Colonnade with daric columns. Public building.

Trump Contemplates Buildings-Related Executive Order, AIA Responds

  February 11, 2020

By Greg Zimmerman

A proposed executive order from President Trump would mandate that all federal buildings be built in the “classical style” to resemble Greek and Roman architecture, according to the NY Times. A draft of the proposed executive order obtained by Architectural Record says that neoclassical would now be the “preferred and default style” for all new government buildings. The draft decries the General Services Administration for failing to integrate “our national values into Federal buildings.” 

The Make Federal Buildings Beautiful Again executive order would apply to any federal building costing more than $50 million, and would reverse a 50-year-old document called the U.S. Guiding Principles for Architecture, which states that “an official style should be avoided” in regards to federal buildings. The Guiding Principles also states that “Design must flow from the architectural profession to the government and not vice versa.”

The American Institute of Architects released a statement scathingly condemning the executive order. “The AIA strongly opposes uniform style mandates for federal architecture. Architecture should be designed for the specific communities that it serves, reflecting our rich nation’s diverse places, thought, culture and climates. Architects are committed to honoring our past as well as reflecting our future progress, protecting the freedom of thought and expression that are essential to democracy.”

AIA also sent a letter to the Trump Administration to make clear in no uncertain terms its  opposition to the proposed executive order: “The American Institute of Architects (AIA) is writing this letter to express its strong and unequivocal opposition to the draft executive order circulating within your Administration to mandate a federal style of architecture.” It continues: “The AIA does not, and never will, prioritize any type of architectural design over another. There are many examples of beautiful and innovative buildings in all styles of architecture.” And concludes: “President Trump, this draft order is antithetical to giving the ‘people’ a voice and would set an extremely harmful precedent. It thumbs its nose at societal needs, even those of your own legacy as a builder and promoter of contemporary architecture. Our society should celebrate the differences that develop across space and time. AIA remains staunchly opposed to this proposed Executive Order. Please ensure that this order is not finalized or executed.” 

Finally, AIA issued a memo to its members urging them to oppose the executive order.

This post was submitted by Greg Zimmerman, executive editor, Building Operating Management and FacilitiesNet.com. Read his cover story about Chris Walinski and his mission to make open offices flexible and productive. 


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