National Building Museum honors General Services Administration

The National Building Museum Thursday gave the General Services Administration its 2004 Honor Award, celebrating the agency's commitment to architecture.

The annual award is given by the museum to people and institutions that "have made a significant contribution to the built environment." Jill Dixon, director of public affairs for the National Building Museum said that as a government agency, GSA has a particular opportunity to influence buildings, roads, fixtures, parks and all other improvements that form the physical character of a city.

"They are stewards of many buildings in many communities and have a great impact on these communities," Dixon said. "They are helping to shape a positive work space, a positive community, and a positive experience for workers and visitors."

While GSA is charged with meeting the space requirements of the federal government, the agency's Design and Construction Excellence programs have led it to hire "the best private-sector architects and engineers," according to the museum officials. Its buildings have won numerous awards from private organizations such as the Building Owners and Managers Association and the American Institute of Architects.

Officials cited courthouses and border stations as areas where GSA has been particularly innovative. Both types of buildings must balance practicality and a positive atmosphere. According to museum officials, GSA has designed and built border stations that are welcoming to both citizens and visitors, as well as able to respond to heightened security concerns.

Dixon said that the atmosphere of a courthouse is particularly important because of the purpose of the building. "If it has a more open feeling, people can have more trust in what happens there," she said. "If it feels enclosed, people might not feel trusting, or that justice prevails. The building influences how people feel and how they perceive the organizations and GSA understands this."

GSA joins a list of recipients that includes Michael D. Eisner and the Walt Disney Company, the Rockefeller and Pritzker families, and former New York Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan. The award has been given annually since 1986.

GSA Administrator Stephen Perry accepted the award Thursday evening at a black-tie gala in Washington.

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