Posts tagged with "GSA":

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On beauty, value, and justice in federal architecture in America

This past week, a frenzied debate has erupted in response to “Making Federal Buildings Beautiful Again,” a draft executive order that, if adopted, would effectively mandate “the classical architectural style” for U.S. federal buildings. Assembled by the National Civic Art Society, a little-known organization dedicated to the promotion of classical architecture and design, the order proposes to rewrite the US General Services Administration’s (GSA) “Guiding Principles for Federal Architecture,” a three-point policy document written in 1962 by the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, then Special Assistant to the Secretary of Labor, to focus the architectural ambitions of the GSA. Moynihan’s first and third directives aim squarely at design, insisting that federal buildings “reflect the dignity, enterprise, vigor, and stability of the American National Government” and that careful consideration be given to the building site and the layout of adjacent streets, public spaces, and landscape. His second speaks more generally to matters of architectural style:
The development of an official style must be avoided. Design must flow from the architectural profession to the Government. And not vice versa. […] The advice of distinguished architects ought to, as a rule, be sought prior to the award of important design contracts.
The crux of MFBBA’s argument is that Moynihan’s second principle precludes his first. By granting authority on matters of style to architects, it claims, the Guiding Principles supplant the preferences of the American people with “the architectural profession’s reigning orthodoxy.” This, it continues, “implicitly discouraged classical and other designs known for their beauty,” and sanctioned instead modernist, Brutalist, and Deconstructivist buildings which “have little aesthetic appeal,” citing work by Marcel Breuer, Mack Scogin Merrill Elam Architects, Morphosis, and others as examples. In so doing, the order claims, “the Federal government has largely stopped building beautiful buildings that the American people want to look at or work in.” To encourage the design of buildings that inspire “admiration” instead of “public derision,” the order proposes that “in the National Capital [sic] Region and for all Federal courthouses, the classical architectural style shall be the preferred and default style absent special extenuating factors necessitating another style.” While this technically leaves open the possibility of non-traditional design, MFBBA sets an extremely high bar for its approval. Brutalism, Deconstructivism, and their derivatives (specified by extremely problematic, open-ended definitions) are excluded outright. Other non-traditional buildings would be permitted to move forward only with approval from the president, who must first be provided with a detailed explanation of “whether such design is as beautiful… as alternative designs of comparable cost in a traditional architectural style.” The term beauty, or one of its derivatives, appears twelve times in MFBBA’s seven pages. Though it is not included in the document’s list of definitions, it is used throughout to signify those qualities that give pleasure to the senses and the intellect. At its core, then, this debate is about more than just architectural style. It is about publicly funded pleasure. The art critic Dave Hickey similarly locates the essence of beauty in pleasure. In his 2009 essay, “American Beauty,” he finds it primarily in the “pleasant surprises” one encounters in everyday life. Such pleasure, whether derived from monumental architecture, a clear blue sky, or a perfectly executed jump shot, often leads people—Americans in particular—to dialog. “Beautiful!” someone exclaims, moved by an arresting object or experience. Others respond, sometimes in agreement, sometimes in dissent. Chatter ensues, occasionally moving toward the consensus from which societies are built. “American beauty is inextricable from its optimal social consequence,” Hickey writes, “our membership in a happy coalition of citizens who agree on what is beautiful, valuable, and just.” In American society, beauty, value, and justice are determined similarly—through the often-contentious debates we conduct in Congress, in court, in the press, in the marketplace, at school, at home, and out in the street. Given the complexity of these collective conversations (and the difficulty of surprising oneself), we often turn to trained experts—elected representatives, lawyers, cultural critics, brokers, artists, architects, and others—to generate possibilities and look after our interests. Though it often seeks guidance in expert opinion, American society is not based on timeless values, religious doctrine, or ancient edicts. It is based on mutual agreement. With the Declaration of Independence, Americans mutually agreed to their collective right to pursue “pleasant surprises” and other forms of happiness, and to tentatively ascribe power to the government to secure that right. This is where it gets complicated. As Hickey points out, every pleasant surprise is an occasion for change, an opportunity to renegotiate our collective agreement regarding what we hold to be beautiful, valuable, and just. Such activity always threatens the stability of the status quo, which is why authoritarian societies often attempt to neutralize such threats by outlawing idiosyncrasy and mandating familiarity. MFBBA adopts exactly this authoritarian posture, though its authors undoubtedly would point to their populist invocations of “the public” and to their proposal that all GSA architectural competitions convene public panels that exclude design and construction professionals as evidence of their efforts to foster exactly the sort of open debate I am advocating. Such arguments would ring false. With their thumb firmly on the scale from the outset, MFBBA’s authors decide in advance the outcome of public deliberation on federal buildings. Their message is clear: When it comes to the most hallowed spaces of our democracy, the American debate on beauty—and by extension, on value and justice – is settled. The authors of “Make Federal Buildings Beautiful Again” thus work entirely on the side of entrenched authority, and rightly recognize the federal buildings of Breuer, Morphosis, Scogin, Elam, and others as subtly subversive. These works signal that the brilliance of American democracy issues from its accommodation of periodic reinvention, from our collective agreement that what we held to be beautiful, valuable, and just yesterday may not align with what we will hold to be so tomorrow. This is not to say that progressive architecture best represents our union, or that classically derived designs can no longer embody American values. It is merely to recognize, as Daniel Moynihan did, that we would do well to continue to draw on “the finest contemporary American architectural thought” to help us determine the best way forward, and to remember that the “dignity, enterprise, vigor, and stability” of the American government obtains from the right of its citizens to perpetually renegotiate the terms by which we are governed, to reimagine the values we wish to uphold, and to freely pursue the subversive pleasures of beauty. Todd Gannon is the Robert S. Livesey Professor and head of the architecture section at The Ohio State University’s Knowlton School.
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AIA rejects Trump’s draft order for uniform federal architecture style

