Lamar Johnson is co-managing principal of Gensler’s North Central Region, providing leadership to the Chicago, La Crosse, Detroit and Minneapolis offices, and a member of the firm-wide Management Committee. After spending 12 years in Gensler’s Denver office, Lamar opened the Chicago office in 1998 with a staff of four, and since then it has grown to over 290 employees.
Throughout his long and admirable career, he has built relationships and garnered trust from throughout the industry – becoming the go-to-guy for advice or help in advancing initiatives for non-profits and cultural institutions. In 2016, Lamar was named firm-wide Director of Community Impact for Gensler. In this role, Lamar oversees and leads the firm’s community involvement efforts across the globe.
Lamar Johnson’s leadership inspires a firm-wide culture of civic service, while personally driving pro-bono delivery of transformational projects and initiatives; simultaneously lifting the human spirit while creating distinguished architecture for mission-driven community organizations.
Lamar opened the Chicago office of Gensler in 1998 with four people. He brought with him a set of values that he consistently models for the staff: prime among them is the obligation to give back to the profession and the community. His low-key, charismatic leadership has created a culture of participation and commitment to pro bono service and volunteer-ism that is unmatched in the Chicago architecture community, if not beyond. Currently the 275-person staff volunteers at more than 80 not-for-profit, civic and charitable institutions in the metro area, contributing more than 20,000 hours to these activities over the last few years. As a lauded practice manager, sought-after philanthropist and true humanitarian, his contributions to the advancement of the profession set the highest examples of excellence, challenging us all to give back in immeasurable ways.
Knowing that strong communities are vital to a just society, Lamar has contributed his expertise and spirit to enhance Chicago’s civic and charitable causes far beyond delivering great architecture. He doesn’t “carve out” time for these activities; he integrates them into all he does.
As a trustee since 2007 and current vice chair of the Adler Planetarium, Lamar generously supports this Chicago institution that inspires space exploration.
Developing a long-term partnership with the Marwen Foundation, he has helped make it possible for hundreds of disadvantaged youth to train and advance in the visual arts.
In 2007, Lamar co-founded “Big Ed Bowl” in memory of Ed Erhardt, a friend and colleague who died of melanoma. Since launching the fund raiser, over $1 Million has been raised for research to cure cancer and Parkinson’s.
In recognition of this and more, Lamar received the 2008 Spirit of Life® Award for philanthropic endeavors from City of Hope, an organization dedicated to the research and treatment of cancer. As honorary chairman that year, Lamar led the effort to raise a record-breaking $500,000. Through civic board service and advisor roles on various City of Chicago task forces and commissions, particularly World Business Chicago, he is enabling architecture and design to more broadly shape the future of our cities.