U.S President Donald Trump has declared an executive order that “the classical architectural style shall be the preferred and default style” for all new or refurbished federal buildings on February 4.
The draft of the order, titled Making Federal Buildings Beautiful Again, calls for inspiration from the architectural likes of “democratic Athens” and “republican Rome”.
In rewriting the Guiding Principles for Federal Architecture issued in 1962, the discourse surrounding the classical style of architecture being ordered has sparked controversy.
“A proposal such as Making Federal Buildings Beautiful Again potentially reduces an entire architectural philosophy to a caricature,” according to The Washington Post.
“Arbitrarily pasting columns and arches on a building so it looks like a Parthenon-Colosseum hybrid is pretentious – and doesn’t make the building classical.”
“The draft decries the quality of architecture under the General Service Administration’s (GSA) Design Excellence Program for its failure to re-integrate ‘our national values into Federal buildings’ which too often have been ‘influenced by Brutalism and Deconstructivism,’” according to Architectural Record.
The originally Guiding Principles mandated that Federal architecture “must provide visual testimony to the dignity, enterprise, vigor and stability of the American government,” according to Architectural Record.
The Brutalist and Deconstructivist styles “fail to satisfy these requirements and shall not be used.”
“Design must flow from the architectural profession to the government and not vice versa,” the original Guiding Principles also state.
“If we short-circuit the public conversation about the most symbolic expression of the nation’s founding principles – our federal buildings – we will have faltered in our quest to form a more perfect union,” according to The Washington Post.