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) issued a response yesterday to the potential executive order that could force all future federal buildings to be designed in the neoclassical style.  On Twitter, the organization rejected the Trump administration’s proposal, stating:
“The AIA strongly opposes uniform style mandates for federal #architecture. Architecture should be designed for the specific communities that it serves, reflecting our rich nation’s diverse places, thought, culture, and climates. Architects are committed to honoring our past as well as reflecting our future progress, protecting the freedom of thought and expression that are essential to democracy.” 
Yesterday, Architectural Record published news that it had access to a draft of the White House order which implied that the President wanted the Guiding Principles of Federal Architecture to be rewritten in favor of creating a singular style. Neoclassicism, the design style that the founding fathers chose for the U.S. Capitol, would become the “preferred and default style” under this new rule and would change the core value of the General Service Administration’s Design Excellence Program Rather than pre-qualified architects receiving the chance to design uniquely-contemporary federal structures for the cities they serve, all future government buildings would instead be reminiscent of the monumental, white construction that has defined Washington, D.C., since its inception, as well as the structures built-in ancient Rome and Greece, and more recently, in Hitler’s Third Reich. Tradition is beautiful, the order argued; modernism (especially Brutalism and Deconstructivism) is ugly. Case in point: the draft order was titled “Make Federal Buildings Beautiful Again.” Numerous classicism-loving groups feel the same way. On Twitter, several accounts called out the AIA for showing its “true colors,” accusing the organization of being opposed to “beauty and tradition.” Fast Company spoke to Steven Heller, co-chair of the MFA design program at the School of Visual Arts, who clarified that it’s not uncommon for governments to impose a preferred design style as a way to indicate authority. Think the projects built during the Works Progress Administration under FDR.  Still, Heller said this move by the White House signals a larger issue: “When one design style is preferred over another, that may be construed as an aesthetic preference,” he told Fast Company. “But when it is linked to a presidential act of decree, especially a president that exhibits authoritarian tendencies, then there is reason for alarm. We tend to ignore the nuances of power, like graphics and architecture styles, until it’s too late.”  
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[Updated] Potential executive order might force neoclassical style on federal buildings

