Design: Toward a Handsome America

The President hands out 13 awards for visual excellence

The face of this nation is decisively shaped by the Federal Government. It is the country's largest single builder, printer and design client for objects as various as power dams, monuments and postage stamps. The looks and liveliness of Government buildings often determine the vitality of town squares and city centers. Federal highways and public works enhance or mar the American landscape. The appearance of Government signs, pamphlets and questionnaires can make life easy or irritating for citizens.

But although poorly designed public buildings, spaghetti-like freeway intersections and confusing graphic gobbledygook are wasteful and ugly, little attention has been paid to...

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