Scott Dunlap: Gensler director is master of the mobile workspace

Scott Dunlap carries his office with him — a computer, BlackBerry and the few papers he can manage to fit in two hands — throughout the day, whether he’s heading down the hall to speak with a colleague or walking to the bathroom.

He never sits down at his desk. In fact, he gave it away to another co-worker.

“Individual workspace is not established by position. It’s not who you are, but what you do that should determine the workspace,” said Dunlap, managing director of Gensler in San Francisco. “I need to be more engaged with people at other people’s desks, anyway.”

Gensler offers a wide range of design services from city master plans to designing a wine bottle label. The San Francisco office, located at 2 Harrison St., is one of more than 30 around the world, serving about 3,000 people. Some of their projects include the Gap stores, Oakland’s McAfee Coliseum and the Mineta San Jose Airport re-design.

For Dunlap, no project is too small to promote sustainable design strategies — hence his mobile workplace.

Gensler recently completed the first LEED-certified law office in the nation, meeting the highest environmental standards.

Dunlap graduated with a bachelor’s degree in architecture from Cal Poly and started at Gensler shortly after. Twenty-one years later, Dunlap still works there and can’t imagine being with another company.

“Longevity is not a unique thing here,” Dunlap said, noting that his wife, whom he met on the job, worked for the company for the last 27 years as an event planner and travel manager.

The firm is currently doing work on the Mission Bay office buildings and lobby renovations, the McEvoy Ranch olive-oil company building, and the Hyatt, Hilton and Fairmont Hotels.

Dunlap said Gensler is committed to its involvement with the community. The office holds quarterly art shows, featuring the work of local artists. In April, they’re holding their Third Annual “Discarded to Divine” event, which raises money to buy new clothes for San Francisco’s homeless population.

Dunlap is the president of the Architectural Foundation of San Francisco, which provides architectural training for at-risk high school students.

But it’s walking around the office with his Blackberry and laptop that really gives Dunlap fulfillment.

“I like the work focusing on sustainability training and education,” Dunlap said. “That’s really where I get my satisfaction.”

In his free time, one might find Dunlap gardening in his backyard in Berkeley.

“It’s where I find my therapy and my place,” he said. “I love watching things grow. I think that’s why I’m in this profession.”

For more information on Scott Dunlap and Gensler, visit


New project: Mission Bay office buildings and lobby renovations; McEvoy Ranch olive oil company in the Ferry Building; Hyatt, Hilton and Fairmont hotels in SanFrancisco.

Last project: We recently completed the first LEED-certified law office in the nation.

Number of e-mails a day: Too many. I find if I send fewer, I get fewer.

Number of voice mails a day: Fewer and fewer. It seems people are using e-mail, so about 10 to 15.

Essential Web site:

Gadgets: My gardening tools, my clippers. I also just got an iPod.

Education: Bachelor’s in architecture from Cal Poly

Last conference: Gensler partner meeting in Chicago last year

First job: Did an office supply job for a short time, but first real job was Gensler.

Career objective: To have a larger influence than the San Francisco office.


Details: Speaks fluent Italian, met and married his wife at his workplace.

Hometown: Cupertino

Sports/hobbies: Gardening, travel

Transportation: Carpool

Favorite restaurant: I’m a sucker for a good burger. I wouldn’t turn down an invitation from the ACME Chop House.

Computer: Dell laptop and BlackBerry, now that I’m mobile

Vacation spot: We go to the same place every year: the Hyatt Regency in Hawaii.

Favorite clothier: I’m a Brooks Brothers guy.

Role model: My grandfather

Reading: On vacation, I read science fiction. I just finished “The World Without Us.” I also like gardening books and magazines.

Worst fear: I’m pretty fearless. Maybe my worst fear is finding a worst fear.

Motivation: The people around me: my wife, my co-workers, and good weather.

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