Trump Order Requires Classical Architecture for Federal Buildings

Executive order slams 'unappealing' modernist buildings in Washington, DC
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 21, 2020 5:32 PM CST
Trump Order Requires Classical Architecture for Federal Buildings
The Supreme Court building, constructed in neoclassical style, was completed in 1935.   (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

With 29 days left in office, President Trump is seeking to leave his mark on the architecture of Washington, DC. An executive order issued Monday states that new federal buildings in the nation's capital should be constructed in classical styles, the Federalist reports. "Classical architecture encompasses such styles as Neoclassical, Georgian, Federal, Greek Revival, Beaux-Arts, and Art Deco," states the order, which denounces the "uninspiring," "unpopular," and "unappealing" modernist buildings constructed from the 1950s onward. The Founding Fathers "sought to use classical architecture to visually connect our contemporary Republic with the antecedents of democracy in classical antiquity," states the order, which is titled "Promoting Beautiful Federal Civic Architecture."

The National Civic Art Society, a nonprofit that promotes classical public architecture, praised Trump for insisting on "tradition and beauty," though other groups say the order fails to take into account modern buildings' technology and security needs, NPR reports. Robert Ivy, head of the American Institute of Architects, says the organization is "absolutely opposed" to the order. "In the 21st century, we're very different people from the people who popularized Greek Revival architecture in the 19th century, as beautiful as it was," he says. "To try to force-fit new systems in old forms is ... difficult to do, inefficient, and is not who we are today." The order creates a President's Council on Improving Federal Civic Architecture, which is due to submit a report by Sept. 30 next year, though it's not clear whether the new administration will take any action. (More architecture stories.)

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