Designing for Democracy: 20 Years of Design Excellence

Designing for Democracy: 20 Years of Design Excellence


Designing for Democracy: Twenty
Years of Design Excellence- MASTER SCRIPT Julie Eizenburg
The fundamental aspect of a federal building is
that it’s for the people. Admiral Peter Marshall Good
design is good for everyone. Julie Snow Public Architecture demands
a great deal of responsibility. Craig Hartman Great architecture
rarely happens with great clients. James Timberlake That’s been
an incredible change in the way that the federal government has
gone about doing their projects. Designing for Democracy: Twenty Years of Design Excellence Craig Hartman
The strongest thing we can do is to do great civic architecture that
reflects the values of our country. Bill Hellmuth If you look throughout history,
from the Romans all the ways through, it’s that arrangement of space that
arrangement of public space and public buildings which are things that we all
see and admire and go back and study and that defines us as a people. Susan Szenasy Each one of us, you, I
everyone has a responsibility to make sure that the build environment is as
beautiful, as efficient, as functional and as representative of
our culture as it can be. Admiral Peter Marshall Good
design is good for everyone. It’s good for the people
that work in the building. It’s good for the people
that visit the building. It’s good for the people that
just pass by the building. Julie Snow Public Architecture demands
a great deal of responsibility. An enormous sense of responsibility about how
you present how we think about the world today. Merrill Elam You are the
fudiciary for the public. You’ve got to carry that forward for the public. That’s the priviledge and responsibility of
an architect in public buildings I believe. Susan Szenasy We need to understand that the
federal government by its very size and power and the richness of its holdings, has probably,
proportionately a bigger responsibility. Music change Ray Huff In the early period of
Federal architecture, you saw a particular style that embraced certain ideals,
certain principles of quality, of understanding of the human
experience and expressing those in a way that really reflects the ideals of our culture. Through a host of means in the 70’s and
60’s that began to change dramatically and then we began to look at Federal
architecture really about expediency. David Childs Architecture was getting
to a point that it was pretty monotonous that there wasn’t innovation and there
was distraction among a whole different of vying interest of how to build buildings. Robert Campbell Most public and civic buildings
were bottom line operations without much concern for anything beyond minimal function done
by a few politically well connected firms. (92 Design Awards book) Eugene Kohn The
quality of the federal design in that time of history was really not of
really significant architecture. When I served on the Design Awards
jury in 92 as chairman of that jury, things hadn’t changed dramatically. And, we just could not find a
project worthy of the awards, so we did not give any new buildings an award. As it turned out, the previous jury
led by Hugh Hardy had not as well. Hugh Hardy it was almost impossible
to talk about high design standards with the crop of stuff that was there. We all found ourselves saying well why not why
couldn’t federal architecture have the high standards it once did. Music change Henry Cobb I like to think
that I was sort of in at the creation of Design Excellence because I had the good
fortune to be selected as the design architect for the Boston Courthouse, the clients
for which were two extraordinary judges, both of whom were passionately committed to
design excellence and passionately committed to the idea that a courthouse
is a public building. Douglas Woodlock We wanted to make this
selection process more attractive for architects who might otherwise not think
about Government work. What we wanted was a person who was concerned
with design in the broadest sense to bring that perspective to bear on a new project. Our view was that the design
of the building would grow out of our conversations with the architect. Henry Cobb The selection process for
the Boston courthouse served as a model for the design excellence selection process. That combination of commitment to the
courthouse as a public building and commitment to design excellence was an
important factor in helping the GSA to get the design excellence program started. Mack Scogin It was a lot of discourse
around where architecture should go at the time, so it was a natural moment. It was just a great moment. Mary Margaret Jones The Design
Excellence program was a game changer. It was an idea that was big and bold and forever
transformed the nature of federal projects. Mack Scogin The intentions of the program
was to try to find people with ideas. They had to perform, that was a given. But they had to push the state of architecture. William Rawn What’s truly amazing is how
the GSA could have developed a program that became enticing to the
