Biden Ditches Trump’s Classical Architecture Order

Late Wednesday, President Joe Biden scrapped former President Donald Trump’s controversial executive order stating new U.S. government buildings must be “beautiful”  with a preference for “traditional and classical architecture”, according to a Politico report.

Trump’s order, signed in the final moments of the Trump presidency, in December 2020, stipulated that new buildings commissioned for the federal government must be “beautiful” and names classical and traditional architecture as the preferred style. “It disparaged the modernist architectural styles of some federal buildings as “ugly” and a jarring contrast with local architectural styles. The Trump administration hailed Greco-Roman-inspired buildings as an important homage to democracy in antiquity, “according to the Politico report.

“Encouraging classical and traditional architecture does not exclude using most other styles of architecture, where appropriate,” read the order.

The executive order met with objections across the architectural community who were against prescribing any official style for government buildings. However the order had relatively weak enforcement placing only a preference for classical styles in future buildings and did not outright ban brutalism.

“Though we are appalled with the administration’s decision to move forward with the design mandate, we are happy the order isn’t as far reaching as previously thought,” Robert Ivy, CEO of the American Institute of Architects, said in a statement at the time.

Architectural critic Philip Kennicott called on Biden to “act swiftly to remove the current member,” in a piece he recently wrote in The Washington Post. “They should be replaced by a diverse range of professionals, including women and people of color, who bring a broader aesthetic perspective to the Commission’s monthly meetings,” he demanded.

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About Catherine Smith

Catherine Smith is a newcomer to Washington D.C. She met and married an American journalist and moved to D.C. from the U.K. She graduated with a B.A. in Graphics, Media, and Communications and worked in design and retail in the U.K.

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