Art Gensler, who propelled a small namesake practice into one of the largest and most prolific firms in the history of the design industry, died at his home in Mill Valley, California on May 10th, 2020—18 months after being diagnosed with lung disease. He was 85.

“As our founder, he helped mold my career and those of so many other Gensler leaders. He laid the foundations for the company to become a global powerhouse—one that has repeatedly been recognized as the most admired design firm in the world,” says Gensler co-CEO Andy Cohen. “He taught us all about pursuing personal passions, opening doors for our people to excel at what they love to do, and working together to redefine the profession. He demonstrated how design has the power to create a better world. He showed us anything is possible.”

Born in Brooklyn, New York in 1935, Gensler went on to receive a bachelor of architecture from the College of Architecture, Art, and Planning at Cornell University in 1958, during which time he met his wife of nearly 60 years, Drucilla Cortell Gensler. The couple migrated from New York to San Francisco in 1962, and co-founded M. Arthur Gensler Jr. & Associates, Inc. with James Follett three years later in 1965. With an emphasis on space planning and interiors, the practice blazed trails in interior design and tenant development. Early corporate projects—from the SOM offices to the Alcoa Building—captured the firm’s unique understanding of human need in the built environment. New branches eventually emerged in Houston and New York in the 1970s.

The eponymous firm, now known has Gensler, has since left its mark across the globe with iconic designs like Shanghai Tower and the first 100 Apple stores. The firm allso executed a 35-year renovation of the San Francisco International Airport and the JetBlue T5 terminal at John F. Kennedy International Airport. The practice currently operates in 50 countries and boasts an annual revenue of $1.5 billion.

Gensler stepped down as the practice’s CEO and chairman in 2005 and 2010, respectively.

“Art’s legacy on the industry is in how he elevated the interior design profession and drove innovation across an entire industry,” adds co-CEO Diane Hoskins. “His vision for our firm was that, together, designers and clients can solve the world’s biggest challenges. This has never been more important than it is right now. His legacy as a person was in the way he mentored almost everyone he met. An instant friend with an open mind and a master connector of people, the built environment, and the human experience.”

In addition to a myriad of honors, Gensler was inducted into HD’s Platinum Circle in 2014:

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