Architect making false claims, former employer says
An international architecture firm with an office in Chicago says a former employee who now has his own Chicago-based firm has claimed to have designed some of his onetime employer's most famous buildings, a claim which is not true.
M. Arthur Gensler, Jr. & Associates, Inc., a San Francisco-based architecture firm with an office in downtown Chicago, claims in a suit filed in federal court Thursday that onetime employee Jay Marshall Strabala has "repeatedly and willfully misrepresented the true origin and source of certain architectural and design services, falsely claiming to be the designer of a number of projects that were, in fact, designed by Gensler."
Additionally, Gensler says, Strabala has "misrepresented the nature of his contribution, if any, to certain design projects while intentionally minimizing or entirely omitting the nature of Gensler's contribution."
Since leaving Gensler, where he was an architect from 2006 to 2010, Strabala in 2010 founded 2Define Architecture, based at 860 N. Lake Shore Dr. in Chicago.
Strabala, according to the suit, "owns and controls 2Define Architecture, and is the only licensed architect at 2Define Architecture."
According to 2Define's website, Strabala's firm "specializes in complex high profile projects." It also states, "Marshall Strabala is an award-winning designer with 25 years of architectural experience. He is a noted expert in the design of office buildings, mixed-use high-rises, convention centers and performing arts centers. Marshall has completed award winning projects from Europe to the Middle East and to Asia including high profile projects in Beijing, Seoul, Dubai, London, Hong Kong and Saudi Arabia."
The website says Strabala,"since graduating from Harvard ... has design (sic) three of the ten tallest buildings in the world, The Burj Khalifa at 828m (2,715ft) the Shanghai Tower at 632m (2,073ft) and the Greenland Zifang Tower at 450m (1,485ft)."
But according to Gensler, "with regard to at least the Shanghai Tower, this statement is misleading, falsely indicates that (Strabala), not Gensler, is the source of the architectural and design services rendered in designing the Shanghai Tower, and is an effort by (Strabala) to wrongfully take credit for Gensler's work and services performed by Gensler personnel." The suit explains that "the Gensler team that designed the Shanghai Tower included approximately one hundred people who devoted significant time to the project. (Strabala) was one of many members of that Gensler team. Gensler, not (Strabala), is the source of the architectural and design services rendered in designing the Shanghai Tower."
Gensler also says that elsewhere, such as on Strabala's flickr website, he claims to have designed structures such as the Hess Tower, an approximately 990,000 square foot office building in Houston, and the Houston Ballet Center for Dance, a six-story, 115,000 square foot building, also in Houston. "The Gensler team that designed Hess Tower included over twenty people who devoted significant time to the project," the suit says. "Gensler, not (Strabala), is the source of the architectural and design services rendered in designing Hess Tower." The suit also says, "The Gensler team that designed the Center for Dance included over a dozen people who devoted significant time to the project. (Strabala) was one of many members of that Gensler team."
Gensler wants an injunction to prevent Strabala from making any false or misleading claims about the work he did at Gensler, as well as to "place corrective advertising" on his firm's website and his flickr site, in addition to other unspecified damages.
No one at 2define could be reached for comment Thursday afternoon.
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