Influential GSA chief architect Ed Feiner dies aged 75 news


Ed Feiner. Image courtesy of Perkins&Will

The public design world mourned the loss of an influential figure after it was announced that former General Services Administration Chief Architect Ed Feiner passed away on July 1 at his home in suburban DC. Feiner was known as the GSA’s first Chief Architect and as the “driving force” behind some of its most successful programs, including his leadership of the acclaimed Design Excellence Program, now in its 28th year.

“He changed the design and construction of public buildings,” Feiner’s former colleague Leslie L. Shepherd recalled last month in the Engineering News Record.

GSA projects thrown under Feiner’s influence included Thom Mayne’s Wayne Lyman Morse United States Courthouse and San Francisco Federal Building; the Oklahoma City National Memorial Design and subsequent Federal Building designed by Carol Ross Barney; and Pei Cobb Freed & Partners, who touched John Joseph Moakley, the United States Courthouse in Boston. The list of architects he has worked directly with includes Robert AM Stern, Julie Snow, Thomas Phifer and many prominent others. Feiner was also instrumental in selecting the first federal courthouse to be designed by a woman (Carol Ross Barney) and a black architect (Ralph Jackson).

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Aside from the buildings he commissioned, Feiner’s legacy can be seen in the GSA’s annual Design Awards program and in the area of ​​sustainability, where he continued to influence the development of performance standards and other key green building initiatives. His reputation led esquire Magazine to declare him “America’s Most Powerful Architect” in 2003.

After retiring from GSA, Feiner worked in the offices of SOM and Perkins&Will, where he was the founding director of the company’s Design Leadership Council. He had also previously worked in Victor Gruen’s office and joined the GSA in 1981 after working in the Navy’s Facility Engineering Command. Before starting his career, Feiner studied at Cooper Union and the Catholic University of America.

He is survived by his wife Frances, two children and a legacy which neither the conservatism of his successor Thomas Gordon Smith nor conservatism could nullify misguided will of a president. “This isn’t the end of anything: especially not the end of design excellence,” said the Bronx native upon his retirement in 2005.

Ed Feiner was 75 years old.

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