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White House Presents Presidential Design Awards

December 20, 2000

GSA #9774 (revised)

December 20, 2000
Contacts: Viki Reath
Malcolm Saldanha

Washington, D.C. -- President and Mrs. Clinton today presented the quadrennial, Presidential Awards for Design Excellence to the following projects:

U.S. Census Bureau National Data Processing Center, Bowie, Md.
U.S. Port of Entry, Calexico, Calif.
Grand Central Terminal, New York City
Interstate 70, Glenwood Canyon, Colo.
Mars Pathfinder Mission
Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, Washington, D.C.
National Park Service Park Cultural Landscapes Program
Westside MAX Light Rail, Portland, Ore.
The Mayors' Institute on City Design.

The awards, presented in a 10 a.m. ceremony at Constitution Hall, honor projects that represent the highest standards of Federal design in architecture, landscape architecture, urban design and planning, historic preservation, interior design, engineering, graphic design and products and industrial design.

"I'd like to especially thank Bob Peck, the Commissioner of the Public Building Service, for his role in our doing better with the federal government's construction," Pres. Clinton said.

In this year's fifth quadrennial competition, four juries selected 35 projects to receive Federal Design Achievement Awards. A second jury, chaired by well-known architectural historian Vincent Scully, selected nine of these projects to also receive a Presidential Award for Design Excellence. The juries, comprised of 22 private-sector design experts, reviewed 338 submissions from 71 Federal agencies, representing work in 46 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and 10 foreign countries.

The Federal Government, the nation's largest user of design services and products and the responsible steward of public resources, is committed to providing taxpayers with the best designs available. The Presidential Design Awards, administered jointly by the U.S. General Services Administration and the National Endowment for the Arts, are the only governmentwide recognition of excellence in Federal design.

The Presidential Design Award recipients for 2000 were:

U.S. Census Bureau National Data Processing Center, Bowie, Md.

Using a stainless steel, tensile truss glazed system and metal flat and ribbed panels in a palette of white and gray, the architects created a sleek, airy computer and telecommunications center reflecting the Census Bureau's commitment to technology and desire for an open and efficient work environment. Window walls and large expanses of glass provide light-filled workspaces while minimizing the mass of the 130,000-square-foot, one-story building that sits in a park-like, suburban setting. Outside views from offices, social areas and corridors create visual interest. Movable partitions permit rearrangements of open office spaces and subdivisions of conference areas.

An accessible cable-tray system in the corridors makes recabling easy, creating flexibility and adaptability for computer and telecommunications equipment. Modules are on two-foot-deep flush-raised floors.Computer modules have economical, ground-faced, concrete bearing walls and a simple, lightweight joist roof system. Floor and ceiling materials are industrial and easy to maintain. The building projects an image of openness and accessibility, although numerous protection devices concealed within the structure provide a high level of safety and security.

Jury Comment:

It is a small building with a subtle monumentality. Its transparency is appropriate to the building's function, symbolizing the openness of the census survey. The design shows that a modernist vocabulary can have a civic presence; it's a machine for counting.

General Services Administration, National Capital Region
Department of Commerce, U.S. Census Bureau
Davis Brody Bond
Tobey + Davis (now the Smith Group)

United States Port of Entry, Calexico, Calif.

The border station in Calexico, 125 miles east of San Diego, sets a standard of excellence as a landmark facility that vigorously reinforces the ceremonial aspect of crossing an international border. The tent-like structures are evocative of the desert environment and strike a perfect balance between the monumental and the ephemeral. Teflon-coated fiberglass tensile roof structures cover both the open areas for processing vehicles and an enclosed, light-filled space for processing pedestrians and bus passengers. The fabric roof structures cut down on energy costs by diffusing sunlight into work areas and reflecting radiant heat. The canopied "tollbooths" where passenger vehicles are processed are sited so that the prevailing winds carry away exhaust fumes.

The facility's exterior is a combination of concrete block, poured-in-place and precast concrete. Subtly varying bands of limestone form a focal wall inside the main building. A freestanding row of abstract monumental columns "marches" across the entry plaza and through the main building, suggesting continuity of movement between the United States and Mexico. The project avoids the overused stylistic southwestern cliches.

Jury Comment

The border station celebrates vernacular building traditions of both sides of border, recalling the festive atmosphere of outdoor markets. There is a beautifully modulated quality of light inside. The jury applauds the welcoming, site-sensitive quality of the design.

