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Feiner Goes All-In as Las Vegas Sands’ New Chief Architect

February 27, 2008

By Barbara J. Saffir

Esquire magazine hailed Edward A. Feiner, FAIA, as the “most powerful architect in America” when he was chief architect of the General Services Administration’s multibillion-dollar building program, and now he’s on the move—again.  

Feiner left the GSA in January 2005 to manage the Washington, D.C., office of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. Now the cowboy-booted architect is in Las Vegas to work for one of SOM’s clients. On February 27th, Feiner begins his new job as senior vice president and chief architect for the Las Vegas Sands Corporation, an international casino and resort developer perhaps best known for its Italian-inspired casino, the Venetian.

“This was kind of a bigger decision than just switching jobs,” said Gary Haney, the SOM partner who hired Feiner to head its Washington office. “It puts Ed back in a role that he served in the GSA, where he had many well-known architects working for him.”

In a telephone interview from London, Haney said that Feiner “made a huge contribution” to the D.C. office and helped SOM reorganize the entire firm, which has nine offices spread across the globe. It doubled the size of its Washington branch to nearly 400 employees and added liaisons for all design disciplines to its major offices.

Feiner declined to discuss his new job. In a phone message from Las Vegas, he explained: “We’re in a kind of sensitive period right now, so my new employers would really prefer if I don’t say anything extensive at this point.”

Sands spokesman Ron Reese said: “Our policy is that we don’t comment on any hiring or any personnel move.”

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Feiner’s passion for excellence has some recalling what he said in a Wall Street Journal story last year. When a Harris Interactive poll of the public put rival MGM Mirage’s Bellagio on the AIA’s list of the 150 most beloved U.S. buildings he chimed, “The Bellagio—I can’t believe it,” he said. “The Bellagio is tasteless.”

Bronx-bred Feiner is known for creating GSA’s Design Excellence program in 1994, which lured internationally acclaimed architects such as Michael Graves and Charles Gwathmey to design federal buildings.

During his nine years as GSA’s chief architect and 35 years with the federal government, Feiner won countless professional awards, including the American Institute of Architects’ Thomas Jefferson Award for Public Architecture.

At the GSA, Feiner made a maximum annual base salary of $149,200. His private-sector earnings have not been disclosed. Speculation is that Feiner may have entered a new league: his new boss, Sheldon Adelson, is the third richest man in the U.S. with a net worth estimated last year by Forbes magazine at $28 billion.

Feiner earned architecture degrees from The Cooper Union in New York City and the Catholic University of America in Washington. He worked his final day at SOM on February 22, 2008.

 

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