Several people, including Robert Peck, Hon. AIA, lost their jobs as Congress held hearings to review the GSA’s lavish spending in Las Vegas. Now public architecture advocates who have been fighting tooth and nail for public design worry that their hard-fought efforts will start to unravel. The Architect’s Newspaper reports:
Rob Rogers of Rogers Marvel Architects, who has worked on GSA projects both in New York and Washington, D.C., fears that now any design element could be interpreted as an extravagance and even high-profile projects will be forced to have heavy rounds of value engineering.
Commemorative coins and clown acts don’t exactly equate to building design elements, but advocates worry that some people will make that leap. Federal workers spent excessively on a convention—so who’s to say they won’t do so on government buildings? Putting aside for a moment the millions in taxpayer dollars that Peck saved at the GSA, the argument that public money shouldn’t be used to fund progressive design is an argument against the Design Excellence Program. Where do we draw the line? Can we, as taxpayers, tolerate cookie-cutter public buildings?