san francisco architecture competition

Student Design Competition: New San Francisco Federal Building Plaza

Submission: November 22, 2017
Registration: November 22, 2017
Language: English
Location: San Francisco, CA
Prizes: Please see details below
Type: Student Design Competition


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 Guiding Principles for Federal Architecture state that the government should produce facilities that reflect the dignity, enterprise, vigor, and stability of the federal government, emphasizing designs that embody the finest contemporary architectural thought; that avoid an official style; and that incorporate the work of living American artists. With these Guiding Principles in mind, submissions that demonstrate greater creativity, coherence, and clarity of vision in achieving the goal of activating the plaza will be considered more favorably.

*Please note that the existing artwork located in the plaza and the façade of the building, “Skygarden,” by James Turrell, must be preserved.


GSA recognizes that good design is responsive to context. Special attention shall be paid to the general ensemble of streets and public places of which Federal buildings form a part; and that, where possible, buildings should permit a generous development of landscape. Submissions that address and respond to the physical context of climate and the built environment will be considered more favorably.


GSA strives to leverage its real estate activity to support community goals. Submissions that demonstrate a superior understanding of local issues and community goals, and which address those issues and goals in compelling ways, will be considered more favorably.


Designs shall adhere to sound construction practice and utilize materials, methods and equipment of proven dependability, and shall be economical to build, operate and maintain, and should be accessible. Submissions that are technically feasible to implement will be considered more favorably.


Part of GSA’s mission is to deliver the best value in real estate services to government and the American people. Submissions that represent a high-value intervention that can be implemented more cost-effectively will be considered more favorably.

Go to the competition’s website

Date: September 4, 2017