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Meet our Alumni Principals at Gensler

Marc Bruffett (BAED '92) is studio director for Gensler New York; Eric Ginsburg (Architecture BS '01) heads Toronto office

Published October 15, 2015

Gensler, a global design firm with 46 offices worldwide, is a key partner of the School of Architecture and Planning, employing a significant number of UB graduates. In addition, Maddy Burke-Vigeland, a principal in the New York office, is a member of the School of Architecture and Planning Dean’s Council, a leadership advisory group for the school. “This is a unique school in a unique city,” says Burke-Vigeland. “For students looking for an architectural education, the School of Architecture and Planning offers fantastic opportunities.” 

Two beneficiaries of such opportunities are Marc Bruffett and Eric Ginsburg. Both alumni were recently named principals at Gensler. Their promotions showcase the unique contributions and leadership roles our graduates play in a firm known widely for its culture of collaboration, research and client service. 

Marc Bruffett (BAED '92)

Marc Bruffett serves dual roles as northeast regional director for Gensler's consulting practices area and studio director for Gensler New York.  

Marc Bruffett (BAED ’92) joined Gensler in 2010 and quickly became known for his successful leadership and global client engagement. He serves dual roles as the northeast regional leader for Gensler’s consulting practice area and as a studio director for Gensler New York. In his practice area role he is responsible for the strategic vision guiding Gensler’s 50 design strategists and analysts in Boston, New York and Toronto. He is recognized for his leadership on complex alternative workplace, change management, and portfolio strategy projects. In addition to his UB degree, Bruffett earned an MBA from Cornell University’s Johnson Graduate School of Management.

In what ways does the culture at the School of Architecture and Planning lend itself to a workplace like Gensler, and vice versa?

Gensler's culture is centered around research-informed design. That means we begin our designs and strategies with an inquiry and discovery process to deeply understand the needs of people and organizations. That's very different than, say, design that is meant chiefly to express an artistic statement. And research-informed design is a hallmark of UB's School of Architecture and Planning. The school has never been big on trying to inculcate a particular aesthetic, for example. So, for me and the other UB grads at Gensler, we were served very well by our education and, in turn, are able to serve Gensler's clients well. I always say that our designs are meant to tell our client's stories, not ours. That's something I learned at UB.

Is there a specific principle or way of working that influences your day-to-day practice?

Human factors are the central influences of my day-to-day practice: wellbeing, performance, comfort, health, security. Every day these specific considerations, and many more complementary ones, help to guide our design decision making.   

What kinds of changes do you see coming in architectural education, and also professional practice? 

In both education and practice, Gensler is organized around design specialities: architecture, interiors, graphics, brand, products, and so forth. Increasingly, clients want to know how the outcomes of these specialties influence one another, how they are integrated throughout the design process and, ultimately, how they perform together. In other words, they are demanding holistic solutions. For that reason I believe that both education and practice are at the dawn of a new era of transdisciplinary design thinking. To my way of thinking that is radical and welcome. Professional practice must help academia understand the skills and performance requirements for the next generation of design leaders. In turn, academia should respond to those requirements with transdisciplinary design thinking courses as part of the core curriculum.

Eric Ginsburg (Architecture BS ’01)

Eric Ginsburg (Architecture BS ’01) is principal and managing director of Gensler’s Toronto office. Established by Ginsburg three years ago, the office is Gensler’s first in Canada. Since then he has successfully managed client relationships that include RBC, Scotia Bank and Amex, and helped build the office from a one-person operation to a staff of 45. As leader of Gensler Toronto, Ginsburg is focused on both servicing U.S. clients as they expand their operations to Canada and developing local business relationships. Prior to relocating to Canada, he worked eight years in the Gensler New York office as a project manager and project architect.

Eric Ginsburg founded Gensler's Toronto office three years ago and now oversees major client relationships and a staff of 45.

In what ways does the culture at the School of Architecture and Planning lend itself to a workplace like Gensler, and vice versa?

Gensler is set up in a studio model in which the studio typically doesn’t get bigger than 25-30 people. These studios are very similar to the studio environment in which Buffalo’s program operates. While each studio may have many projects, the team members support each other across projects and collaborate constantly. Gensler’s culture is one of sharing and openness where our employee-owned model encourages helping each other. Our studio culture in Buffalo was very similar.   

Gensler’s culture is one of sharing and openness where our employee-owned model encourages helping each other. Our studio culture in Buffalo was very similar.

- Eric Ginsburg, principal and managing director, Gensler Toronto 

Is there a specific principle or way of working that influences your day-to-day practice?

The one major guiding principle that I follow and preach on a daily basis is that the work we do is about the greater good of the community. That community includes our clients and our coworkers; it is never about the individual achievements of a single person. It takes a village to complete some of the projects we work on and the supportive group dynamic is what produces the greatest results.

What kinds of changes do you see coming in architectural education, and also professional practice? 

As a profession, architecture and interior design is changing immensely. The digitalization of our work and the change in project delivery continues to evolve at breakneck speeds. Education and professional practices need to keep up with these trends and changes in software or they risk becoming outdated in short order. An increase in student-professional firm collaboration is a must to stay relevant.

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