General Services Administration, Pacific Rim Region
Dworsky Associates (now CannonDworksy)

Grand Central Terminal--New York, NY

For years, Grand Central Terminal was a place to avoid. Once characterized as dreary and even scary, it is now a visual feast accessible to all. The design team was challenged not simply to upgrade the famous 1913 Beaux-Arts train station through a careful restoration but to make critical changes that would add new uses without destroying the architectural character of the building.

Following the U.S. Department of the Interior's Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties and Standards for Rehabilitation, the building has been brought to full, active, and use as both a major railroad station and a vibrant public space for commercial and cultural activities.

Light once again pours into the Main Concourse, one of the great rooms in the country, through windows that were blocked and covered in grime. The rich surfaces of Bottocino marble and Caen stone have been thoroughly cleaned and repaired. The famous Sky Ceiling has been cleaned and newly illuminated using fiber optic lights. A new stair was built on the east side. The stair was included in the original plans but dropped from construction at the last moment. Now, it provides access to restaurants on the balcony level and to the food court on the lower level.

Today, Grand Central Terminal, once threatened with demolition, lives up to its great history and international renown as a triumphant portal to New York.

Jury Comment

This is a praiseworthy show of confidence in a major civic monument and a highly professional approach employing an appropriately balanced team of experts. Enhanced lighting did not detract from the original historic fabric and the subtle use of color. Jurors praised what was absent�shopping centers and the like�in the main spaces.

Department of Transportation, Federal Transit Administration, Region 2
Metropolitan Transportation Authority
Metro-North Railroad
GCT Venture
Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners LLP
Harry Weese & Associates
STV/Seelye Stevenson, Value & Knecht
Fisher Marantaz Renfro Stone, Inc.
The Rockwell Group

Interstate 70, Glenwood Canyon, Colo.

Glenwood Canyon, carved by the fast-flowing Colorado River over the last 40 million years, plunges more than 2,000 feet at its deepest and is very narrow at the bottom. An antiquated two-lane roadway built in the 1930s had become a dangerous bottleneck to east-west travel in this part of the state. The challenge to designers was how to upgrade it to interstate highway standards without destroying the delicate natural environment. Normal cut-and-fill building methods would have irreparably damaged the canyon. Working for nearly two decades to overcome citizens' concerns and conflicting demands, the engineers designed an extraordinary highway.

Their solution was to build a terraced, four-lane highway, with eastbound lanes stepped above those heading west. Much of the roadway is elevated on 40 bridges and viaducts with a combined length of more than six miles. These structures are supported on slender columns, painted to resemble the natural rock. Some of them soar as high as 80 feet above the ground. To avoid intruding on the trail to Hanging Lake, a popular scenic attraction, the highway sweeps across the river on long spans and disappears into two 4,000-foot-long tunnels. Because of the length and isolation of the tunnels, air quality and traffic are monitored from a four-story underground control center nearby. All the construction was done while keeping traffic moving safely through the canyon with minimal delays.

The highway is a wonder of human engineering that provides an aesthetically pleasing framework from which to view the canyon's magnificence.

Jury Comment

The four-lane interstate highway not only avoided further damage to a beautiful mountain canyon, it actually restored the natural talus slopes and natural banks of the Colorado River. The design process for this environmentally sensitive area included reviews by a Citizen's Advisory Committee and a Technical Review Committee, and extensively publicized drawings and models of alignment alternatives. As a result, the process has become a model for the design and construction of interstate highways in valued natural landscapes.

Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, Colorado Division
Colorado Department of Transportation, Division of Highways
Gruen Associates
Nelson Haley Patterson and Quirk
DMJM Phillips Reister
Joseph Passonneau & Partners
Leigh Whitehead Associates
DeLeuw, Cather & Co.
Citizens Advisory Committee for Glenwood Canyon

Mars Pathfinder Mission

On July 1, 1997, after a hiatus of 20 years, the United States returned to Mars�and for the next three months people around the world watched and participated in the excitement as images and data were returned to Earth by the first-ever planetary rover.

The Pathfinder was one of the first two projects under NASA's Discovery Program, a 1992 program distinguished by a strategy for low cost, short schedules, and focused scientific payloads to explore space frontiers. The Pathfinder Mission's response to this strategy was to co-locate a small team to facilitate daily face-to-face communication and concurrent engineering. The team conceived a unique design that used direct entry into the Mars atmosphere, slowed by parachutes and simple solid-propellant rockets, and cushioned by airbags, to land a small station and a small rover on a preplanned site of very rocky but geologically interesting terrain.

