Celebrating the Visibility of LGBTQ+ Designers at Gensler

The design industry has long been recognized as a welcoming space for the LGBTQ+ community. However, despite its reputation, the visibility of LGBTQ+ designers is still lacking in research and initiatives focused on equity, diversity,...

The design industry has long been recognized as a welcoming space for the LGBTQ+ community. However, despite its reputation, the visibility of LGBTQ+ designers is still lacking in research and initiatives focused on equity, diversity, and inclusion. This article aims to shed light on the accomplishments and contributions of LGBTQ+ designers at Gensler, the world's leading design firm.

LGBTQ+ Designers Making an Impact

Gensler recently published its first annual Diversity Report, which revealed that 7% of its U.S. workforce identifies as LGBTQ+. This statistic demonstrates the firm's commitment to fostering an inclusive environment. According to Andy Cohen, FAIA, and Diane Hoskins, FAIA, co-CEOs of Gensler, diversity of background and experience is vital for innovation to thrive within the firm.

To further celebrate the LGBTQ+ community, Gensler spoke with six LGBTQ+ designers, highlighting their journeys and the projects they have worked on. Let's dive into their stories and accomplishments.

Diana Vasquez, Design Director

Diana Vasquez, a design director at Gensler Phoenix, has a diverse design background, ranging from graphics and toys to retail interiors and mixed-use developments. As a world traveler and an individual with an open mind, Vasquez's designs are heavily influenced by her joy in discovering new perspectives. She also plays a key role in Gensler's Diversity, Equity & Inclusion committee, where she mentors the next generation of designers.

One of Vasquez's notable projects is the transformation of a warehouse into Phoenix Forge, a community makerspace that serves students and the local community. She is also working on a redesign for One N Ten, a nonprofit organization dedicated to serving LGBTQ+ youth, creating a safe space for them and their families.

Kenneth Baker, Southeast Co-Regional Managing Principal

Kenneth Baker, the Southeast Co-Regional Managing Principal at Gensler, has been with the firm for over 25 years. He emphasizes the importance of celebrating diversity and recognizes the positive direction in which the LGBTQ+ community is headed within the design profession. Baker actively supports organizations that promote LGBTQ+ rights, including Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and Project Angel Food.

Mauricio Naranjo, Designer

Mauricio Naranjo, a designer at Gensler San José, is known for his work in workplace and corporate interiors. He has overseen Gensler Costa Rica's LGBTQI+ committee and inclusion campaigns since 2015. Naranjo aims to raise the voice and identity of the LGBTQI+ community in the Latin American design scene, extending his initiatives to Mexico and Bogota.

Marissa Luehring, Technical Designer

As a technical designer in Gensler's Chicago office, Marissa Luehring contributes her expertise to a variety of workplace and building repositioning projects. She played a key role in the transformation of Chicago's Willis Tower and AON Center, creating inviting spaces that foster a welcoming atmosphere. Luehring is not only passionate about designing spaces but also actively participates in the architecture and design community, serving on the board of directors for the Chicago Building Congress.

John Bricker, Principal, Creative Director

John Bricker, based in New York, is a principal and creative director at Gensler. He is known for his work in retail and branding, expanding the firm's practice into emerging markets across the globe. Bricker recently completed The View at The Palm Tower, a viewing deck experience in Dubai that offers breathtaking views of Palm Jumeirah island. The project showcases how human-centric designs can create authentic and engaging experiences.

Benjamin Vela, Associate Designer

Benjamin Vela, based in San Francisco, is an associate designer at Gensler. With a passion for creating environments and lifestyles, Vela believes in the importance of designing spaces that truly resonate with people. His recent project, the Postmates headquarters in San Francisco, exemplifies this philosophy, offering a dynamic and collaborative work environment.

Celebrating Diversity and Inclusion

These LGBTQ+ designers at Gensler are paving the way for greater recognition and visibility within the design industry. Their accomplishments reflect the firm's dedication to diversity, equity, and inclusion. By celebrating their work, we take a step forward in creating a more inclusive design community.

Let's continue to support and celebrate LGBTQ+ designers, ensuring their contributions are acknowledged and celebrated. Together, we can create a more vibrant and diverse design industry.