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The Strategic Approach of Gensler Bangkok

Gensler has celebrated a year of operation in Thailand. Wynn A. Bay finds out how the team works locally but acts globally.

The Strategic Approach of Gensler Bangkok


January 16th, 2013

After one year of operation in Bangkok, Janie Horas, the General Manager of Gensler Bangkok, is now all too familiar with the local customs that infuse Asian business dealings. Her refined, warm hospitality and respect for the unspoken hierarchy are a few cultural keys that have yielded enduring relationships with her clients.

Gensler Bangkok

Gensler Bangkok

Views of Gensler’s Bangkok office

New markets are never without challenges, and the so-called ‘one size fits all’ approach is certainly a thing of the past. Cultural tastes, corporate values, civic regulations and design standards range widely from city to city, and Horas has learned that “people here generally aren’t very direct when they are not keen on something. Reading between the lines is vital,” she says.

And with more than 20 years of experience in managing client relationships (for entities including Disney), she is more than aware that a successful global expansion requires an appreciation of the host market’s culture via thoughtful adaptation, deep market awareness and forward-looking flexibility.

Gensler Bangkok

Design for the Singapore office of law firm Milbank

The Gensler Bangkok office mainly focuses on interior design for workplace and retail clients (such as Uniqlo in Bangkok), and lends expertise and support to Gensler’s other locations. With growth in the workplace design market in Singapore and Hong Kong, it seems the Bangkok office is well placed to focus on developments in the Southeast Asian region.

Gensler Bangkok

Design for Magnolias Ratchadamri Boulevard, a mixed-use residential tower and retail podium (Bangkok, Thailand). Designed in collaboration with Di Designs

However, that is not what Horas sees as the core reason for opening the Bangkok office. “We are here simply to support our clients,” she says, and strengthen Gensler’s support for its global clients. “Gap (the clothing retailer) was our first client 45 years ago, and they are still with us today,” she says.

Gensler Bangkok

Shanghai Tower (under construction in Shanghai, China) will be the world’s second-tallest building when it opens in 2014

But certainly, Horas’ confidence is not all about blind commitment to an unknown territory. Her confidence is based on Gensler’s ‘work locally – act globally’ ability to pull expertise through an integrated cross-office exchange.

The dynamic Gensler network spans their 42 locations and more than 3,500 professionals (including architects, designers, planners and design consultants). Projects range in size from a wine label to a new urban district.

Gensler Bangkok

Gensler Bangkok

Tower for the Ritz-Carlton Hotel and Residences, and the JW Marriott at LA LIVE (Los Angeles, USA)

The proven track record of some 3,000 projects annually (including projects for Facebook and Google) is a testament to how Gensler can really ‘be there’ for the client.

Ask the Gensler Bangkok design team members how they measure the success of a project, and they’ll say “there is no such thing as Gensler-designed building; only a client’s building.” The building must allow the client to grow and be more successful in what they do.

Gensler Bangkok

Summer internship student group. This collaborative internship programme involves Gensler, Di Designs and GDiD, and students from the University of Pennsylvania, University of Maryland, Chulalongkorn University and Thammasat University

The team looks beyond their success with Gensler’s global and Bangkok-based clients. As a genuine commitment to their international CSR, the Bangkok staff also actively share their international knowledge and expertise by giving support to the local community and serving regularly as guest critics for the design universities in Thailand.

Top image: Janie, Sompong, Tanja and Norrasid from the Gensler Bangkok team

Gensler Bangkok

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