Beyond achieving mission objectives by the spectacular demonstration of functional performance, the mission exemplifies NASA's new philosophy of lower-cost planetary exploration without sacrificing design quality. By focusing its design objectives, the mission was accomplished at less than one-tenth the cost of the previous mission to Mars 20 years earlier.

Jury Comment

The project's multidisciplinary, concurrent engineering appears to be a great improvement over the compartmentalized, sequential fashion of the past. The direct entry, descent, and landing sequence were unique and innovative. The low-cost is a result for other scientific programs to emulate.

National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Office for Space Science for the Mars Pathfinder Mission and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, Washington, D.C.

The Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial is the first major national memorial erected in honor of a 20th-century President. It joins the Washington Monument and the Jefferson and Lincoln Memorials as the fourth and last great monument provided for in the 1901 McMillan Plan for monument placement in Washington, DC. Encompassing 7.5 acres, the memorial unfolds along the famous cherry tree walk of the Tidal Basin in West Potomac Park.

The memorial illustrates the story of a great man and a great President who led the Nation through the turbulent times of depression and World War II. The story is told in a series of four garden rooms representing four stages in the President's life: his early presidency, the depression-era social programs, World War II, and his death and legacy. The rooms are defined by walls of Red South Dakota granite, ornamental plantings, waterfalls and quite pools of water, inscribed quotations from Roosevelt's speeches, and bronze sculptures. The sculptures are meant to be touched and interacted with and include Braille inscriptions. No single element or piece of sculpture dominates or becomes a symbol of the place. The totality of the experience is the memorial.

Views have been selectively planned and framed to the Washington Monument and the Jefferson and Lincoln Memorials. The memorial is surrounded by more than 300 major trees and 3,000 shrubs. The trees celebrate Roosevelt's interest in conservation, forestry, and reforestation. Many small flowering trees attractive to birds were included in the design to depict his avid interest in bird watching

At night, carefully designed lighting transforms the space into a magical, intimate space of light and darkness. The Tidal Basin and surrounding parkland are covered in darkness while the waterfalls are dramatically backlit and the sculptures and trees are bathed in soft pools of light.

This is the first presidential memorial to honor a First Lady. A bronze sculpture of Eleanor Roosevelt pays tribute to her transforming the role of First Lady, her humanitarianism, and her service as a delegate to the United Nations.

Jury Comment

What started in the 1960s has taken a long time to evolve�to the distinct advantage of the end result. This memorial is about place making, forming distinct places, each with its own power. The World War II room is one of the most powerful public spaces. It has the feel of war and the feel of a man who hated war. The experience of the memorial is very personal. At the same time, the visitor is encouraged to experience the larger landscape as well. The memorial is powerful, yet subservient to the landscape.

Department of the Interior, National Park Service, Denver Service Center, National Capital Region, and National Capital Parks-Central
Office of Lawrence Halprin
Leonard Baskin
Neil Estern
Robert Graham
Tom Hardy
George Segal
John Benson

National Park Service Park Cultural Landscapes Program

The National Park Service has a rich inventory of nationally significant cultural landscapes from carriage roads to battlefields, designed gardens to vernacular homesteads, industrial complexes to summer estates. The Park Cultural Landscapes Program, established in 1988, provides direction and management for the protection and preservation of cultural landscapes in our 378 national parks encompassing more than 80 million acres.

The result is a comprehensive program of inventory, research, documentation, treatment, technical assistance, and training regarding cultural landscape preservation. To strengthen the capacity of parks to preserve and manage their cultural landscapes, the Park Service established the Olmsted Center for Landscape Preservation in 1992. Center staff works in partnership with staffs from the national parks, universities, government agencies, and private, nonprofit organizations to provide sustainable landscape preservation assistance.

Through the efforts of the Park Cultural Landscapes Program, the National Park Service is providing national leadership in the field of cultural landscape preservation. The policy, standards, guidelines, and technical information are used widely by other Federal agencies, states, non-profit organizations, and the private sector. As a result, the program is having an impact far beyond the boundaries of the national park system.

Jury Comment

This is a new program of tremendous national significance. The Park Service has recognized that designed landscapes, vernacular landscapes, and ethnographic landscapes are valuable, important natural resources to be preserved and restored.

