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GSA Bestows Design Awards for Federal Buildings

April 23, 2009

By Tim McKeough

The U.S. General Services Administration recently announced the recipients of its 2008 Design Awards, a biennial program intended to showcase the best examples of federal government architecture. Two projects designed by Morphosisóthe Wayne Lyman Morse U.S. Courthouse in Eugene, Oregon, and the San Francisco Federal Buildingówere the stand-out winners: both received architecture honor awards and cleaned up in several other categories.

Wayne Lyman Morse U.S. Courthouse
Photo © Frank Ooms/courtesy GSA
Wayne Lyman Morse U.S. Courthouse

Projects completed in the past five years were eligible for this year’s awards. A jury of 11 professional peers, chaired by Los Angeles-based architect Mehrdad Yazdani, selected 18 winners in 13 different categories. All were honored during a March 19 ceremony at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, D.C.

This year marks the 15th anniversary of the GSA’s Design Excellence Program, which uses a private-sector peer review process during concept development, and has been credited with greatly improving federal architecture. With a significant number of projects funded by the economic stimulus package now in the pipeline—including $5.5 billion in new GSA projects—showcasing exemplary contemporary government buildings is perhaps more important than ever.

“We want to make sure that design excellence is an integral part of all the stimulus work that we do,” says Thomas Grooms, GSA’s director of design excellence and the arts. Chief architect Leslie Shepherd adds that the agency is actively preparing for increased activity. “We’ve been on the phone, talking to regional architects about how we can meet their schedules, because we need to do this work relatively quickly,” she says.

The GSA’s awards program isn’t merely about recognizing people for a job well done. It also serves an audit function, where the jury members “give us a sort of state of the union, if you will, about what’s not working well,” explains Shepherd. This year, the jury highlighted a number of areas for improvement, including landscape architecture, interior design, and lease-construction projects (where the agency works with private developers). By taking such a critical look at existing projects, Shepherd says, the GSA hopes to continue building better in the future.

GSA 2008 Design Award Winners

Architecture
Honor
Wayne Lyman Morse U.S. Courthouse
Eugene, Oregon
Morphosis

San Francisco Federal Building
San Francisco, California
Morphosis

Citation
U.S. Courthouse
Springfield, Massachusetts
Moshe Safdie and Associates

U.S. Land Port of Entry
Raymond, Montana
Hammond Beeby Rupert Ainge Architects 

Architecture – On The Boards
Citation
U.S. Courthouse
Austin, Texas
Mack Scogin Merrill Elam Architects

U.S. Land Port of Entry
Donna, Texas
Hodgetts + Fung Design and Architecture

U.S. Land Port of Entry
Warroad, Minnesota
Julie Snow Architects

U.S. Land Port of Entry
Massena, New York
Smith-Miller + Hawkinson Architects

Lease Construction
Citation
U.S. Courthouse
Alpine, Texas
PageSoutherlandPage

Modernization
Citation
Byron G. Rogers U.S. Courthouse
Denver, Colorado
Bennett Wagner & Grody Architects

Richard Bolling Federal Building
Kansas City, Missouri
Helix Architecture + Design

Preservation
Honor
U.S. Post Office and Courthouse
Brooklyn, New York
Kliment Halsband Architects

Landscape Architecture
Citation
Anthony J. Celebrezze Federal Building
Cleveland, Ohio 
Olin

Sustainability
Honor
San Francisco Federal Building
San Francisco, California
Morphosis, Arup

Construction Excellence
Honor
Wayne Lyman Morse U.S. Courthouse
Eugene, Oregon
JE Dunn Construction Northwest, Morphosis

Art in Architecture
Honor
Wayne Lyman Morse U.S. Courthouse
Eugene, Oregon
Matthew Ritchie, Sean Healy, Kristin Timken, Cris Bruch

Signage Design
Citation
Wayne Lyman Morse U.S. Courthouse
Eugene, Oregon
Mayer/Reed

Graphic Design
Citation
GSA Art in Architecture book
Washington, D.C.
Cox & Associates

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