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What is difference between Gensler/ KPF / SOM/ Foster?

Vendetta

What is difference between Gensler/ KPF / SOM/ Foster?

- Design style, the way to design.

- What do they emphasize?

- Work organization


 
Sep 4, 20 2:50 am
lower.case.yao

corporate-layoff hi risk / corporate / corporate / Apple store

Sep 4, 20 2:57 am  · 
2  · 
randomised

Foster is British that’s all the difference I know...

Sep 4, 20 3:21 am  · 
3  · 
archanonymous

Gensler pays overtime, fat bonuses and has a decent work life balance. 


SOM does better work but will work you hard and there's always the "d-motion" 


No one cares about kpf


Foster is British.

Sep 4, 20 7:18 am  · 
1  · 
DTL.DWG

pretty accurate. and remember back in the day when one of those firms was laying off the other was hiring all those same people...

 · 
apscoradiales

Same shiet, different cities.

That said, working for Foster would have been cool. He just retired, so it may no longer be true.

Sep 4, 20 8:52 am  · 
 · 
The_Crow

I think you're confusing Foster with Richard Rogers. I don't believe foster has retired.

 · 
monosierra

From a client's or employee's point of view?

Sep 4, 20 9:14 am  · 
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Jay1122

Why do you ask? Trying to decide which one to join? If you ask me to rank it. it will be, Foster>SOM>GENSLER>KPF. I would not want to work on their high rise towel projects tho. I bet the stair detail and door schedule alone will take you a couple months. I bet some guy spend months coordinating plenum MEP stuff. I never worked for those high rise projects, just my assumption.If someone did, i do like to know what it is like.

Sep 4, 20 9:19 am  · 
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randomised

I always pay attention to thread count and type of cotton for my high rise towels, best is Pima cotton in my opinion.

2  · 
Jay1122

Didn't get your joke for a sec then i realized it should be high rise tower. I failed the honor of the profession.

 · 
randomised

What honour?

 · 
Jay1122

We are the perfectionist. Writings should be triple checked. Or that is how I was educated when i was an intern.Omission and error will only give contractors the chance to attack your credibility and your quality of drawings.You got to make your drawings real tight. Feels like that is the first lesson to interns, carelessness in preparing CDs.

 · 
tduds

I'd go insane if it was all I did but every now & again I find great satisfaction in churning out a massive set of stair sheets or a thousand-door door schedule. Pop in the headphones and just cruise. It's meditative, in a way.

1  · 
Jay1122

So you work on those high rise towers? What do you normally do tho, in terms of work span. Is work section guy one of its own? I saw KPF was hiring wall section specialist. That is the reason i am scared of joining those firms doing huge project. I would want something mid size, go from concept design to CA.

 · 
tduds

I'm lucky to be at a middle point in my career at a medium sized firm that gives me a wide range of options - sometimes I'm PA or PM on a medium sized project, sometimes I'm a production / code lackey on a 35 story tower. Sometimes both in the same week. Keeps it interesting, usually.

Personally I wouldn't work for a very large firm because I have political / philosophical beliefs that conflict with the very idea of them. I don't want to work anywhere where the person whose name is on the front door doesn't know my first name. But that's just me. 

 · 
code

I only worked at Skidmore, sure we had to work hard and long, but the payoff was seeing the results rise up out of the ground. Most people I know at the big G, got layed off.

Sep 4, 20 5:31 pm  · 
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DTL.DWG

SOM is the only Corporate firm that does really good work, at the level of the starchitects...Gensler is mcdonalds, and KPF is hit or miss, which tells me, having done a short bit at a corporate firm, the quality of work is based on the individual in charge. SOM just has it down, like the New England Patriots or something.

1  · 
natematt

I think they are really just better at marketing themselves as the "designer" firm. I don't think they are on average that much better than the others.

 · 
natematt

Don't get me wrong, they have some nice projects, but most all the corporate firms do sometimes.

 · 
Koww

KPF / SOM - three letters

Gensler / Foster - end in "er"

Sep 4, 20 10:55 pm  · 
6  · 
midlander

biggest difference is som has gone through several cycles of ownership transition and seems to have a stable process for developing key people into partners and balancing the management of their different offices. som also has a stronger focus on us govt work which is a big advantage in downturns for commercial real estate, though not a big factor for any individual staff position.


the other 3 all sit under the shadow of their founders, which is never favorable for the third generation leadership (second gen tends to rise up with the original growth of the firm and sometimes do better than they 'deserve')


for an entry level grad none of this matters - at the bottom work is everywhere the same. what you learn will be defined by your own competence and drive plus economic trends. i would say it literally doesn't matter which to work at if you have the choice, see if you can find out who your manager would be and choose based on the one you would most like working with.


if you have the chance to work at any, take it. you'll learn a lot and maybe love it. most don't, but still learn a lot about how practice works, how to work somewhat efficiently, and how management can be structured to keep a large firm operating. you'll see why interpersonal relationships are fundamental to the business. and all future job searches will be easier if you can show you managed well as a junior designer in a recognized office like these.

