Continuing a legacy of outstanding public architecture, the General Services Administration (GSA) Design Excellence Program seeks to commission our nation’s most talented designers and artists to design federal buildings of outstanding quality and value. These projects are to demonstrate the value of true integrated design that balances aesthetics, cost, constructability, and reliability; create environmentally responsible and superior workplaces for civilian federal employees; and give contemporary form and meaning to our democratic values.
In this context, the GSA invites students in architecture, landscape, and urban design programs to envision a design intervention that activates the New San Francisco Federal Building plaza. Winning ideas will also address the Guiding Principles for Federal Architecture, building tenant needs for the facility, community goals, feasibility, and will also achieve the best value for the American taxpayer through good design. The intervention may take the form of physical renovation of the plaza, programming new use(s), and/or some other means of transformation designed to activate public space.
The New San Francisco Federal Building located at 90 7th street in San Francisco, California, was designed by Morphosis. The project was designed between 1999 and 2002. Construction began in 2003 and was completed in 2007. This year celebrates its 10th year of occupancy.
The distinctive building has become a landmark in San Francisco. Its layout and functions celebrate the importance of the city and the urban environment, combining amenities and public space that are designed to enhance the immediate area and the adjacent neighborhood. The offices support the energy and spirit of those who work there and those who visit. Its systems are outstanding examples of integrated engineering and sustainable design, reflecting the wise stewardship of limited resources. Together, these attributes make this a project that has stimulated critical interest.
The building is a model of GSA’s Design Excellence program. As a public space, the original vision for the plaza was that it would be a welcome civic space that is flexible and allows for outdoor dining, concerts, and markets. Since the completion of the project 10 years ago, only the cafe uses the plaza for outdoor dining, and no concerts, markets, or any other public functions have used this space. This competition seeks ideas that activate the plaza for the benefit of the building users and general public.