Update 2/6/20: The Chicago Sun-Times published the full draft executive order yesterday. Read the 8-page document here Among the top news headlines in the country today, the Trump administration apparently hates contemporary architecture.  Architectural Record has reportedly obtained a draft executive order titled, “Making Federal Buildings Beautiful Again,” in which the White House will dictate that all future government structures be designed in the neoclassical style. It would force the General Service Administration (GSA) to rewrite the Guiding Principles for Federal Architecture, which it has used as the basis of its Design Excellence Program since 1962, while requiring all new and upgraded federal buildings to be designed in the antiquated “preferred and default style.”  Originally written by former New York Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, the principals distinctly noted that when it comes to federal architecture, “an official style must be avoided” and that any new structures must reflect the time period in which they are designed. “Design must flow from the architectural profession to the Government, and not vice versa,” Moynihan wrote at the time. Throughout the last six decades, high-profile architects have relished the opportunity to make their stamp on the U.S. government. To Moynihan, the collaboration between architecture, the fine arts, and public officials was to be viewed as part of upholding democracy.  But it appears that Trump wants to say goodbye to designing for democracy and more specifically, to Brutalism and Deconstructivism, according to the draft. While it’s no secret that the President dislikes Brutalism—he’s previously decried that the FBI’s downtown Washington, D.C., headquarters should be remodeled or demolished. The FBI’s J. Edgar Hoover Building, designed by Charles F. Murphy and Associates, sits directly across Pennsylvania Avenue from the Trump International Hotel, a historic, romanesque revival building. Many hotels in the Trump chain feature glass and steel, similar to those found in New York and Chicago.  Several high-design federal buildings throughout various U.S. cities, according to the draft order, have “little aesthetic appeal,” Record noted, and don’t embody the country’s “self-governing ideals.” Among those citied were San Francisco’s U.S. Federal Building by Morphosis and Miami’s Wilkie D. Ferguson, Jr. U.S. Courthouse by Arquitectonica. Both were built in 2007 and stand boxy and tall, featuring modern materials such as metal rainscreens on the former and a glass curtain wall on the latter.  Trump’s turn to classicism, though semi-surprising, shouldn’t completely catch architects off guard, however. Back in 2018, AN reported that he had appointed a staunch classicist to the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts (and another one as late as last December) in favor of securing approval on future neoclassical projects. The draft order documents that President Trump aims to create a Committee for the Re-Beautification of Federal Architecture as well, which is reminiscent of the late Sir Roger Scruton’s push to build more beautiful homes and communities throughout the United Kingdom in a self-avowed anti-modernist fashion.  The news comes just one week after the GSA’s Chief Architect and Director of Design Excellence, David Insinga, reportedly resigned from his post. He had served largely under the Trump administration since December 2016 and made it clear from the start that he sought to improve sustainability and reduce energy usage across federal buildings. So far, Insinga has not commented on his departure.
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Will the GSA cut ties with Trump over his Old Post Office hotel?

[3/29/2017 UPDATE: GSA finds Trump Organization in compliance with the Old Post Office lease.] The General Services Administration yesterday announced that it will seek "additional information that explains and describes any new organizational structure as it applies to the Old Post Office lease. Upon receipt, consistent with our treatment of any contract to which we are a party, we will review this new organizational structure and determine its compliance with all the terms and conditions of the lease." The statement comes on the heels of an announcement by the President-Elect that he will be handing over control of the Trump Organization to his two adult sons, breaking with the tradition that U.S. Presidents place their businesses in a blind trust. The Old Post Office—which was redeveloped by the Trump Organization and is now the Trump International Hotel—has been at the center of the conflict-of-interest controversy since Trump was elected, as many diplomatic events have taken place there. The GSA cites the language in their lease with the Trump Organization, which was signed by both parties in August of 2013: The full language of section 37.19 is below: No member or delegate to Congress, or elected official of the Government of the United States or the Government of the District of Columbia, shall be admitted to any share or part of this Lease, or to any benefit that may arise therefrom; provided, however, that this provision shall not be construed as extending to any Person who may be a shareholder or other beneficial owner of any publicly held corporation or other entity, if this Lease is for the general benefit of such corporation or other entity. The GSA had previously said they would withhold judgment about how to proceed with the Old Post Office until Trump announced his relationship to his business. Now that he has revealed his intentions to defy convention and not use a blind trust, will further review cause the GSA to cut ties with the Trump Organization if it's in contempt of the above statement, or will the GSA find that Trump has separated himself enough from the business? It will also be interesting to watch who Trump appoints as the head of the GSA, which will have an enormous impact on this project.
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Thomas Phifer and Partners’ elegantly functional box saturated in daylight

The 10-story courthouse includes ten courtrooms for the District Court of Utah, fourteen judges’ chamber suites,  administrative Clerk of the Court offices, the United States Marshal Service, United States Probation, and other federal agencies.

