Trump plans on ‘Making Federal Buildings Beautiful Again’ with executive order: report

President Trump is planning on “Making Federal Buildings Beautiful Again” with an executive order that would make a classical style the default for federal buildings in Washington and other parts of the country, The New York Times reported Wednesday.

The draft order would encourage Greek and Roman architectural designs instead of modern architecture. The order is expected to go in front of Trump next month, a person familiar with the development told the Times.

“Classical and traditional architectural styles have proven their ability to inspire such respect for our system of self-government. Their use should be encouraged,” reads a draft of the order published by The Chicago Sun-Times.

The National Civic Art Society pushed for the order, arguing that contemporary design in buildings is “dehumanizing,” according to the Times. The group developed the order about a year ago and met with White House officials such as Joe Grogan, the head of the Domestic Policy Council, according to people involved in the planning.

The new guidelines would apply to any federal government buildings contracted through the General Services Administration (GSA) and cost more than $50 million. The proposed changes would not affect Smithsonian-funded museums.

“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, head of the National Civic Art Society, wrote in a text message to the Times.

Smith told The Hill that the order is “a great step forward” in revising the GSA design process and “protecting the classical design of Washington, D.C.,” which has had “bipartisan consensus…for hundreds of years.”

He called some of the reactions to the executive order “outrageous ” and “not based in reality,” adding that the committee will include analysis of cost, sustainability and environmental concerns.

The order would implement a “re-beautification” committee to discuss designs, but the White House would ultimately decide which style is approved. Proposed modern designs would have to reach a higher bar to obtain approval, the newspaper reported.

Some architects have criticized the proposed order, saying it would give the White House the authority to regulate design, an area they say President Trump doesn’t have expertise in.

The American Institute of Architects has encouraged members to speak out against the order and sign a petition condemning the “top-down approach” of regulating design.

“By restricting design decisions through this executive order, it would put Washington bureaucrats in charge of design decisions affecting communities they may never visit,” the petition reads.

News of the draft executive order was first published by the Architectural Record.

—Updated at 2:25 p.m.

Tags Architecture Donald Trump federal buildings
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