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A+D Partner Spotlight: Gensler San Diego, Jeff Thaxton

11-year Gensler Vet, Jeff Thaxton, sat down for an interview with us, where he shares his path to architecture, his love of surfing, and life with a new set of twins.

April 28, 2021

1. Tell me a little bit about your professional background.

The first position I held in the design industry was working as a drafter for a landscape maintenance company in the late ’90s. I worked there for a few years until I was hired as a Job Captain working for a small residential architecture firm right out of high school. I worked during the day and attended night classes at Saddleback Community College in Mission Viejo where I studied Architecture and English writing. In 2005, I transferred to Woodbury University in San Diego, majoring in Architecture. I finished my Bachelor of Architecture in 2008 and Master of Architecture In Real Estate Development in 2010.

2. When did the San Diego Gensler office open?

Our San Diego office opened in 2003 - 18 years ago! I've been with Gensler for 11 years now, since 2010. While Gensler has nearly 50 offices and employs more than 5,000 worldwide, our San Diego office had about 16 people when I joined. Since then, we’ve grown to more than 100 strong! It's been really fun watching our local office grow.

3. What is your role at Gensler today?

I’m a Project Architect, Design Manager, and Senior Associate. My day-to-day responsibilities include leading client relationships, managing design teams, mentoring junior staff, and being the main point of contact in all work produced.

4. Where are you originally from?

I was born in Mission Viejo, CA, and grew up in southern Orange County. After graduating from high school in 2001, my folks retired, and I moved south to San Diego in 2005. This is home now!

5. When did you know architecture was your destiny?

My grandfather was a real estate developer and my parents were both realtors. I was always around different homes and buildings at a very young age and spent a lot of time going to open houses with my parents. I think I knew I wanted to be an Architect when I was in middle school. In high school, I took several drafting classes and loved it. In fact, I got a job working as a drafter my sophomore year!

6. If you could teach a design class at the university level, what would you teach and why?

I taught night classes at the university level from 2010-2014. Courses included Rapid Visualization and Drafting in Light Construction. If I were to teach again, I'd teach an art class focusing on mixed mediums, nothing structured. Or maybe a woodshop class!

7. What is Rapid Visualization?

Rapid Visualization is a technique used by designers and artists to rapidly create a drawing from perspective. You take an idea from concept to rendering without having to start over from scratch each time you want to make an edit or alteration. You could use pen and ink, graphite, crayon, markers, charcoal, or whatever else is within your reach at that moment.

8. What did you enjoy most about teaching?

In my opinion, teaching is one of the best ways to learn, and learning and sharing knowledge are what this industry is all about! I also really love watching people’s skillsets improve and advance over time. Watching a student compare their work at the beginning of a course to the finished product at the end was always fun.

9. What is the key to a successful project?

Collaboration! Hands down! Collaborating with our clients, consultants, and internal teams is what makes these projects come to life! Nothing is done in a vacuum; nothing is a solo effort!

10. What is your favorite travel destination?

Definitely Bali! I really want to go to Norway...they have these incredible glacial carvings that I’ve always wanted to see. I’d also love to visit New Zealand. I have family there and would love to cruise around the islands to surf, hike, and fish!

11. What are some of your favorite pastimes?

Between my work with Gensler, and juggling my 14-week-old identical twin girls, my plate is pretty full these days. But when I do have free time, I spend it surfing and fishing. I also enjoy anything that lets me work with my hands. My wife and I just bought a new house and I have been spending a lot of time fixing it up.