Gensler pivot community camaraderie venues


Steve Chung at Coliseum US 2023 Image: Coliseum GSVA

Steve Chung appears to be very passionate about his work as he speaks with a lot of passion as well as panache.

He is the Design Director of the famed global design and architecture firm Gensler, US. He underlines how important it is for venues to engage the community and create a sense of belonging.

Steve Chung enjoys 25 years of experience and has led designs for sporting, training, recreation, and esports facilities that leverage inclusivity, accessibility and performance to create personal growth and community wellness. In his present role in Gensler, Chung approaches each project with a strong design sensibility and a passion for improving the quality of life for all users.

Steve Chung, Design Director and Principal, Gensler, US, in an exclusive animated conversation with ‘Coliseum’, tells how Gensler believes in building on the whole community and the venue together and how design is a game of inches and how important is the human experience. He cites three specific case studies in this regard.

Steve Chung, Design Director and Principal, Gensler, US, is a Member of Coliseum – Global Sports Venue Alliance.


Gensler is a global design and architecture firm headquartered in San Francisco, California. It is the largest architecture firm in the world by revenue and the number of architects. In 2022, Gensler generated $1.785 billion in revenue, the most of any architecture firm in the United States.

Community Engagement Formula

Steve Chung started off by informing that a lot of clients come to Gensler stating that they want to be “better engaged with their communities and wants the venue to be the vehicle for that.”

He asserts that staying connected with the community has two-pronged benefits – “The return on investments and the second more important factor is building loyalty, long-term alignment with the brand. This sense of building oneness with the community also helps to recreate that high level of fan experience.”

Inch By Inch

He reiterated that design is a game of inches and venue operators/owners or a team manager “should demand that extra level of thoughtfulness from the venue designers so that fans love the in-venue experience and the human experience is really meaningful. The venue owners should fight for every inch so that the facility is used 365 days in a year.”

Creatively Flexible

Added Chung, “Venue owners/operators should also demand creative flexibility and nix down cookie cutters. The stadium should always exude that sense of belonging and can really embrace and create that sense of oneness with the fan base.”

Chung averred that Gensler gives the community top priority while going about the task of designing a venue and “wants sports teams to do good to their communities”.

Case Studies


Snapdragon Stadium

He said with a sense of pride, “The 35,000-capacity Snapdragon Stadium in San Diego, California (US) has an all-embracing quality about it and it also gives the feeling to spectators that their culture is being embraced. The venue space being used apart from soccer fixtures and concerts for another 150 times a year gives a sense of belonging to the people. It is all about how meticulous planning can lure fans in and this is what we exactly did with the Snapdragon Stadium.”

Moody Center

Continued Chung, “The 15,000+-capacity Moody Center in Austin, Texas (US) is the second collegiate benchmark stadium that we built and we have kind of raised the bar in terms of what to expect in these kinds of facilities – creative innovation and flexibility. We came up with this system in the Moody Center that we have not seen anywhere else where the panels pivot up and back down that are acoustically transparent. This is all about being more thoughtful about the fans which we try to do through our designs.”

Communities Of All Sizes

Chung commented that the Snapdragon Stadium best exemplifies the fact that the “venue is for communities of all sizes and was asked to replicate the same idea in the Moody Center. The idea that the venue is a place where communities of all sizes can gather – small business owners to high network individuals to people who have been associated with the program for a long time – and the venue must be a place where people must be unanimous in their feelings about caring about the community in which they live. The venue should be so designed that it appeals to a broader section of the community.”

Las Vegas Aces Training Facility

A beaming-with-pride Chung concluded, “The training facility that we built for the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) team Las Vegas Aces has set the benchmark as regards what design firms should think from a women’s professional sports perspective. We have made it a women-specific facility avoiding stereotypes. We focused not on a make-up room for the players but looking into every single detail and providing the best-of-breed amenities and the other support facilities so that it helps the athletes to climb high up the sports ladder. It is much more than just a WNBA practice facility.”


Steve Chung firmly believes that the venue is a place where communities can meet, connect and communicate and informed decisions should be made while designing a stadium so that they can serve as the conduits for relationship building and knowledge exchange.

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