In the second installment of their 2020-2021 educational program, architecture firm and WHSAD partner, GENSLER, held a workshop entitled “A day in the Life of A Designer”. Students were introduced to team roles in interior design, architecture, and design strategy. Many thanks to our guest speakers, Arielle Levy, Chasen VanLang and Lis Russo.
Below is the full presentation along with some student takeaways from the program.
Every time I see the bright red logo or just hear the name GENSLER, I think of opportunities, offers, a future, and a great work environment in which someone like me, a young future architect, would love to work. I am inspired by each one of their works. Taking inspiration from one of my favorite Gensler projects, Incheon International Airport in South Korea, I’m now able to understand how interior and exterior designs affect our daily lives. Listening to today’s presentation, I learned what the Gensler work environment is like. These insights inspired me and others as well because we had the opportunity of getting inside information from these presenters.
Today, these presenters from different offices and fields of operations came together as one, talking about their careers and their experiences working with Gensler. Something that touched me is when Lis Russo said “Gensler’s team members extend the pursuit of their passions beyond the studio, enriching their perspectives and using their skills to help others in need.” Ms. Russo’s quote shows us how this group of people working together from different types of fields unites in a common goal which is to help out the employer. The environment she describes is an environment in which I and other architects in the making would love to work.
Another reason the quote touches me is the fact it goes with my future goal: to have the opportunity to work with others to inspire people of all ages with my future creations. Gensler’s project in Philadelphia, which they are working on an abandoned power plant, and how they plan to change the way people view buildings. Another one of their goals is to balance and even decrease the pollution of the area by adding a green architecture to the area. Turning an abandoned area into an area where now “life” flows through it, having the opportunity to make an impact to the community even to decrease pollution in the environment is something I want to achieve. I want to work with others to inspire people to make a change and fix the mistakes the people who came before us made that affected our environment.
Working with people from Gensler in ACE is one of the biggest opportunities that I was offered. The ACE mentor program is a program in which High school students are offered architect base lessons. Having the chance to work one on one with people from firms like Gensler, Turner, JB&B, and Cerami is an experience like no other. It is working with those we admire. The Gensler group helps us to have more understanding of what it is to work in their firm, from CAD to 3D models to how they get paid for their projects, which are things I’m interested in. This helps us young architects to learn how our lives are going to be when working with Gensler.
-Kevin Garcia, Sophomore
For today’s presentation, we had three presenters who work at Gensler. Their names are Lis Russo, Chasen Van Lang, and Arielle Levy.
Lis joined Gensler in 2014 as a summer intern after graduating from Virginia Tech. She first started majoring as an architect then found out it’s something she didn’t want to pursue. Lis found out about a culture strategist by communicating with an employer at an event. Once she found out about what a culture strategist does, she went and pursued the career. As a Culture Strategist, Lis’s job is to translate the cultural need and goals of her clients into tangible solutions that build capability and shape employees’ work experiences.
The next presenter was Chasen Van Lang. He joined Gensler in 2013 after graduating from Carnegie Mellon University. He is now an architect who graduated in communication design. He showed us some of the projects he has done, such as a project in Philadelphia in front of a train station. He said he was proud that he was able to create that project because every time he walks out of the train station he sees his project in front of him. Chasen also told us about the programs he uses, some of which are AutoCAD, Rhino, Adobe, and Photoshop.
The last presenter was Arielle Levy. She joined Gensler in 2013 as a summer intern. She graduated from Cornell University. She entered college with a full expectation to go to med school but realized that being in the medical field is something she didn’t enjoy doing. She decided to be an interior designer. She said she has always enjoyed drawing and has loved art since she was a kid. Arielle has always worked with colors and has always had a passion for art and the inspiration to be an interior designer. She is now working at Gensler for seven and a half years.
-Janet Martinez, Senior
Today, three workers from the GENSLER came to present in the WHSAD Makerspace. In the meeting, they talked about their work experience at GENSLER and the paths they’ve taken on entering their major. Arielle Levy is an interior designer for workplace-technology. Chasen Vanlang designs office buildings and retail centers. Lis Russo is a strategist for consulting and real estate services.
As they continued to work at GENSLER, they were able to experience different challenges and grow more skills. In college, Arielle first majored in chemistry, which she enjoyed. Then she took the next step of going to med school. When she became interested in art or gaining art skills, she changed her mind and decided to major in interior design. She is now working on projects for companies such as Google, IBM, Etsy, and Hudson River Trading. For Chasen Van Lang, he loved drawing/sketching and taking pictures in his spare time. In college, he graduated from college with an architecture degree and learned different programs to design instead of using AutoCAD. Now, he is an architectural designer who is working on creating designs and floor plans for buildings. For Lis Russo, she graduated from college to become a cultural strategist where she makes goals and comes up with plans to help gain positive attention.
-Emely Patino, Senior
The extremely creative and professional members of the Gensler Architecture Firm are a joy to speak with in general, and as they discuss their projects, jobs, and all that they do at their firm, offer insight into the world that so many of us hope to join. The projects that they’ve dealt with recently, such as for Etsy and Spotify, display the creativity that they can produce and showcase, allowing my peers and I to understand that creativity is never lacking and is always possible to add into the work. The fact that their work still consists of drawings and art that is done using the mind and your own hands, which Chasen Van Lang discussed with us, is still an aspect which institutes the idea that designing comes from anything. The tools they work with are very valuable as well. The one that stuck out to me the most is the tool that allows for sunlight to be understood and shown in their projects, which is much more important than I anticipated before becoming a part of WLG.
We were then introduced to the occupation of a strategist in architecture and understanding a new job that many of us may not have heard of. Lis Russo, the culture strategist at the Gensler Firm, explained how design strategy is connected to architecture yet is very different from what architectects do. Ms. Russo describes working with Gensler Consulting as a collaboration and speaks on some of her job aspects, such as pre-design and programming, which involve the technical aspect that an architect needs to focus on before they are able to design. Another aspect of her work about which Lis spoke is workplace strategy, which entails understanding a workplace and how the people work for the project to be done the best way. Each aspect is collaborative, however, Ms. Russo’s job involves all of the technical aspects behind architecture. If working on a project and understanding all of the needs of architecture and isn’t for you, don’t stress about it. There is more than one way to participate in a field you desire without doing something you may not necessarily enjoy.
-Gilver Bueno, Senior