Thomas Phifer and Partners recently completed a United States Courthouse in Salt Lake City for the General Services Administration (GSA). The 400,000 sq. ft. project consists of a blast resistant shell clad with a custom designed anodized aluminum sun screen. The screen is arranged in four configurations dependent on solar orientation, performing as a direct heat gain blocker on the south facades, while subtly changing to a louvered fin configuration on the east and west facades. The architects won the project in a national competition in the late nineties, however it was just recently completed. Thomas Phifer, Director of Thomas Phifer and Partners, says that during the duration of the project various site changes occurred, and the building design naturally evolved into a particular focus: “We began to think about a building that embodied light as a metaphor for the enlightenment of the courts. It began to fill these spaces inside the courtrooms, the judges chambers. The design came from a sense of light.”
  • Facade Manufacturer Benson Global (curtain wall)
  • Architects Thomas Phifer and Partners, Naylor Wentworth Lund Architects (executive architect)
  • Facade Installer Okland Construction
  • Facade Consultants Reaveley Engineers + Associates (structural engineering), Weidlinger Associates (blast engineering)
  • Location Salt Lake City, UT
  • Date of Completion 2014
  • System Aluminum and Glass Unitized Curtain Wall, Insulating Glass with Ceramic Frit Screen, Anodized Extruded and Milled Aluminum Sun Screen, Mirror Polished Stainless Steel Plate, Thermal Finish White Granite
  • Products Benson Global (Anodized Aluminum Curtain Wall), Southwest Architectural Metals (Metal Specialties), Beehive Glass Inc. (Glass Specialties), Viracon, St. Gobain (Glass), Sierra White Granite (Cold Spring Granite Stone)
Phifer said a precedent for the project is Donald Judd’s 100 untitled works in mill aluminum (1982-1986). In Judd’s project, each of the boxes he crafted have the same outer dimensions, with a unique interior offering up a variety of tectonic conditions. Some of the boxes are transected, while others have recesses and partitions. Phifer says the project inspired an interest in detailing of the aluminum sun screen: “What’s interesting about his [Judd’s] boxes is their extreme simplicity: it’s important how the plates come together…the beautiful screws. You see the thickness of the aluminum, and the construction honors the material,” says Phifer. “The boxes begin to honor the light surrounding it.” The architects worked with the curtain wall contractor to develop a custom designed louver system from extruded and milled aluminum components to manage daylight. Everything had to be designed with calculations and technical documentation, including plenty of mock-ups. Phifer says this level of detailing is at the heart of their office’s production: “the facade system developed here was completely new.” This system is punctured in selective places on the facade with a polished stainless steel portal celebrating very specific spaces within the interior such as the judge’s chambers. “It has the character of receiving light and being a real part of the environment,” says Phifer on the outcomes of the decade-long project. The project could be considered a super-scaled descendant of one of Judd’s well-crafted boxes, but also should be a sophisticated addition to Thomas Phifer and Partners’ repertoire of working with light (a portfolio that includes a 2011 AIA Honor Award for the North Carolina Museum of Art). The results are a robust box, with a beautifully simple, passive performative agenda.
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Mark Sexton on Designing a High Performance Facade for the FBI

For Krueck+Sexton Architects, determining the essential design character of the new FBI South Florida Headquarters was a no-brainer. Given the 375,000-square-foot building's location among 20 acres of restored wetlands, "Our quest, first of all, was to develop high performance in a transparent facade," said founding principal Mark P. Sexton, who will deliver a talk on the project at next month's Facades+ Miami conference. "If you're working in the Everglades, the idea of your workspace being as transparent as possible [is obvious]." But transparency comes with a couple of challenges, namely solar gain and glare. In order to preserve views while maintaining alignment with the Government Services Administration's 2030 Zero Environmental Footprint project goal, the architects relied primarily on two technologies: frit glass and integrated sunshades. Of course, building orientation was also key; Krueck+Sexton positioned the double-bar plan so that the major facades face south and north, the minor facades east and west. To tackle the potential for thermal gain associated with floor-to-ceiling glass, Krueck+Sexton started with a product with a low-e coating. Next, they added a graduated frit that is heavier at floor and ceiling but more open at the vision plane. But even with the frit, said Sexton, "there was still too much glare on the south side of the building compared to the north side. It's one of the issues of high performance. You can control solar heat gain with these coatings, but then the glare becomes the big problem." When one side of an office is flooded with natural sunlight, he explained, the occupants on the darker side tend to compensate with artificial lighting—thus negating the environmental benefits of all of that daylight. The architects also developed a system of sunscreens that cut back on both direct sun and glare on the south facade. "It became, in a way, eyebrows for the building," said Sexton. He compared the shades to a tuned airfoil on an airplane or high-end automobile: "The performance is enhanced by the additive nature" of the shade. The result is a dynamic envelope with sunshades appearing as geometric mesh interwoven among the intersecting planes of glass. Hear more about the FBI South Florida Headquarters project September 10-11 at the Facades+ Miami conference. Register today and sign up for an exclusive Miami-area field trip on the conference website.
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Page Floats a Cedar Sunshade in Albuquerque

Minimalist catenary canopy lends warmth and lightness to office courtyard.

