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President Trump Orders Classical Design for Federal Architecture

Neil Campbell
Neil lives in Canada and writes about society and politics.
Published: December 24, 2020
President Trump issued an Executive Order on Dec. 18 titled Promoting Beautiful Federal Civic Architecture.
'Ancient Greek and Roman public buildings were designed to be sturdy and useful, and also to beautify public spaces and inspire civic pride,' President Donald Trump. (Image: Wikipedia)

President Trump issued an Executive Order on Dec. 18 titled Promoting Beautiful Federal Civic Architecture. “Societies have long recognized the importance of beautiful public architecture. Ancient Greek and Roman public buildings were designed to be sturdy and useful, and also to beautify public spaces and inspire civic pride.” 

Trump began his Order by paying homage to the wisdom of the Founding Fathers of this great nation by acknowledging that Washington and Jefferson had taken the ancient societies of Athens and Rome as their model for constructing the most important buildings in Washington, D.C.

“They sought to use classical architecture to visually connect our contemporary Republic with the antecedents of democracy in classical antiquity, reminding citizens not only of their rights but also their responsibilities in maintaining and perpetuating its institutions.”

The rationale for this decision was linked to today’s Constitutional crisis involving widespread evidence of election fraud spanning the battleground states that, to this day, no court in the country has had the courage to examine under oath and under the standards of state or federal laws. 

The Thurgood Marshall United States Courthouse in New York City. (Image: Wikipedia)

Beautifully designed buildings, such as the Thurgood Marshall United States Courthouse in New York City, the Pioneer Courthouse in Portland, and the Second Bank of the United States in Philadelphia were referenced as examples.

In the 1950s and 60s, the Ad Hoc Committee on Federal Office Space proposed the Guiding Principles for Federal Architecture. These principles took direct aim at classical, traditional architecture and instead declared that the Government should use modernist, contemporary designs. 

“The Federal architecture that ensued, overseen by the General Services Administration (GSA), was often unpopular with Americans. The new buildings ranged from the undistinguished to designs even GSA now admits many in the public found unappealing.”

Examples such as the Hubert H. Humphrey Department of Health and Human Services Building and Robert C. Weaver Department of Housing and Urban Development Building were admonished for their “brutalist” designs.

Brutalist was defined in the Order as “the style of architecture that grew out of the early 20th-century modernist movement that is characterized by a massive and block-like appearance with a rigid geometric style and large-scale use of exposed poured concrete.”

“In Washington, DC, Federal architecture has become a discordant mixture of classical and modernist designs,” noted the Order.

The National Civic Art Society conducted a Survey in October where they comprised seven pairs of images of existing courthouses and federal buildings. Each pair had one traditional style and one contemporary style building, and were not identified in any way. Both the pair order and the question order was randomized. The question asked for each pair was: “Which of these two buildings would you prefer for a U.S. courthouse or federal office building?”

The survey found 72 percent of respondents preferred the traditional pairing over the modernist pairing. They also found support for traditional architecture was nearly uniform across the political spectrum, with 73 percent of Republicans, 70 percent of Democrats, and 73 percent of independents choosing traditional architecture.

It also found consensus across age brackets. 77 percent of respondents 65 or older and 68 percent of respondents aged 18-34 chose traditional architecture. Meanwhile, women chose the traditional path 77 percent of the time while men chose it 67 percent. 

President Trump’s Order calls for new Federal buildings to be designed to inspire the human spirit, uplift and beautify public spaces, and ennoble the United States 

“It is time to update the policies guiding Federal architecture to address these problems and ensure that architects designing Federal buildings serve their clients, the American people.”

In the Policy section of the Order, Trump wants Federal buildings to be visibly identifiable as civic buildings. In D.C., specifically, he designated classical architecture as the preferred and default architecture required. 

When it comes to renovations and expansions in existing architecture, it is now required that the feasibility and expense of a building redesign be explored, especially when it comes to the exterior of Federal buildings. 

An unspecified official who participated in the creation of the Order told The Epoch Times: “I think the classical architecture of Greece and Rome is very wholesome, and it brings out the inherent order, structure, and beauty that humans crave.”

“I think the ultimate destroyer of human good is chaos. And I think that’s what brutalism is — it’s chaos. There’s no order. It’s just a bunch of concrete. It’s not nurturing.”

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