior, we had been in San Francisco for a variety of leadership meetings. Throughout the two decades of our partnership as co-CEOs who live 3,000 miles apart, in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., we have learned to make the most of the times when we are together in person. This was one such opportunity. After the first leg of our two-week whirlwind trip, we flew to Japan to meet with Gensler leaders in Asia. As we rolled through the city streets in a taxi, tired from the intensity of the past week, we started talking about our expectations and excitement about the next few days. Looking back, it was that conversation that began our journey toward writing this book.

Many people say they do their best thinking away from their regular daily activities, and that was probably the catalyst for us as well. Being in that cab, on that day, and in that place, put us in a zone where we both could see the impact our firm was having across cities all over the world more clearly than ever. We experienced a shared “eureka” moment about Gensler’s purpose and the purpose of design, and we had to try to capture it in writing. 

Too often, the idea of design is limited to aesthetics. Design, however, is about impact. It creates the buildings and spaces in which we live, which shape us in profound ways. They are the backdrop against which we play out the stories of our lives. Everything in life happens in a place, and the design of each place can make those experiences beautiful and positive, or degrading and negative.

It’s impossible to separate the most meaningful moments of life from the spaces in which those moments occur. And 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.

To meet this moment, we believe we are witnessing and experiencing the beginning of a new chapter in design, one that reflects humanity’s broader worldview. Design is more than a luxury; design is for everyone. Design is not just for times of stability and abundance. On the contrary, it is a valuable resource during challenging times. Great design results in creative, long-term solutions that can be scaled for a global impact while still resonating at a local level.

As a discipline, design is also a problem solver. We believe that it can play a critical role in tackling complex challenges, from social injustice to climate change, war, and health crises. With systems thinking and people-first compassion, design can make sense of complex and intangible inputs to form outcomes with enduring impact. This is the role of design.


“Design can inspire vision and optimism, while also providing vital functions and responding to complex change.”


Shifts in working, living, and commuting patterns—coupled with a constantly changing economic and technological landscape—are driving a fundamental reconsideration of the purpose, form and value of the workplace. Many of these conversations—from the tension between virtual and in-person collaboration and the rise of remote work, to the challenges of over-densification and universal design—were already underway prior to the COVID pandemic. It was not until the pandemic occurred, however, that the future and design of the workplace became a daily topic of discussion for millions of people all over the world. Work has evolved, so why have too many of the world’s workplaces remained largely unchanged?

We stand today at an unprecedented crossroads in workplace design, where architects and designers can imagine a new future of work and set us on a course for long-term workplace happiness. We must take advantage of this time to be bold and fiercely creative. We can design spaces that are agile enough to endure the next wave of challenges and flexible enough to rapidly evolve with the changing demands of the workforce.

The purpose and value of the workplace have never been clearer—and its design has never been more important. We know now that the workplace must be a destination, not an obligation. It must be an “experience multiplier,” where people can have unique experiences not available anywhere else. After decades of stagnation in workplace design, we now have the space to imagine such new possibilities and solutions. So, what does the workplace of the future look like?

It embodies both a higher purpose and a greater responsiveness to workers. It is the new town square: a center of activity where people come together to work individually and collectively while building relationships and absorbing company culture.

We envision the new workplace as an ecosystem of flexible, adaptable zones where people can gather wherever is best suited to the work before them and to the size of their team. Comfortable, casual, living room–like gathering areas are ideal for collective ideation or social events. Small conference rooms with integrated technology support virtual collaboration between people in different locations. Private booths or nooks, free from noise, visual distractions, and interruptions, offer unparalleled space for deep focus. Premium amenities like coffee shops and cafés, indoor-outdoor terraces, fitness facilities, libraries, and other “third places” bring the best of remote work to the office. When coming to the office is a choice, our charge as designers is to make it the best choice.

By designing a collection of spaces that are both tailored to specific tasks and interconnected, we can empower employees to choose the venue that best meets their needs. By prioritizing the human experience, the office can flourish as a restorative and creative environment that fosters meaningful connection. And by offering workers a sense of agency in the process, we can give them the autonomy and support they need to do their best work.


San Francisco

31 Commercial Blvd. Suite F
Novato, CA 94949
t 1.415.883.3300
f 1.415.883.3309

Los Angeles

ORO LA Office
5520 Palos Verdes Blvd.
Torrance, CA 90505
t: 1.310.318.5186


180 Chemin Danis
Grenville PQ, J0V 1B0
Quebec, Canada
t 1.415.233.1944


2 Venture Dr.
#11-15 Vision Exchange
Singapore 608526
t 65.66.2206


Room 15E, Building 7, 
Ying Jun Nian Hua Garden,
Dan Zhu Tou, Shenhui Road, Buji, Longgang district,
Shenzhen, China 518114w
t 86.1372.4392.704

Buenos Aires

Juramento 3115
Buenos Aires C1428DOC
t 54.911.6861.2543

© 2023 ORO Editions. All Rights Reserved. Designed by Organ Creative

© 2021 ORO Editions.
All Rights Reserved. Designed by Organ Creative

© 2021 ORO Editions. All Rights Reserved. Designed by Organ Creative

© 2021 ORO Editions. All Rights Reserved. Designed by Organ Creative

© 2021 ORO Editions. All Rights Reserved. Designed by Organ Creative

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