General Service Administration's Modern-Era Buildings Initiative, Washington, DC
District of Columbia
Award Type: Honor Award
Generally speaking, landlords aren’t known for being lovable – but by demonstrating a firm commitment to good stewardship of its modern-era federal properties, GSA has shown that it is that rare kind of landlord that can warm a preservationist’s heart.
The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) is one of the largest landlords and property managers in the country with more than 550 Modern-era buildings in its vast inventory. When the GSA revealed a plan to destroy part of a 1965 federal building in Denver, CO, local preservationists protested. GSA then decided to take a serious look at its portfolio of Modern-era buildings. The result was a comprehensive initiative that laid a strong foundation for the sensitive stewardship of federally owned buildings from the 1950s, 60s and 70s.
In 1999, GSA supported a renovation of Denver's Byron G. Rogers Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse to enhance the building's entryway and alleviate security queuing delays. To GSA's surprise, local preservationists and citizens strongly opposed the plans, claiming they compromised the building's original design. A book on Denver's Modern architectural heritage called attention to the building as the city's best example of the Formalist style, and raised the possibility that it could be listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The implications of the controversy were significant – GSA needed a policy for balancing financial interests and stewardship goals for its buildings of undetermined merit.