GSA holds March Madness contest--for federal buildings

Everyone is familiar with the 16-bracket March Madness competition format for basketball, but what about putting federal buildings into those brackets and up for a vote?

Fans of architecture, design and photography, take note.

The General Services Administration is sponsoring a creative March Madness contest this week on its Facebook page and in the GSA Blog—but instead of basketball teams in the 16 brackets the agency is asking people to vote for their favorite federal buildings.

It’s a fun idea, and GSA officials thoughtfully put together gorgeous photographs of the 16 federal buildings up for inspection. Their designs range through a wide variety of styles, including the beaux art facade of the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House in New York and modern curved glass of the John Joseph Moakley U.S. Courthouse in Boston. There are also a couple of notable examples of federal “Green buildings,” which are energy-efficient buildings, in the mix.

The contest’s Facebook Timeline format is perhaps not the easiest to execute on. It was a little unclear exactly how and where to vote when I looked at the contest today.

Also, federal buildings are big and impressive, but not well known even in their hometowns. For example, I’ve lived in Washington for over a decade and have never heard of the James L. Whitten Federal Building, although if you told me it was the USDA’s headquarters I would recognize it.

Looks like the GSA is going to have to give this contest a big sales push to get it going. Just a handful of votes have been cast to date.

The contest seems to be a somewhat lighthearted effort by GSA to spotlight notable federal architecture, but if lots of votes start coming in, it potentially could serve a more serious purpose and possibly could influence future federal design competitions.

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