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Distinctly Different or Dysfunctional? The San Francisco Federal Building (Live Webinar)PE & RA, AIA

Jeffrey Syken

When chief architect Edward A. Feiner of the General Service Administration (GSA) implemented the Design Excellence program in the early 1990s, his goal was to, literally, change the face and image of the Federal Government as represented in the architecture of its buildings. Considering the fact that the GSA is the biggest landlord in the nation; managing over three-hundred million square-feet of commercial office space for a variety of government agencies, this was no small goal. Under Feiner’s leadership, the Design Excellence program produced some remarkable buildings, including Richard Meier’s celebrated Federal Courthouse in Islip, New York. For his last hurrah (before retiring in 2005), Feiner selected “bad-boy” architect Thomas Mayne and his architectural design firm Morphosis to design the new Federal Courthouse for San Francisco (SFFB). Though considered a rebel for his “Industrial-Machine Aesthetic” style, Mayne was no stranger to Federal Government work having designed another Federal Courthouse in Eugene, Oregon and the much-admired NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) headquarters in Maryland for the GSA prior to the SFFB commission. Though the GSA did not seek LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification for the SFFB initially, energy use was a major consideration and the deciding factor in selecting Mayne’s design for the building. Taking advantage of San Francisco’s moderate climate and prevailing winds, Mayne eliminated the HVAC system, replacing it with natural ventilation and sunshading devices to both heat and cool the building. While this saved millions, he was criticized for including non-functional aesthetic features that offset this cost-savings. More importantly, the elimination of the HVAC system proved highly problematic to the building’s occupants, creating intolerable working conditions for many. In fact, in an internal GSA study it scored in the lowest percentile in occupant satisfaction. Several other design features such as “skip-stop” elevator service and locating the cafeteria outside the building proper would also have negative consequences. Ultimately, the building would receive silver LEED certification. But this begs the question: is the scoreboard more important than the game?

This course includes a multiple-choice quiz at the end, which is designed to enhance the understanding of the course materials.

Note to Webinar Attendees:

Our live webinars (web seminars) are considered as "Courses of Learning" (live courses) by the New York State Board for Engineering and Land Surveying and as "Timed & Monitored Courses" by the Ohio State Board for Professional Engineers and Surveyors. Unlike the traditional seminars held in a classroom setting, our webinars deliver live instruction to your home or office. You will be able to interact directly with our instructor during a webinar through audio channel or chat box. However, you must attend the webinar at a scheduled date and time. We will verify your attendance through our online webinar platform. The certificate of completion will not be issued unless you attend the webinar and pass a quiz (all quiz questions will be reviewed during the webinar). Thank you for your cooperation.

Next Scheduled Webinar for PDH Course C685W
Date and Time† Location Registration Deadline
Thur., May 16, 2019, 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM ET
The webinar starting time.
* A webinar reminder with instruction on how to access our webinar platform will be emailed to you approximately 12 hours before the event.
† Special training arrangement can be made for 4 or more participants as a self-organized group. Please contact us for available training dates.

Note: This course requires users to pay first before viewing the course content.

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NY PE & PLS: You must choose courses that are technical in nature or related to matters of laws and ethics contributing to the health and welfare of the public. NY Board does not accept courses related to office management, risk management, leadership, marketing, accounting, financial planning, real estate, and basic CAD. Specific course topics that are on the borderline and are not acceptable by the NY Board have been noted under the course description on our website.

AIA Members: You must take the courses listed under the category "AIA/CES Registered Courses" if you want us to report your Learning Units (LUs) to AIA/CES. If you take courses not registered with AIA/CES, you need to report the earned Learning Units (not qualified for HSW credits) using Self Report Form provided by AIA/CES.