Creating Places That Express Brands and Values

HOUSTON – Ralph Bivins of Realty News Report: The latest episode of THE RALPH BIVINS PROJECT features an interview with branding specialist Jerry Alexander, co-managing director and principal of the Houston office of the Gensler architecture, design and planning firm.


RALPH BIVINS :Welcome, this is Ralph Bivins with the Ralph Bivins Project. Be sure to check out our website, for daily news and to keep up with our publications.

Today, we’re going to talk about an interesting topic – brand. Branding is the intersection of graphic design, architecture and real estate, where a company’s logo is displayed and embodied into the built environment. This is the place where you integrate all things and help companies express what they do.

With us is Jerry Alexander. He’s the global leader of the brand design practice for Gensler, which has offices in 50 cities around the world: it’s a very big architectural firm. Jerry was just named co-managing director of the local office in Houston.

RALPH BIVINS: Jerry, What does your brand design practice entail? 

JERRY ALEXAANDER: Actually, you had a really good description of it. We integrate with architecture, graphics, signage, logos and all that, within a company’s culture and a company’s values. How does a company express itself and how does it express itself at every touchpoint where someone might encounter it? You might think about this when you are considering consumer packaged goods. For us as architects and interior designers, we look at it differently. How do our buildings, spaces, colors, textures and lighting — how does all this speak together holistically about a company’s values, mission and character? I think that’s brand. And then the brand practice is kind of the idea of integrating that into all our projects to bring this story telling, this narrative, early on in a strategic way. This way, everybody on the team – stakeholders, designers, consultants – are all allowed one story, kind of one direction. If you do this right, it’s a great glue to help hold things together and give everyone a path.

RALPH BIVINS: You are also involved in another project, Memorial Town Square in West Houston. Can you tell us what’s going on there?

JERRY ALEXANDER: It’s in West Houston, adjacent to Memorial City Mall. What we’re doing is a fantastic design, low-scale, intimate, a lot of landscaping. It will be very walkable, very community oriented. It’s outdoors, too. So, it’s going to be a celebration of this area with beautiful trees and landscaping; modest, quaint character buildings that provide great space. If you can do that, and our clients at MetroNational have just been fantastic. You just capture that vision and stay on the path. Buildings, landscape, paving, signage, everything will be delivered on this great community piece that will be an absolutely great place to go and hang out.

It will actually have a town square in the middle. They’ve done a great job recently of creating other little green spaces. These spaces, when they are done on the right scale, get magical when you surround them with the right uses, restaurants and things. This is going to be beautiful, and it’s going to be very green.

RALPH BIVINS:  An old Sears Store was connected to the mall – and that’s gone. It’s amazing, you could probably write a book about what has happened to Sears stores and their real estate in the United States.

JERRY ALEXANDER:They were at the forefront of some of these developments. Small cities grew up around these Sears developments.

RALPH BIVINS: We also have the Ion project that Rice University is doing in a big, old Sears building in midtown.

JERRY ALEXANDER: We are actually part of that development, and I’ve got to tell you, it’s an amazing building as well. It’s a great concept. Rice and Ion are onto something special there.

RALPH BIVINS: In the downtown, of course, there’s the redevelopment of Houston Center. What’s happening there?

JERRY ALEXANDER: Actually, that is something I’ve been working on for about five years and it continues to go, with our clients at Brookfield Properties. We moved in and did Houston Center, Phase 1 and 2, along with the podium and the ground floor.  We have moved our offices in.  We will have two floors.

Ralph, it is such a unique space. We have double and triple high-volume space in an area that was once space for the public. It is now part of our office space. Our research library looks through large trusses into public space and into a plaza – no glass, no walls, it’s fantastic. I love it because our offices are so connected to adjacent spaces. And we continue to work on it.

Across the street, we are working on the shops, completely renovating them. In the end, this will be a renovated five-block section of downtown.

We got our office finished in March of 2020. (He chuckles about the proximate arrival of COVID) So, we moved in and a few weeks later, we moved out. Now, we’re back.

Jerry Alexander’s biography

Jerry is Gensler Houston’s co-managing director and principal and serves as the firm’s global leader of the brand design practice. Throughout his career, he has directed and managed projects across many disciplines, including brand identity development, environmental graphics, hospitality, industrial, marketing and advertising, mixed-use, packaging, product design and retail/restaurant development.

With 30 years of brand design experience coupled with an architectural background, Jerry utilizes a holistic approach that ensures his innovative solutions bring each client’s brand to life at every customer touchpoint. He founded and co-led Acumen Design, a uniquely creative branding agency based in Houston, for 20 years.

This year, Gensler Houston — the second office for the global, 50-office firm — is celebrating its 50th anniversary since opening in downtown’s Pennzoil Place in 1972.


July 12, 2022 – Realty News Report Copyright 2022


LISTEN: THE RALPH BIVINS PROJECT podcast with Jerry Alexander of Gensler

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LISTEN: THE RALPH BIVINS PROJECT podcast with  Mike Spears of Lee & Associates Houston

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File: Gensler.Creating Places That Express Brands and Corporate Values


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