An executive order has been signed by President Trump calling for a return to the kind of 19th century architectural styles that distinguishes the U.S. Capitol and Supreme Court building in Washington.
What is officially called the Promoting Beautiful Federal Civic Architecture order states that all new federal buildings in the nation’s capital must be designed in the traditional neoclassical style.
The order additionally applies to the construction of federal buildings and courthouses in cities and districts outside of Washington, if the construction price tag of the building is more than $50 million.
While the order does not outright prohibit more modern architectural designs for new government buildings, it does specifically state that “classical architecture shall be the preferred and default architecture for federal public buildings, absent exceptional factors necessitating another kind of architecture.”
The order has won the condemnation of the American Institute of Architects, which says it is opposed to “uniform style mandates for federal architecture.”
But the National Civic Art Society, as quoted by the publication The Architect’s Newspaper, has announced its support for the order, contending, “The design of federal buildings should reflect the aesthetic and symbolic preferences of the people they are built to serve—namely, classical and traditional architecture.”
Although the executive order may well apply to federal buildings currently in the planning and design stages, its ultimate future remains, at the very least, murky. Says the publication Ad Pro: “From the moment Joe Biden walks into the West Wing, he will be under considerable pressure from industry groups and the media to reverse the order.”
By Garry Boulard