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February 9 2020

Trump Administration: Make Federal Buildings Beautiful Again

by Charlotte Hays

Washington is a beautiful place to live, even if you must sometimes avert your eyes from hideous modern federal buildings.

President Trump is planning to do something to ensure we build fewer of these eyesores in the future.

President Trump is set to sign an executive order entitled "Make Federal Buildings Beautiful Again.”

Needless to say, the architectural establishment is up in arms.

The Chicago Sun Times obtained a copy of the order:

In a seven-page draft executive order obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times, Trump declares that the federal government since the 1950s has “largely stopped building beautiful buildings that the American people want to look at or work in.”

Future federal government buildings, he decrees, should look like those of ancient Rome, Greece and Europe.

The order only declares that classical styles will be the default style. It doesn't rule out innovation. But the order does have a high appreciation of classical styles.

“Classical and traditional architectural styles have proven their ability to inspire such respect for our system of self-government. Their use should be encouraged,” the order states.

The group that pushed for the order is the National Civic Art Society, which the Washington Post dismisses as “a little-known architectural design group” that is “advocating new guidelines that radically change the look a feel of federal buildings.”

Actually, the National Civil Art Society is composed of accomplished men and women who care about architectural beauty. It started small and it’s nice to see them being recognized. Kudos to the Trump administration for listening to them.

Their first undertaking, in 2011, was a campaign against having architect Frank Gehry design the memorial to President Dwight Eisenhower. The Society maintained that the process for awarding the project to Gehry was flawed and that (maybe I am paraphrasing a bit) Gehry’s work is ugly.  They also said that Gehry's style just didn't suit Eisenhower.

Moreover, the Society says that Washington’s contemporary architecture has “created a built environment that is degraded and dehumanizing.”

The New York Times was as dismissive as the Washington Post but did quote the Civic Art Society’s chairman:

“For too long architectural elites and bureaucrats have derided the idea of beauty, blatantly ignored public opinions on style, and have quietly spent taxpayer money constructing ugly, expensive, and inefficient buildings,” Marion Smith, the group’s chairman, wrote in a text message. “This executive order gives voice to the 99 percent — the ordinary American people who do not like what our government has been building.”

I can see that it would be essential to make sure the order promotes beauty without stultifying architecture in Washington.

But you have only to see buildings such as the one that houses the F.B.I., in the fittingly named Brutalist style, or the sterile Marcel Breuer HUD building, to recognize that something of this kind was long overdue.

The Times report features a few gratuitous potshots and the style of Trump hotels.

Only President Trump could be deemed a barbarian for advocating beauty!

 





Independent Women's Forum is an educational 501(c)(3) dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities. IWF is the sister organization of the Independent Women’s Voice.​
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