Gensler Brings On Disney’s Top Imagineer To Run Experience Design Practice

January 12, 2023 by Dave Haynes

I have absolutely no background or real insight into architectural design, but logic tells me the people who design physical spaces have always factored experience into their designs, going back to the oldest cathedrals and palaces and other monumental structures.

These days, experience directly influences the design of big spaces like airports and rail terminals, and corporate office and public spaces. So it’s really interesting to read that the huge global architecture and design firm Gensler has hired the guy who ran the fabled Walt Disney Imagineering team to lead its Global Immersive Experience Design practice.

A visionary within the entertainment industry, says Gensler in announcing the appointment, Weis brings to Gensler more than 30 years of leadership creating, designing, and developing some of Disney’s most iconic projects around the globe. As people emerge from the global pandemic, demand is greater than ever for engaging, immersive experiences and more meaningful human connections. Weis’ experience in pioneering large-scale groundbreaking and story-driven experiences further expands Gensler’s ability to drive design innovation, offering transformative value to the firm’s more than 4,000 global clients as they look for opportunities to bring people together in new and exciting ways.

“We are thrilled that Bob is joining our global innovation design team. A creative design force, his leadership and expertise in entertainment design will enhance the ways people interact with and thrive in the spaces and experiences we create around the world,” says Gensler co-CEO Andy Cohen. “Now more than ever, design has the power to shape how we experience life. Bob is joining us just as we emerge from the pandemic as people are craving compelling, visceral experiences in the places where they live, work, and play.”

“At Disney, we often collaborated with Gensler, and I was able to see firsthand its culture of design innovation that transforms the quality of life in our world,” says Weis. “This is what visionary companies are seeking, and what we all are yearning for as we interact with the world around us. Gensler’s commitment to leading the future of design is perfectly aligned with my passion for developing unique, immersive experiences with a diversity of creative voices.”

During his time at Disney, Bob led more than 200 major projects around the world with a capital value of more than $30 billion. From the U.S. to Shanghai, Tokyo to Paris, Weis’ design and innovation imprint has been indelibly left on theme parks, attractions and rides, resorts, and cruise ships. He has also consulted with major clients including Smithsonian, National Geographic, NASA, and the United States Navy, among others. Bob has received numerous industry accolades and awards and remains closely connected to his Disney roots.

In his new role, Weis will collaborate with Gensler’s global leadership platform to envision and bring to life unique experiences for clients across a variety of industries where the firm is immersed — from entertainment, lifestyle, hospitality, retail, sports, mixed-use, and cultural institutions to wellness and workplace.

Gensler designs everything from major airports and sports stadiums to rethinks of corporate office spaces, and now regularly builds digital components into the design. Bringing on the guy who led the R&D wing of the world’s biggest theme park operator is an interesting move, as it speaks to the importance of experience design in new builds and big-budget upgrades.

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