When Page design principal Larry Speck suggested a catenary sunshade for the courtyard of the new GSA building in Albuquerque, his colleagues set about identifying precedents. "There were some really great devices that we looked at, but a lot were done in the 1960s out of heavy, monumental materials," said principal Talmadge Smith. "We wondered if there was a way to do it in a lighter, more delicate way that would also introduce some warmth to the space." The architects elected to build the structure out of western red cedar, which performs particularly well in arid climates. Comprising 4-, 8-, and 12-foot boards suspended on steel cables, the sunshade appears as a wave of blonde wood floating in mid-air, casting slatted shadows on the glass walls of the courtyard. The courtyard is an important amenity in the two-story, 80,000-square-foot building, currently occupied by a combination of federal employees, including immigration and customs enforcement staff, and state and local law enforcement. "We said, 'This is a pretty big floor plate, it needs a great courtyard,'" said Smith. "For one thing, in this climate that's just what you build. You get free shading and can create a cooler microclimate." The courtyard also helps bring light into the communal spaces that surround it, which include training areas, circulation, and conference rooms. "It remains a democratic insertion into the floor plan," observed Smith. Finally, the courtyard allowed the architects to compensate for a lack of glazing on the exterior walls, the result of security requirements. Working in Revit and 3ds Max, Page experimented with various patterns for the sunshade. They first tried a regular arrangement of identical slats. "The result wasn't very pleasing," said Smith. "It made a drooping, uninviting shape. It also closed the courtyard, as if you had pulled a big venetian blind across it." They decided to break up the pattern and use three different modules of wood, placing them only where daylighting analysis dictated. They also worked with the cables themselves to identify the appropriate amount of slack. "We tested what it would be if you pulled the cables tight," said Smith. "It negated the effect of the catenary, and led to a courtyard with a little bit of a ceiling, a rigidity that we didn't want." The final design incorporates 18 inches worth of slack per cable.
  • Fabricator Enterprise Builders
  • Designers Page
  • Location Albuquerque
  • Date of Completion 2012
  • Material 2x6 western red cedar boards from US Lumber Brokers, steel cables, off-the-shelf hardware
  • Process Revit, 3ds Max, daylighting analysis, bolting, grouting, hanging
Enterprise Builders used off-the-shelf hardware to assemble and install the sunshade. The cedar boards are attached to the cables via steel clips bolted to one face of each board. Deciding against integrating hardware directly into the curtain walls, Page designed opaque concrete headers for the two short sides of the courtyard, then grouted the anchors into the masonry units. A turnbuckle attached to a pivot near each anchor allowed the builders to make adjustments to the length of the cables once they had been hung. A second, perpendicular, system of cables prevents the shading structure from swaying. "The hardest part was getting it level," said Smith. "There was a little art to that because some strands are more heavily loaded than the others." Fabricated out of standard lumber and mass-produced hardware, the sunshade might have felt bulky or crude. Instead, it provides relief from the New Mexico sun while seeming almost to dissolve into the sky. "When you're standing there, you only ever see half of the shading members at a time," said Smith. "You see a lot of sky, but you feel a lot of shade. It performs, but it feels light."
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Julie Snow Architects changes name, promotes new co-principal

One of the country’s most prominent female-led firms has named a new co-principal. Julie Snow Architects will now go by Snow Kreilich Architects. Matthew Kreilich, one of Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal's "40 Under 40” in 2013, is now a partner and design principal of the Twin Cities-based firm. Kreilich has worked at Julie Snow Architects for 10 years. Snow’s work includes Target's Minneapolis headquarters, the Lake Superior Weekend House, and the U.S. point of entry in Warroad, Minnesota. The firm is part of a design team recently selected to lead an overhaul of Minneapolis "main street" (Nicollet Mall), along with James Corner Field Operations and Coen+Partners. (Julie Snow also serves on A|N’s Midwest editorial advisory board.) The firm also updated their web address: www.snowkreilich.com.
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WTC's Glass Half Full

