The Architecture of Owning the Libs

Everyone in the political world has suddenly decided that they have very strong opinions about architecture now that the Trump administration is floating an executive order to mandate “classical” architecture in federal buildings.

The draft executive order, reported last week by Architectural Record, “would require rewriting the Guiding Principles for Federal Architecture, issued in 1962, to ensure that ‘the classical architectural style shall be the preferred and default style’ for new and upgraded federal buildings.” The order is titled, inevitably, “Making Federal Buildings Beautiful Again.”

This is an attempt to create an official style of architecture dictated by Donald Trump and his hangers-on. Or maybe just by Trump: the executive order notes right off the bat that “Washington and Jefferson, both amateur architects, personally oversaw the competitions to design the Capitol Building and the White House.” You can bet this was written to appeal to Trump’s vision of himself as amateur architect in chief.

This prospect has set off a spate of poorly informed comments on the history of art and architecture by people who seem to have developed an interest in the topic a week ago when it became the latest chess piece in their partisan battles.

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