Sep 7, 20 8:26 pm  · 
3  · 
DTL.DWG

your first paragraph confirms my New England Patriots comparison...doesn't matter who joins the team, the quality of work remains high. This means they have a really good system (I've been told that's what makes a good firm and allows growth, so I'm always thinking of ways to make a system that makes me less involved - not easy)

2  · 
midlander

agree. also i think it's worth noticing how many leading architects at som came from less notable midwestern schools. it's a positive thing that they help ambitious talent build themselves up instead of relying on the filter of prestigious degrees to find leadership.

2  · 
DTL.DWG

also there's a short or long list ? of major firms by ex SOM principals, I can think of 2 off the top of my head.

 · 
midlander

regarding the style of each - they have all grown too big to be within the stylistic control of any individual. KPF SOM and Fosters are all converging towards the same renaissance of international modern we've been seeing for 20 years.


Gensler tends to have no stylistic ambition and is all over the place in quality and effect depending on the demands of particular clients and markets. Go to G to learn how to make money designing buildings not to learn how to design them.


Foster has a clear heritage of techno-future modern but less so now as Foster himself disengages from the work. Strong in transportation and sometimes innovative in technical aspects of environmental control and programmatic arrangement.


KPF or SOM seem to vary somewhat depending on the team, but generally indistinguishable.


SOM does much more interesting research on building performance and structural integration - but from outside it's not always evident in the built work. Also excellent at urban design and planning, which can be important to learn from.


KPF is just in the business of making nice looking big buildings. That can be a criticism or a benefit depending on your personal goals.

Sep 7, 20 8:39 pm  · 
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sameolddoctor

I've heard that Foster works very much like an old boys' club in terms of internal politics. SOM consistently does better work than most, but some of the higher level people can be a bit full of themselves in my experience. Dunno much about KPF but they've done some good towers. Gensler is everything youve heard about - most of the work is mediocre bread-and-butter shit, but they do have some hits rarely, like the Shanghai Tower.

Sep 8, 20 1:11 pm  · 
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midlander

which was largely designed by recruits from som and kpf (shh it's a secret!)

2  · 
thisisnotmyname

A design "hit" at Gensler would be regarded as an average project at SOM.

 · 
thisisnotmyname

Foster and SOM projects usually have a strong idea that drives the architectural solution.  Gensler usually selects 4-5 patterns of curtain wall and randomly slaps them on a box building.  KPF twists and contorts their buildings with arbitrary curves and angles to create visual "interest".

Sep 9, 20 10:59 am  · 
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Jay1122

Who cares about the design of those big firms, it is probably done by their design director/studio manager. For junior level, you will probably spend endless hours doing physical & digital models, diagrams, renderings as requested with endless changes. During production, You probably will spend most time doing egress stair details(not even ceremonial central stairs for you), duct & pipe coordination, door and hardware schedules, millwork details. Before you realize, years have passed and you are still on that single project. Your portfolio shows a beautiful $10K rendering of the $2B tower complex done by the visualization consultant firm, but what you actually did was the stair details,door schedules and etc. You have no idea how to run a project.You start to weep and question why you joined them. Ok, it is all just my imagination of today's architecture career soap.

2  · 
thisisnotmyname

All true, but at Gensler you might end up on some really low-end jobs that the other three firms would never accept. Things like suburban branch bank remuddles, existing building surveys, etc. They will accept almost anything to keep the revenue coming in.

 · 
archanonymous

Agreed on gensler, but if you are good you'll work on the good stuff. Also, all those shit revenue generating jobs mean paid overtime til your base salary is over $110k, and really good bonuses like $5k for youngins and 15-45k for experienced PAs/ PMs and design directors. Oh also the Christmas bonus you just get a double paycheck, guaranteed.

 · 
Jay1122

I did not know the pay at gensler is this good. any 1 worked there to confirm.

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DTL.DWG

my buddy made $100k getting peeps to convert...and then they went after the partners!

 · 
thisisnotmyname

I can confirm the pay is good. Gensler often represents a big salary jump for people that move there from low-paying job at smaller firms.

 · 
DTL.DWG

15 years ago while in Revit training (certifiable!) the Revit guy showed us what the cool kids were doing - Zaha, SOM.

SOM was working on the Freedom Tower at the time (supposedly designed by Libeskind, ha).   They were developing a set of parameters (Family or whatever you call it in Revit) to run 50 options on the facade at once.   So they were doing equivalent starchitect or cutting edge academic stuff, but in a corporate setting while making money.  Pretty sure neither Gensler nor KPF can make this claim.

 


Sep 12, 20 8:24 am  · 
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randomised

Still looks like crap though ;-)

 · 
OneLostArchitect

why so much hate in the big G? I don’t get it 

Sep 13, 20 3:31 am  · 
1  · 
thisisnotmyname

A lot of people feel burned by the internal politics and a chronic lack of recognition for who actually did the work on a project team. Ex employees have told me about sex and age discrimination happening in several offices. The mass layoffs don't help either.

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thisisnotmyname

To be fair, interior designers I know have done really well at Gensler, their hard work and talent was recognized and rewarded. The architects have very mixed outcomes.

1  · 
monosierra

Gensler started off as an interior design giant right? Wonder how much that still informs their culture today.

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DTL.DWG

I also knew someone who had a nervous breakdown while working at SOM. 

Sep 13, 20 11:32 am  · 
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monosierra

This forum is under attack from a lot of bots recently.

Sep 17, 20 8:17 am  · 
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