We’re now at the end of the road where Trump imagines that he can affect future architectural style in federal buildings. And of course he wants an airport named after him.
So-called neofederal building styles that devolved to facadism in the modern and post-modern periods(sic), remind us that Trump’s own large-scale buildings are devoid of historical reference. Not exactly a master builder.
— Michael Beschloss (@BeschlossDC) November 27, 2020
— Andrew Feinberg (@AndrewFeinberg) December 21, 2020
President Donald Trump never implemented a proposed measure that would have effectively banned new federal buildings from being constructed in the modern style, but one government agency has put its policy into practice anyway.
In at least two instances, the General Services Administration has echoed language that appeared in Trump’s “Making Federal Buildings Beautiful Again” draft executive order, Bloomberg Citylab reported.
Had it been carried out, the order would have made “classical architectural style” — the style of the U.S. Capitol — as the default style for federal buildings, such as courthouses. The order circulated in February and wasn’t signed amid intense backlash from architects and others.
But in a solicitation for a $125 million courthouse set for Fort Lauderdale, Florida, the GSA wrote that “classical architectural style shall be the preferred and default style absent special extenuating factors necessitating another style,” a verbatim quote from Trump’s original draft executive order, according to Citylab.
In a similar solicitation for a courthouse in Huntsville, Alabama, the agency wrote that “the GSA intends that the design of the new courthouse be neoclassical/Greek revival in style, in keeping with other recent Federal courthouses in the State of Alabama.”
The American Institute of Architects has criticized the GSA practice and the notion of an official style or a ban on certain types of architecture.
Rather than pre-qualified architects receiving the chance to design uniquely-contemporary federal structures for the cities they serve, all future government buildings would instead be reminiscent of the monumental, white construction that has defined Washington, D.C., since its inception, as well as the structures built-in ancient Rome and Greece, and more recently, in Hitler’s Third Reich. Tradition is beautiful, the order argued; modernism (especially Brutalism and Deconstructivism) is ugly. Case in point: the draft order was titled “Make Federal Buildings Beautiful Again.”
— Bloomberg CityLab (@CityLab) December 6, 2020
— Brandon Farmahini (@MrFarmahini) December 21, 2020
Nazi architecture is the architecture promoted by the Third Reich from 1933 until its fall in 1945. It is characterized by three forms: a stripped neoclassicism (typified by the designs of Albert Speer); a vernacular style that drew inspiration from traditional rural architecture, especially alpine; and a utilitarian style followed for major infrastructure projects and industrial or military complexes.