Federal buildings should be designed on a more 'human scale' and used in ways that would improve the social and commercial life of neighborhoods, a Senate panel was told yesterday by architects and design specialist.

"Recently costructed federal buildings are often not regarded findly by their communities. People often says that these buildings create as image of a government remote from the people," Roy F. Knight, acting director of the architecture and environmental arts program of the National Endownment for the Arts, told the Senate Public Works Subcommittee on Buildings and Grounds.

Knights, pointing to recent studies stressing that the "image of remoteness" results not only from the way buildings lock but the way they are used, urged that "government buildings become mixed-use' buildings," offering various services that would "make them more inviting and accessible to the public." Such changes are encouraged by the new Public Buildings Cooperative Use Act.

"The Pennsylvania Avenue face of the J. Edgar Hoover FBI Building," he said, as an example, "is a forbidding, monolithic wall at present. But the panels that make up this wall at ground level can be removed, leaving a series of spaces that could be filled with shops or cafes."

John M. McGinty, president of the American Institute of Architects called on Congress "to insure that a climate of openness, of receptivity to change, is maintained" in the designing of buildings.

Wolf Von Eckhardt, who is helping write a program for a National Museum for the Building Arts, urged that "every public building program be examined with the premise not that growth is progress, that bigger is better, but that small is beautiful."

He also urged that the pub lic "actively participate in the planning and design of the buildings" and that they be located where they would be "good for the people who need something good done for them."