President Donald Trump’s taste when it comes to architecture is well known. In short, he doesn’t have good taste. But he’s considering an executive order that would give him absolute control over how federal buildings look across the country.
Trump’s buildings are not very well received by the public and his style is something that former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein would love, what with his obsession with gold plating and marble floors, not to mention to the narcissistic way he slaps his name on every structure.
That’s very well what we could all end up seeing if Trump gets his way because of an executive order currently in the draft phase.
According to Architectural Record:
[T]he White House would require rewriting the Guiding Principles for Federal Architecture, issued in 1962, to ensure that “the classical architectural style shall be the preferred and default style” for new and upgraded federal buildings. Entitled “Making Federal Buildings Beautiful Again,” the draft order argues that the founding fathers embraced the classical models of “democratic Athens” and “republican Rome” for the capital’s early buildings because the style symbolized the new nation’s “self-governing ideals” (never mind, of course, that it was the prevailing style of the day).
The plan would be for Trump to have final control over the architecture style of all new federal buildings, an authoritarian move that would squash freedom of expression and creativity, forcing architects to remain in the past instead of looking to the future.
“At the most fundamental level it’s a complete constraint on freedom of expression,” Roger Lewis, architect and retired professor of architecture, told the New York Times. “This notion that the White House has expertise or knowledge or understanding of architecture and design sufficient to allow them to mandate that all federal buildings be classically styled is absurd.”
The current architectural guidelines for federal buildings were written in 1962 by then assistant Secretary of Labor Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who encouraged a free flow of design from architects to create buildings that embody “the dignity, enterprise, vigor, and stability of the American government.”
And most importantly, the guidelines are open-minded, which allows architects to shape the future.
Therefore, giving Trump absolute control would be a major mistake that stifles this creativity and takes America backward as the rest of the world speeds ahead.
In response, the American Institute of Architects voiced opposition.
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.
While classical designs worked well in the past and are certainly still appreciated now, newer buildings should not adopt the same style because then the style would no longer be unique. Besides, Trump has decidedly poor taste that only one of his boot-lickers would love, and the last thing we need is to have his name on more buildings.
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