Our Culture

Celebrating over 75 Years of Gruen Associates’ influence on our industry, our projects and legacy of professional talent.

The “Culture” of Gruen Associates

Collaborative environment directed toward the future and respectful of past – Our Cornerstone Principles:

“We are witnessing a renaissance of concern for cultural and artistic achievement, and for the quality of the human environment.  Thus, an unprecedented challenge for the shaping of man’s physical surroundings is emerging.  To participate in this challenge and contribute creatively to its realization, Victor Gruen Associates has grown and developed a team of professionals with varied backgrounds of education and experience, and with a common dedication to the task of conceiving with imagination and designing with competence the new environment of man.

Gruen Associates was founded upon and remains committed to the principles that:

    • The interest of the client is best served through the contribution of a well-coordinated group of professionals.
    • The complexity of contemporary technology and multiplicity of public and private motivation toward development and investment have brought the practice of architecture beyond the grasp of the single individual.
    • The architect must assume the role of coordinator and catalyzer of the activities of all the specialists and consultants whose contributions are essential to the effective solution of the problems of contemporary environment.”

Victor Gruen, 1966
Founder, Gruen Associates

These words written more than 50 years ago by our founder Victor Gruen, remain the cornerstone of the way we think and how our office culture operates.  This mindset manifests itself in several different ways.  We continue to maintain different disciplines within our office including architects, planners, interior designers, landscape architects and construction specialists.  We maintain a studio environment where we create teams that stay with the project from beginning to end; thereby, fostering cross pollination of skills and experiences, and although we no longer maintain engineers in-house, we treat our engineering consultants and others as if they were in-house and a part of the project team.

But we have taken this philosophy further.  Over 30 years ago we actively, began to seek collaborations with other architects and designers to execute projects of all sizes and types.  This is consistent with our guiding principles above.  This approach has resulted in dozens of world-class projects that might not have been accomplished without utilizing this teaming approach.  Most recently, we teamed with Grimshaw of London to accomplish the vision for the transformation of Downtown Los Angeles’ Union Station and, indeed, much of the surrounding areas.

“Gruen  Associates, continues to model collaborations on a number of high-profile projects….a rare talent in this profession.”

Steven M. Nakada, AIA
Principal, Nakada + Associates

We also have embraced contractors as team members and we are recognized as leaders in the Design-Build project delivery method.

“Projects completed for the State of California by Gruen Associates as the Executive Architect and as a part of a Design-Build team are the precursor of, and are ahead of the curve relative to, AEC Integrated Practice Delivery.  This is important, because California is the bellwether of our national practice.”

Stephen Castellanos, FAIA
(Former California State Architect)

Gruen Associates’ Commitment to Collaboration perfects Executive Architecture

In the 80’s, 90’s and 2000’s, Gruen Associates developed and perfected a new and unique practice niche in what is now called Executive Architecture.  This is where we team up with a design architect to pursue projects together.  Through this project delivery system, we have become an acknowledged profession leader and we have brought architectural masterpieces to life through our partnerships with many world-renowned designers.  Through our management expertise, we transferred the visionary’s dream into a tangible reality, resulting in inspired accomplishments for all participants. Our extensive portfolio of work has produced major public architectural spaces, including embassies, performing arts centers, courthouses, convention centers, transit centers, and high-rise office buildings.

Working with diverse international talents and personalities ranging from Cesar Pelli, Thom Mayne, Frank Gehry, Christian de Portzamparc, Norman Foster, Rem Koolhaas, and James Ingo Freed, among others, we have developed practice principles embracing the unique style of each. On every project, we artfully combine the creative talent of the designer with our equally critical management expertise and technical skills. These joint successes have established Gruen as a leader in translating the designer’s dream into the client’s fulfillment—a unique, widely acknowledged talent developed over more than 30 years of detailed, hands-on management.

We have inspired and led nearly two dozen architects—from large and small firms—in successfully seeking new and/or larger commissions, sometimes as executive architects themselves. Through their collaboration with Gruen Associates, noted firms such as ZGF, Moore Ruble Yudell, Grimshaw, Michael Maltzan Architects, and Morphosis have expanded into new markets, and their clients have realized high-quality, design-driven projects. In the case of ZGF, MRY and Morphosis, they have gone on to win the AIA Gold medal or AIA Firm Award due much in part to projects that they collaborated on with Gruen Associates.  Our projects using this system includes the Los Angeles Convention Center, the Ronald Reagan Federal Building and US Courthouse, the US Courthouse in Fresno, the US Embassy in Berlin, Plaza Las Fuentes in Pasadena, the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, the Caltrans District 7 Headquarters, the John Spoor Broome Library, the Team Disney Building, MOCA, Cal Plaza I, and the renovation of the Hollywood Bowl.

Executive architecture as demonstrated by Gruen Associates is an exemplary and virtually necessary aspect of contemporary practice.  Our two firms successfully collaborated on a major project 15 years ago.   The added value of the association of our two firms and the role of an Executive Architect is a critical and important part of our success.   Our conclusion: the design architect prospers and the collaboration with the Executive Architect produces great architecture.

George Miller, FAIA
(former) Managing Partner,
Pei Cobb Freed & Partners

Gruen Associates is Dedicated to the Profession

Gruen encourages its employees to be involved in the profession, not only for their own professional development, but also to be a good member of our professional community by engaging ourselves in the public discussion of where our profession is going and where it should go.  So, it is not surprising that you see our staff actively engaged in many organizations like the AIA|LA, AIA CA, CALCPAC, CALA, ACE, AAa/e, APA, ASLA, SCDF, SMPS, CSI and others. Quite often we serve in leadership roles.

Mike Enomoto was AIA|LA 2007 President, AIA California 2012 President, AAa/e 2006 President, SCDF 2011 President, CALA 1st Vice President and is the CALCPAC 2015 Chair.  Debra Gerod was the  AIA|LA 2014 AIA California Representative, the AIA|LA 2016 President and the  AIA California 2018 President.