countries best architects. You had so many good architects suddenly
interested in doing work for the GSA. Richard Meier What interested me was
the recognition that this was a program that clearly looked to architects
to achieve excellence in design. Music change Robert Seigel GSA has many
processes involved with design excellence. William Rawn Peers play several roles. One of the peers is usually at the
selection process at the very beginning. Joseph Valerio Our role as peer reviewers at
the selection process, is to try to identify that designer that for a given budget and
for a given project schedule will deliver to the federal government, and in turn to the
people of the United States, the highest value. William Rawn Then the peers are brought in at
various important design stages in the project. Kate Diamond There’s a deep bench
of really qualified peer reviewers. Craig Hartman GSA has done a
great job in recruiting peers. Laurie Olin GSA through their peer review, are
able to bring people to elevate the conversation to show them visions that they
don’t know to inspire for. Mehrdad Yazdani I think it’s helpful
to have additional set of eyes who are not either emotionally or
intellectually part of the process, come in and look at the project as a whole. Robert Siegel As a peer reviewer
myself, I truly see myself as an advisor to the architect presenting as opposed to a critic whose trying to
undermine or cut them down. Eddie Jones It was never
critical, it was always productive, good points were raised,
very good points were raised. It caused us to step back
and think a little further. Kate Diamond Really great conversations
and great discussions about the strengths and weaknesses of a project and the analysis. Looking at a project and trying to hone
in what makes it good or bad is amazing. Eugene Kohn It’s nice to see
architects, instead of competing with each other and try to down each other. Come together and help each other to get better
product, better projects, better quality. Bill Browning One of the things that we
see emerging in the GSA is renewed passion for design and caring about design asking deeper
questions beyond conventionally defined well designed buildings or beautiful buildings
but taking a step even further and, and talking about the fundamental performance. Stephen Kieran There is an insistance, in
farely equal terms, that the architecture for the government of the United States, both
perform and then it be beautiful and be moving. Bob Frasca When the whole mission
of sustainability became important, this was really interwoven into
the design excellence program. Craig Hartman Today, you can
not separate sustainability from design excellence, they’re
absolutely intrinsic. Charles Birnbaum What’s also been very
interesting to me is this approach of taking other disciplines, and bring them in
to critique the work that is being put forward. And I don’t really know of
another agency that has done that. Kate Diamond I think it’s very exciting that
now, peer reviews include people with expertise in sustainability, urban designers, landscape
architects, contractors doing peer reviews of construction excellence, the idea
that we can all, always 100 percent of the time improve the quality
of what we are doing. Craig Hartman United States has not always
invested well in our public architecture. And, I think this program is an
example of the positive outcome of making the right kind of investments. Julie Snow GSA is one of the most
sophisticated clients that we have worked for. You have to bring you’re A-team to GSA work
because you are going to have discussions at a higher level than you
have ever had then before. James Timberlake The federal government
has received buildings out of that process that are well above what
they would have gotten 20 – 25 years ago Henry Cobb Design
Excellence is not a one liner. It’s not an event. It’s not about a particular building. It’s about the way that spaces
encourage social use, the way that a building tells
you what it’s about. And in the process of telling you
what it’s about says something about the values that we cherish. Thom Mayne Architecture is a working
relationship that demands negotiation, collaboration to realize something of this type
of significance and whether it’s a courthouse or it’s a federal building, it doesn’t matter. It represents who we are as a culture. It couldn’t be more important. Laurie Olin The federal government
because it has a longer horizon of what the buildings are supposed to be for and for what the purpose of
those public spaces are for. There’s no reason that those aren’t some of
the best we build in this period of history. Craig Hartman The design excellence
program, the GSA launched about 20 years ago, has become one of the most successful
architectural programs in the country. Today, federal projects are the most sought
after projects by all ambitious architects. Without question, the design excellence
program is a great thing for America.

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