Gensler’s Andy Cohen on Design Thinking

According to Gensler Co-CEO Andy Cohen, there are four key steps to design thinking:

  • Question what conventional wisdom thinks is possible
  • Observe what people actually do – and take it seriously
  • Define the problem in new ways – and connect new dots
  • Imagine the solutions that best leverage this new reality

Cohen spoke at LMU’s College of Business Administration on March 20 as part of the Hilton Distinguished Entrepreneur Lecture Series. In his talk, both business and engineering students learned about Cohen’s entrepreneurial journey from entry-level designer to Co-CEO, background on Gensler and some of the firm’s past and future projects, and what it takes to build and operate an organization full of incredibly talented and creative professionals.

A true champion of design excellence, Cohen is one of the key contributors to Gensler, the world’s largest and most admired architecture firm, pioneering project types and design strategies for the next century. Cohen leads the firm’s global design innovation strategies and has spearheaded the growth of many Gensler practice areas, including entertainment, aviation, retail and hospitality. Odds are nearly everyone has been inside at least one of Gensler’s buildings. Popular venues in Los Angeles designed by Gensler include the Arclight Cinemas, the Staples Center, L.A. LIVE, Club Nokia and the Ritz-Carlton. Gensler is tapped to build downtown LA’s new football stadium, Farmers Field.

In his presentation, Cohen also highlighted three global trends in designing communities:

Globalization – Technological innovation has made it easier to communicate across time zones and operate as an integrated business.

Demographics of Demand – The population of certain countries is on the rise and is expected to increase substantially over the next few decades. With more people come more opportunities for economic development.

Sustainability – With new development come growing CO2 emissions. Buildings produce the majority of CO2 emissions, more than both transportation and industry. Gensler now only builds sustainable, green buildings that reduce CO2 emissions by 40%. For example, Shanghai Tower, currently under construction in China, will feature wind turbines at the top of the building to power lighting for the building.

Cohen’s entrepreneurial talents don’t fall far from the tree. His son, Brandin Cohen, is a 2010 graduate of LMU and has successfully launched a new business of his own called Liquid I.V. This all-natural rehydration and anti-hangover beverage is quickly gaining popularity amongst college students and pro athletes and is currently being sold online and in several locations across Southern California.