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Feiner to Retire as General Services Administration's Chief Architect

After ten years of significant progress as the federal government’s design leader, Ed Feiner, FAIA, announced yesterday that he will retire as the U.S. General Services Administration’s Chief Architect at the end of this month.

Feiner, who first joined the GSA in 1981 and became its top architect in 1996, was highly influential in establishing and then heading the GSA’s Design Excellence Program, started in 1993. The program helped streamline and improve the architectural selection process for federal buildings by facilitating architects’ application and improving the jury participation. Design Excellence, he notes, reduced applying firms' paperwork from 25,000 pages to about 50, and shrunk fees from $30,000 to $3,000. By the end of Feiner’s tenure, the program had helped hire top architects and firms like Antoine Predock, Cesar Pelli, Tom Mayne, Richard Meier, Charles Gwathmey, Moshe Safdie, Harry Cobb, Arquitectonica , David Childs, Lake/Flato, Carol Ross Barney and Michael Graves.


Feiner adds that he strove to export the GSA’s increased commitment to architecture as “a quality of life issue in the public realm,” encouraging state governments and all public entities to raise their aesthetic standards for the good of their constituents.

Prior to joining GSA in 1981, Mr. Feiner served as program manager of the U.S. Navy’s shore establishment master planning program at the Naval Facilities Engineering Command. Earlier in his career, Feiner worked for Gruen Associates as well as M. Paul Friedberg and Associates. He also taught Architectural Technology for over 10 years at the Northern Virginia Community College. Feiner was awarded the Thomas Jefferson Award for Public Architecture by the AIA in 1996.

Though he has been rumored to be a candidate for the AIA helm, Feiner says he is interested in pursuing a role in private practice. “I’ve always kidded that after I put the private sector architects through torture and peer review that I wanted to be in the back room after we were finished helping to be part of the design team,” says Feiner, who plans to stay in Washington, D.C. He says he plans to advocate for design quality and for stressing architecture’s importance.

Sam Lubell