Trump order: federal buildings should only be ‘beautiful’ and ‘classical,’ modern architecture style ‘brutalism’ prohibited


President Donald Trump speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House, in Washington on Nov. 13, 2020. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

In the final stretch of his presidency, Pres. Donald Trump has issued an executive order to leave his architectural preferences on government buildings.

On Monday, the White House issued a Trump executive order mandating that federal buildings should be designed in “classical” styles reminiscent of 1950s aesthetics. The order, titled, “Beautiful Federal Civic Architecture,” outlines Trump’s feelings that America’s forefathers “wanted public buildings to inspire the American people and encourage civic virtue” and that architects should keep this in mind when they design.

“In Washington, D.C., classical buildings such as the White House, the Capitol Building, the Supreme Court, the Department of the Treasury, and the Lincoln Memorial have become iconic symbols of our system of government. These cherished landmarks, built to endure for centuries, have become an important part of our civic life,” Trump says.

If you’re wondering why “brutalism” is a Twitter trend on Monday afternoon, it’s because the president calls the modern architecture style — and other contemporary types, “unappealing” and unidentifiable when used for federal buildings.

“New Federal building designs should, like America’s beloved landmark buildings, uplift and beautify public spaces, inspire the human spirit, ennoble the United States, command respect from the general public, and, as appropriate, respect the architectural heritage of a region,” he says.

Now, new federal buildings should adhere to classical architecture like neoclassical, Georgian, Federal, Greek Revival, Beaux-Arts, and Art Deco. These styles are more decorative and ornate and overall, less “slate” than the particular styles Trump finds offensive.

Trump dictates that the General Services Administration, or GSA, oversaw many “unpopular” modernist buildings should seek input from people who will use new buildings and people who live in the area before deciding designs.

Under the order, “federal public building” means a federal courthouse or agency headquarters and all other federal public buildings that cost or are expected to cost over $50 million.

Many online criticized the order, arguing the president should be focusing on the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic rather than building designs.

For more information on Brutalism and other design terms, visit Tate.

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