Meet Manan Shah | Member Spotlight

In the world of architecture, where creativity meets functionality, Manan Shah shines as a principal at Gensler, managing the Oakland office with an impressive 22 years of experience in the field. In this Member Spotlight, we delve into Manan’s journey, insights into the architecture profession, and his perspectives on the future of the industry.

Early Influences and Career Beginnings: Manan Shah’s journey into architecture is a tale of a multi-generational connection. Growing up with both parents as practicing architects, Manan was immersed in the profession from a young age. His first architectural job at 12 making models and running bluelines, marked the beginning of a career that would span two decades. Despite initially considering a different path in molecular cell biology, his passion for architecture prevailed, leading him to dive headfirst into the profession during his undergraduate years at UC Berkeley.

Balancing Art and Science: Manan’s unique blend of studying both art and architecture in college laid the foundation for his holistic approach to the profession. His fascination with the diverse aspects of architectural education, encompassing hard sciences, social sciences, and artistic expression, fueled his passion for the field. This breadth of knowledge became a driving force in his career, allowing him to navigate the complexities of designing spaces that seamlessly merge aesthetics, functionality, and societal impact.

The Impact of Architects on Society: For Manan Shah, being an architect is not just about creating buildings; it’s about shaping communities and influencing the urban landscape. He emphasizes the significant role architects play in navigating the political landscape of land use, contributing to the psychological aspects of a building, and addressing the societal impact of architectural decisions. From the smallest material interactions to the generational impact of a building, architects are tasked with a diverse range of challenges, making the profession both dynamic and fulfilling.

A Project that Reflects Vision and Impact: Manan shares insights into a notable project, 633 Folsom Street in downtown San Francisco, a transformative venture that took six years to complete. The project involved renovating an early sixties building, originally constructed by the Swig family for AT&T. The vision centered around creating a space focused on well-being, incorporating innovative design elements such as sunshades for enhanced natural light. The successful collaboration with progressive tech company Asana, which valued the health and wellness aspects of the building, marked the realization of the project’s vision.

Advice for the Next Generation: Reflecting on his own journey, Manan encourages aspiring architects to explore various career paths, understand the day-to-day workings of the profession, and prioritize a love for learning. He emphasizes the importance of curiosity, adaptability, and a continuous quest for knowledge in an ever-evolving field.

The Future of Architecture: Looking ahead, Manan Shah envisions significant changes in the architecture and design industry. Technology, particularly AI, is expected to streamline labor-intensive processes, allowing architects to focus more on creativity and high-level client interactions. The profession’s future success, according to Manan, hinges on embracing innovation, making the profession of architecture an attractive choice for the best and brightest minds, and adapting to the evolving landscape.

As the architectural world undergoes transformations, professionals like Manan Shah continue to lead with a passion for creating spaces that transcend mere structures, leaving a lasting impact on communities and society at large.

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