Republicans Introduce Bill Mandating That Federal Buildings Adhere To ‘Classical Style’
A December 2020 executive order signed by then-President Donald Trump mandated that all new federal buildings must be “beautiful” and designed in the classical style.
The order never went into effect as Trump left office soon after.
Now, Republicans are introducing legislation that promotes federal styles that align with “classical architecture.”
Trump’s original order effectively banned modern architecture for courthouses, administrative offices and other federal buildings.
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In recent weeks, though, House and Senate Republicans have pushed to make classical architecture the preferred style for federal projects through the Beautifying Federal Civil Architecture Act. While this bill would not completely ban modernist architecture, it would make Brutalist or Deconstructivist designs very hard to carry out.
The bill is extremely vague, simply calling for federal buildings that “uplift and beautify public spaces” and “inspire the human spirit.” It defines classical architecture by noting practitioners of the style and creates a burdensome amount of paperwork for any project that does not follow the “preferred” style of buildings.
The bill is likely to fail, as there are no Democratic supporters in the House or Senate, and Biden has opposed the idea since Trump originally suggested it in 2020.
However, many fear that the Beautifying Federal Civil Architecture Act will only add to the partisan divide within the country, throwing another topic for debate into an already crowded arena.
The Biden administration has recently taken steps to ensure that the general public has more say over federal architecture. The General Services Administration has already pledged to mandate that architects utilize local feedback in their future designs.
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