Timothy Neesam (Flickr/CC)

‘Make Architecture Great Again’: Trump Mulls Executive Order To Restore ‘America’s Classical Architectural Heritage’


President Trump wants to make architecture great again, according to a new, draft executive order.

The President is reportedly considering the executive order entitled “Making Federal Buildings Beautiful Again,” ensuring that newly-constructed buildings and those undergoing renovations adhere to the America’s “architectural heritage” consistent with the Founding Fathers’ “classical architecture of democratic Athens and republican Rome… to physically symbolize the then-new nation’s self-governing ideals.”

It would replace the current “Guiding Principles for Federal Architecture” from 1962 that has given rise to many of the modernist and brutalist federal buildings with “little aesthetic appeal” that have garnered “public derision instead of admiration.”

The executive order points to various buildings including the Hubert H. Humphrey Department of Health and Human Services building to demonstrate the “just plain ugly” style:

The FBI Hoover Building

President Trump is not a fan of the post 1960 style.

While railing against the FBI, he reportedly took umbrage with the bureau’s headquarters, the J. Edgar Hoover Building, calling it the “one of the ugliest buildings in the city.”

The FBI Hoover Building

The executive order calls for an architectural aesthetic that “values beauty, respects regional architectural heritage, and commands admiration by the public” exemplified by “the White House, the Capitol Building, and the Supreme Court” and establishes a “Committee for the Re-Beautification of Federal Architecture” to oversee the changes.

United States Supreme Court Building

The executive order heeds the advice of Roger Scruton – the recently deceased conservative philosopher – who emphasized beauty and traditionalism as a means by which to restore traditional values.

“There is a deep human need for beauty, and if you ignore that need in architecture, your buildings will not last, since people will never feel at home in them,” warned Scruton.

Speaking of modern, federal architecture, the National Civic Art Society declared: “The public finds it ugly, strange, and off-putting… It has created a built environment that is degraded and dehumanizing.”

Meanwhile, the American Institute of Architects – a trade association representing many modern architects – said of the executive order: “The AIA strongly opposes uniform style mandates for federal architecture. Architecture should be designed for the specific communities that it serves, reflecting our rich nation’s diverse places, thought, culture and climates. Architects are committed to honoring our past as well as reflecting our future progress, protecting the freedom of thought and expression that are essential to democracy.”

Natalie Winters

Natalie Winters is freelance reporter.

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