The National Civic Art Society has made a proposal to establish a “classical architectural style” for all new federal buildings in Washington D.C. and across the U.S.
The proposed executive order, which is called “Make Federal Buildings Beautiful Again” in a play on U.S. President Donald Trump’s old slogan, seeks to establish an architectural style inspired by Greek and Roman architecture for government buildings, according to the New York Times.
Proponents of the move say that modern design and architecture should be kept out of federal building design as it’s “degraded and dehumanizing”, and hope to have the executive order ready for Trump’s consideration within a month.
“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, told the Times. “This executive order gives voice to the 99 percent—the ordinary American people who do not like what our government has been building.”
The order specifically mentions buildings such as the Departments’ of Labor, Health and Human Services, and the Housing and Urban Development agency’s headquarters, as being “undistinguished, uninspiring and just plain ugly”.
But not everyone is keen on the idea of a more neoclassical approach to government buildings. Some critics say the order could give President Trump too much of a say when it comes to making aesthetic decisions.
“At the most fundamental level, it’s a complete constraint on freedom of expressions,” Roger K. Lewis, an architect and a professor emeritus of architecture at the University of Maryland, told the Times. “This notion that the White House has expertise or knowledge or understanding of architecture and design sufficient to allow them to mandate that all federal buildings be classically styled is absurd.”
The Federal News Network added in a second report that it’s unclear how far the draft executive order has gone through the White House’s vetting process and whether it will even move forward.