GSA seeks new ideas in San Francisco design challenge

GSA seeks new ideas in San Francisco design challenge


Innovation doesn’t always come from within. Better solutions facing today’s government can come from anywhere – even a college notebook.

Around the country, thousands of students are pursuing degrees in architecture, design and related fields. It’s these minds we are hoping to inspire with our San Francisco Federal Building (SFFB) plaza student design competition on

The SFFB, designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Thom Mayne of Morphosis, opened its doors in 2007.

“When architecture engages social, cultural, political, and ethical currents, it has the potential to transform the way we see the world and our place in it,” Mayne said then. “It is from this intersection of broad societal themes that we approached the design for the new Federal Building in San Francisco.”

Even GSA’s own publication on the new structure described the plaza as a “public space [that] welcomes visitors and functions as a room in the city, animated with life.”

In the 10 years the building has been open, the plaza has remained underused. With plenty of space to host any number of community-focused activities, GSA is seeking new and creative ideas from college design students to help us find ways to make the space a valued asset to the community. Modest cash prizes are being offered and winners will be selected by a jury that includes not only SFFB tenant and community representatives, but also the site’s original visionary, Thom Mayne.

It’s also an opportunity for our agency to promote the continued use of the platform. There are hundreds of challenges currently running on the site–opportunities not just for college students, but all kinds of citizen solvers.

How can you help improve government? To learn about prize competitions, sign up for the prize competition listserv and get involved with the Challenges and Prizes Community of Practice!

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