Steve Gendler of MIS Capital on the Value of Design

July 2, 2019 | Kahn Memorial Lecture
MIS Capital LLC (MIS) is a strong advocate of design located right here in Philadelphia. A proud supporter of the Center for Architecture and Design (CFAD) and the Louis I Kahn Award, MIS develops facilities and provides real estate planning, economic development research, and asset regeneration services on behalf of for profit and not for profit organizations. Their social impact mission is for each project to transform sites and buildings to become more vibrant and sustainable community assets while enhancing the character and quality of life in neighborhoods.
We sat down with MIS co-founder and long-time CFAD board member, Steve Gendler, to talk about design, what it means to MIS to be a good steward of design, and the legacy of Louis I. Kahn in Philadelphia.
CFAD: Why is it important for you and MIS Capital LLC to support the Louis I. Kahn Award?
MIS: The Louis Kahn Award brings the leading and most innovative architects and architecture firms to Philadelphia to celebrate their body of work. But even more important than honoring these bright stars is bringing them to this city and giving Philadelphians the opportunity to learn about some of the more important architectural work being done around the world and envision how it can become a part of the fabric of Philadelphia.
CFAD: How important is design to your company?
MIS: Design is something that is so easily overlooked when it is done well. Good design has a direct and positive impact on people and their communities by breaking down barriers and creating public spaces for inclusiveness which is why it is very important to me and to the social impact mission of MIS.
CFAD: Why do you think the public should demand better design for the buildings in their communities?
MIS: There are a lot of reasons why people should demand better design for the buildings in their communities, from aesthetics to user experience to quality of life – buildings provide a cultural, civic, and social legacy for generations. It is vital that new projects express the values of their function, program, and both current surrounding and future context. Good design can be visionary and a fantastic social connector, while less thoughtful design can miss opportunities for creating pride and bridges between communities.  MIS Capital typically engages communities in their design and program development to ensure that these new projects meet the needs and aspirations of their communities.  
CFAD: When you envision the future of Philadelphia —what are you concerned about most when it comes to the built environment?
MIS: Lack of focus on projects that benefit low-income neighborhoods by improving existing facilities, creating new civic spaces, and/or employment opportunities for those living in the community.
CFAD: What is your favorite building in Philadelphia?
MIS: There are so many great buildings in Philadelphia to choose from, both old and new. In the new category, I like the Singh Center for Nanotechnology; Perry World House; and Lincoln Square, a recent project we completed with BLTa on the Avenue of the Arts that features a design inspired by Josef Albers’ Bauhaus glassworks that interprets Jazz Age syncopation and rhythm (below see Albers’ Fugue, 1925).  Lincoln Square’s roof deck was designed by Cairone and Kaupp Landscape Architects with inspiration by world-renowned Brazilian Landscape Designer Roberto Burle Marx, currently being celebrated by the New York Botanical Garden with the largest retrospective installation in its history. 
CFAD: You have worked with some of the best architects in the world, what inspires you most about working with talented designers?
MIS: Their clarity of thinking and their pursuit of elevated, yet distilled concepts.
Founding Principals of MIS Capital, Steve Gendler and David Colman, have built a strong reputation for developing successful projects that make a lasting contribution to their communities. Their passion for revitalizing existing neighborhoods with compelling new facilities have won them numerous awards and accolades from clients that recognize their commitment to community development.
The images above are from the Lincoln Square. A full square city block site situated on the northwest corner of Broad and Washington Streets, Lincoln Square is one of Philadelphia’s premiere transit-oriented, mixed-use developments. 

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