GSA honors innovative federal building designs

Other than the Supreme Court and the U.S. Capitol, federal buildings aren't commonly known for their architectural beauty. But some new buildings around the country are proving to be just as postcard-worthy as the Capitol Hill mainstays. Federal courthouses, ports of entry, office buildings and laboratories that are changing the stereotypes associated with civic architecture were honored Thursday as winners of the 2000 General Services Administration Design Awards. GSA gives the awards out every two years to recognize excellence in federal building projects. Award categories are architecture, architecture on-the-boards, engineering/technology/energy, landscape architecture, preservation/conservation, art, graphic design, construction excellence and security and openness. Three of this year's award winners were among the first projects designed under GSA's Design Excellence Program, begun in 1994 to change the way architects and artists are chosen for large federal building projects. Under the program, selection panels composed of design professionals are brought in to review portfolios and make recommendations to federal officials on contracts for new buildings and renovations. The U.S. courthouse in Central Islip, N.Y., the Lloyd D. George courthouse in Las Vegas and the Sandra Day O'Connor courthouse in Phoenix are all products of the Design Excellence Program. This year's Design Award winners are highlighted in an exhibit at the National Building Museum in Washington. The exhibition "reveals the tremendous shift that the design of federal buildings has undergone in recent years. Gone are the unimaginative eyesores of the 1960s. They have been replaced by buildings with daring and inspired designs," Alan Stump, project manager for D.C.-based general contractor SIGAL Construction, said Wednesday at the exhibition opening. Federal design was largely ignored from the 1950s until the 1980s, due to public pressure against government spending, exhibition curator David Gissen wrote in the introduction to the exhibition. But the project winners, "through their materiality, form or compositional technique--assert that federal design is once again exciting and meaningful," Gissen wrote. The 2000 GSA Design Award winners are:
  • Sandra Day O'Connor Courthouse, Phoenix (Architecture)
  • Lloyd D. George Courthouse, Las Vegas, Calif. (Architecture)
  • U.S. Courthouse and Federal Building, Central Islip, N.Y. (Architecture)
  • U.S. Geological Survey Chiller Replacement, Reston, Va. (Engineering/Technology/Energy)
  • Jurisprudents at Melvin Price U.S. Courthouse, East St. Louis, Ill. (Art)
  • Charles Evans Whittaker U.S. Courthouse, Kansas City, Mo. (Construction Excellence)
  • U.S. Port of Entry, Blaine, Wash. (Construction Excellence)

Citations also went to:

  • William J. Nealon Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse, Scranton, Pa. (Architecture)
  • U.S. Courthouse, Hammond, Ind. (Architecture on-the-boards)
  • U.S. Port of Entry, Sault Sainte Marie, Mich. (Architecture on-the-boards)
  • Phillip Burton Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse Plaza, San Francisco (Landscape Architecture/Security)
  • David Skaggs Federal Building, Boulder, Colo. (Engineering/Technology/Energy)
  • Restoration of George Segal sculpture, "The Restaurant," Buffalo, N.Y. (Preservation/Conservation)
  • Urns of Justice at U.S. Courthouse, Lafayette, La. (Art)
  • Print materials for dedication of Tom Otterness sculpture, Rockman, Minn. (Graphic Design)
  • IRS Computing Center works of art brochure (Graphic Design)

The National Building Museum exhibition, "Federal Design Now! GSA 2000 Design Awards," will be on display through July 8.

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