Trump signs executive order for new public buildings to have ‘classical and traditional’ architecture

President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Monday governing the construction of public buildings, the Washington Examiner reported

“Under the Design Excellence Program, [General Services Administration] has often selected designs by prominent architects with little regard for local input or regional aesthetic preferences,” the order states.

“The resulting Federal architecture sometimes impresses the architectural elite, but not the American people who the buildings are meant to serve,” it continued.

The order contended that “[m]any of these new Federal buildings are not even visibly identifiable as civic buildings.”

“Uplift and beautify”

Instead, Trump’s order demands that government structures “uplift and beautify public spaces, inspire human spirit, ennoble the United States, command respect from the general public, and, as appropriate, respect the architectural heritage of the region.”

In particular, preference is to be shown for “classical and other traditional architecture” as these styles have “proven their ability to meet these design criteria and to more than satisfy today’s functional, technical, and sustainable needs.”

A Council for Improving Federal Civic Architecture will be established to provide guidance on architectural decisions, Bloomberg reported.

Opposition

Not everyone is on board with the new directive, however, including Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV), according to Bloomberg

The congresswoman declared in a letter to GSA Administrator Emily Murphy that, “Imposing a preferred architectural style for federal facilities runs counter to our nation’s democratic traditions.”

“Attempting to implement this misguided mandate from Washington, D.C., by circumventing Congress and gutting decades of GSA policy and practice without any public notice or hearing is even worse,” she insisted.

On Nov. 12, a Bloomberg piece noted that the Trump administration was already incorporating stylistic architectural requirements into its building contracts for courthouses in Alabama. It pointed to a contract for a federal courthouse in Huntsville, Alabama, which states that the GSA “intends that the design of the new courthouse be neoclassical/greek revival in style in keeping with other recent Federal courthouses in the State of Alabama.”

If this executive order from the Trump administration stands, it will leave a lasting legacy on the beauty of the country’s architecture, and particularly in its capital city.

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