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Augmenting the Built Environment

How Gensler and Synect created an immersive smart space with augmented reality and digital signage

Image by Sergey Pesterev


Gensler is a global architecture, design, and planning firm with 48 locations and more than 6,000 employees worldwide. The firm’s award-winning Los Angeles office is also a design lab credited for inspiring projects like the San Francisco International Airport and the Shanghai Tower. A hardcover monograph of Gensler’s work sits in the Los Angeles office’s lobby to let clients browse through the firm’s groundbreaking body of work, but it was easily overlooked amidst the building’s bold, modern architecture. 

Gensler wanted visitors to explore their portfolio and experience it in a memorable, immersive way. Their experience design team approached Synect to help drive engagement and bring the book’s contents to life without visibly altering the lobby. Gensler challenged Synect to build an interactive experience on top of the existing environment by seamlessly integrating physical and digital elements.



Synect crafted an approach to deliver on Gensler’s vision for a seamless, immersive experience using augmented reality. The solution called for motion-sensing cameras and hidden projectors, which would enable digital augmentation of the book and the custom table it rested on. An intuitive interaction model would help clients engage with the monograph. Synect planned to integrate with the office’s 4K video wall, to give guests the chance to experience the contents of the book in ultrahigh definition.

Power in Numbers

Image by Sergey Pesterev


Synect created an interactive experience to attract visitors toward the digitally augmented table and book. When a visitor enters the lobby, animations unfold from the book onto the table. As the visitor walks closer, an interface appears on the table, which invites the viewer to control the video wall and digitally explore the monograph’s content. 

“As architects and designers, we try to understand how technology and experiences affect the spaces we design,” Gensler Experience Designer Alan Robles said. “The Multi Surface Experience is a groundbreaking smart space that allows people to interact with their environment in a way that’s never been done before.” The installation enhanced the book with a new layer of digital content and brought it to life on the massive video wall.



The augmented reality installation delighted visitors and invited them to browse through the firm’s groundbreaking body of work though the book or the digital display. Clients and the press were captivated. “We’ve seen touch-friendly tables before, but they’re rarely so slick as the Multi Surface Experience,” Engadget reported. “The magic begins as visitors enter the lobby and walk into an experience that attracts them towards an augmented table and book,” AV Network explained. “The impressive installation demonstrates the possibilities of a seamless integration between physical space and digital experience,” PSFK wrote. Many other outlets featured the installation, including Augmented Reality Trends, Design News, and Digital Signage Connection. 

The augmented reality experience became a source of inspiration for both Gensler and the firm’s clients. “The interactive experience allows Gensler to present its brand communications while demonstrating new ways for companies to engage their clients,” the company’s website states. In addition to the press coverage, the installation won a Digital Screenmedia Crown Award. It also established a benchmark for augmented reality experiences and reinforced Gensler’s position as an innovative, world-leading firm.


Engage Lobby Visitors

Project Goals


Bring the Book to Life


Set a High Bar for Augmented Reality

Project Gallery

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