This program acknowledges the diverse, creative, functional activity of our population. The landscapes to be preserved are most frequently in our cities, which means many people will touch, feel, and see them. This program is very important for the next millennium. Future generations will be able to see how immigrant populations shaped the land around them. This is emblematic of a shift in thinking about what our culture is�a collection of cultures richer for its variety than its consistency. While preservation of these landscapes will complicate the building process, it will force more creative solutions and produce a richer environment.

Department of the Interior, National Park Service, Cultural Resource Stewardship and Partnerships

Westside MAX Light Rail--Portland, Oregon

Westside MAX extends the Portland region's light rail line 18 miles west to the edge of downtown Hillsboro in the heart of Oregon's fast-growing Silicon Forest. It includes a three-mile, twin-tube tunnel through a thousand-foot-high ridge of hills.

From the outset, the Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation Authority set out to create a transit line of architectural and functional distinction. Architects, engineers, and artists were brought together as equal partners. Creatively and intelligently, this team deftly shaped the system and eloquently gave voice to the line. The new MAX trains are the first low-floor light rail vehicles in the United States. They are specially designed for easy access with strollers, walkers, and wheelchairs. A bridgeplate emerges from the car to the platform, and each car has a low-floor portion not requiring any steps.

At multiple points along the way, artists, architects, and engineers joined with local citizens to capture the character of a particular area so that each of the 20 new stations reflects and enriches the neighboring community. At the first station on the new line, a trio of bronze perches�soapbox, stump, and pedestal�exemplifies the historic latitude given by Portlanders to freedom of expression for impromptu public speakers. A deep richness of historic tradition is captured in cast bronze artifacts contributed by Native American, Japanese, Latino, and Anglo-American citizens of Washington County at the station in central Hillsboro. These are just a few of the dozens of design and art collaborations that animate the rail line to the delight of its 24,000 daily passengers and 15,000 new residents of homes near the stations. All this was accomplished within the $944-million budget and on time.

Jury Comment

This is a comprehensive program covering transportation, art, landscape architecture, and accessible technology. It is a powerful model for other car-oriented cities, showing how well it can be done and how this new technology can be integrated. The design of the Westside extension seized the opportunity to do many things and leveraged the project to accomplish many goals. Portland has made a huge commitment to the larger planning vision. This project is part of its follow through. The quality of architecture and the art is very high.

Department of Transportation, Federal Transit Administration, Region 10
Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon
Zimmer, Gunsul, Frasca Partnership
Otak, Inc.
Parsons Brinckerhoff Quade & Douglas, Inc.
BRW, Inc.

The Mayors' Institute on City Design

The Mayors' Institute on City Design, established in 1986 by the Design Arts Program of the National Endowment for the Arts, educates mayors about the role of design and physical planning in the everyday life of a city and how to use their roles as their cities' chief elected officials to shape the future of their cities. Several times a year, the Institute brings together seven or eight mayors to meet for two and one-half days with a resource team of 10-12 national urban design and development experts. At each meeting, the mayors and resource team discuss specific problems facing cities and examine a broad range of ideas, precedents, and improvement strategies. Each mayor presents a case study of a critical issue in his or her city, and members of the resource team identify issues, offer suggestions, and discuss alternative paths towards a solution. Members of the resource team also make presentations regarding the value of design in a city's development efforts. The presentations provide important information for the mayors on the latest thinking in urban design, sustainable development, consensus building, landscape design, and urban economic development. Particular emphasis is placed on the influence mayors have on the form and economic vitality of their communities.

The Institute has helped change the face of urban America for the better. In more than 300 cities in each of the 50 states and Puerto Rico, mayors have returned home from the Institute as passionate and insightful urban designers. The results are new waterfront parks, creation of historic districts, attractive and affordable housing, energetic downtowns, sensitive transportation systems, and more human-scaled pubic buildings.

Jury Comment

The Institute, through its workshops, has touched cities across America�large and small. It is a national program with direct local impact. Through its resource teams, the Institute brings an interdisciplinary approach to project analysis. It shows mayors how to analyze a project in terms of its long-range impact, both fiscally and visually. Mayors come away from a workshop with greater confidence in their own innate design sense. At the end of the day, the Institute affects how America's cities and towns get built by educating the builders.

National Endowment for the Arts, Design Program
Joseph P. Riley, Jr.
Jaquelin T. Robertson
Adele Chatfield-Taylor
Joan Abrahamson

Last Reviewed: 2017-08-13