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Remarks on Presentation of the Presidential Awards for Design Excellence

April 28, 1994

Thank you very much. I'd like to first acknowledge the work of the jury, including the chair, Michael Vanderbyl, and the Members of Congress who have supported this endeavor, including Senator Pell, Congressmen de la Garza, Regula, Swett, and Yates.

We are here to honor the genius and skill of men and women whose work represents the highest level of excellence in American design, which consists of more than mere beauty; it is also at its best inspirational, enduring, functional and cost-effective. Design, at its best, can enrich our lives, beautify our surroundings, improve our productivity and performance, and even help to effect social change.

We see these qualities reflected in Federal design projects all across our Nation, from the wonderful monuments here in the Nation's Capital, to the simple elegance of Dulles Airport, to the highways of the Southwest, the day care centers in Baltimore, the secure telephones in Federal agencies, even to some of our Government catalogs.

The Federal Government is the largest purchaser of design services in the world. And the designs we commission should reflect not only the best artistic execution available but also taxpayers' money well spent. Each of the eight projects chosen for the Presidential Awards for Design Excellence combine beauty, utility, and economy in a truly unique way.

The Army Corps of Engineers' novel navigational channel system, Bendway Weirs, will save millions of dollars every year on dredging and reduce navigational delays along a 180-mile stretch of the Mississippi River. That's something, because of my previous life, I know a little about.

The Farmers Home Administration's Mer Rouge low income rural housing was cited for, quote, "its poetic and uplifting architecture, and its cost-saving construction." Why can't we do that with all publicly supported housing?

EGIS explosives detector, commissioned by the State Department and the Federal Aviation Administration, is a brilliant design that showcases handsome artistry along with modern innovation and technology.

By blending nature, science, technology, and human expression, these and the other designs we honor today will be lasting monuments to the innovative spirit of Americans, and to the diversity and breadth of our culture. I salute the designers of these outstanding Federal projects and recognize those Departments who had the foresight to commission and oversee them. And I'm especially glad to see the Secretary of Agriculture here today, Secretary Espy, thank you very much.

At this time, I'm also pleased to announce the call for entries for the next round of Presidential Design Awards. I hope there will be many more entrants; I hope we will be able to highlight them. I can't help but say that I think that if we could get these award winners that we're recognizing today and the next round of entrants widely publicized around the United States, it could have a dramatic impact on having the American people feel that their tax dollars are being better spend. It could have in the aggregate a really positive way of connecting the American people to their Government again. And if you can do that, after all we have been through over these last decades that have alienated the American people from their Government, you will have helped us to do something profoundly important.

I'd like now to call upon the Chair of the National Endowment for the Arts to implement the awards program. She has done a terrific job, and I'm sure this will be one of her more enjoyable duties. Ms. Jane Alexander.

NOTE: The President spoke at 4:40 p.m. in the East Room at the White House. In his remarks, he referred to Michael Vanderbyl, chair, Presidential Design Awards.

William J. Clinton, Remarks on Presentation of the Presidential Awards for Design Excellence Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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