One World Trade is now half full (Stoelker/AN) After fits and starts the General Services Administration finally signed on the dotted line to lease 270,000 square feet at One World Trade, pushing the tower over the symbolic 50 percent leased mark. “The fat lady sang,” Senator Charles Schumer told the New York Post. The GSA joins Condé Nast and Chinese real estate giant Vantone after a protracted negotiation that was stalled by Beltway bickering.
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GSA Seeks Patrons for Candles on the Water

As part of ongoing subtle austerity measures, the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) announced Monday that as part of the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act of 2000, they will transfer ownership of 12 lighthouses to willing non-federal-government organizations.  Eligible state or local governments, non-profit corporations, historic preservation groups, or community development organizations have 60 days to file a letter expressing interest in the properties. If no suitable taker is found, then a public auction will take place. The measure is part of President Obama's initiative to save $1.5 billion in federal money by reducing overhead costs of maintaining federal real estate, and the GSA claims that they are on track to save $3.5 billion by the end of the year. According to GSA's Acting Commissioner of Public Buildings Linda Chero, "Through the preservation program, GSA helps find new stewards for excess lighthouses that are no longer considered mission critical to the United States Coast Guard." GSA will soon issue Notices of Availability for the following light stations: Ontonagon West Pierhead Light, Manistique Light, Stannard Rock Light, and Fourteen Foot Shoal Light in Michigan; Liston Rear Range Light in Delaware; American Shoal Light in Florida; Ashland Light in Wisconsin; Butler Flats Light, Graves Light, Edgartown Light in Massachusetts; and Halfway Rock Light and Boon Island Light in Maine. Since the NHLPA eneactment in 2000, 84 lighthouses have been transferred from the federal government.
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New Shortlist Jumpstarts Long-Stalled LA Courthouse

The biggest new architecture project in Los Angeles just got a much smaller list of candidates. The General Services Administration (GSA) has released the shortlist for the new U.S. Courthouse in LA, a design-build project where architects are partnered with builders. When completed, the building, located on a 3.7 acre lot at 107 South Broadway, will measure 600,000 square feet. It’s projected to cost $322 million and be completed by 2016. The shortlisted teams include: Skidmore Owings and Merrill with Clark Yazdani Studio and Gruen Associates with Hensel Phelps Brooks + Scarpa and HMC Architects with McCarthy NBBJ Architects with Mortensen Shortlisted firms will now be expected to submit plans as part of a Request For Proposals. The winner is expected to be named by this August or September, and design is set to begin by the end of this year. Those who didn’t make the cut included Morphosis, Michael Maltzan Architects, Ehrlich Architects, AC Martin, Johnson Fain Architects, Fentress Architects, Rios Clementi Hale, and Cannon Design. Another exclusion was Perkins + Will, who GSA originally chose to design the project before it stalled several years ago.
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White House Turns Green at GSA and HUD

If last week's story on the apparent shortcomings of the Office of Urban Affairs may have shaken your hopes about the Obama administration's commitment to cities, planning, and urban policy, fear not. As we tried to point out, these things are happening, just not necessarily at the White House office whose name is synonymous with it. Case in point, two major announcements were made this week concerning sustainability, one at the GSA, the other at HUD. Yesterday, the General Services Administration announced that it had created its first Chief Greening Officer (terrible name, great news), whose job it would be to pursue sustainability initiatives throughout the agency's massive portfolio of buildings, some 350 million square feet. Taking over the new office is Eleni Reed, the former Director of Sustainability Strategies at Cushman and Wakefield, where she undertook a similar task of greening the company's vast office holdings. And on Monday, the agency submitted its sustainability plan to the White House with a target of a "zero environmental footprint," though a timeline for that is not clear. Meanwhile, over at Department of Housing and Urban Development, officials announced today that HUD would start scoring its grant applications for their compliance with LEED-ND, the U.S. Green Building Council's new neighborhood rating system. “Using the ‘LEED-ND’ green neighborhood rating system…it’s time that federal dollars stopped encouraging sprawl and started lowering the barriers to the kind of sustainable development our country needs and our communities want," Secretary Shaun Donovan said in a press release. It is not unlike one of the programs mentioned in last week's piece, about how the Office of Management and Budget is weighing its budget calculations in favor of programs that incorporate sustainable and pro-urban initiatives.