AIA staunchly opposes Trump’s plan to impose classical architecture on federal buildings

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has issued a letter to President Donald Trump rejecting a proposed executive order mandating all federal buildings be designed in classical architecture style. Photo © www.bigstockphoto.com
The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has issued a letter to President Donald Trump rejecting a proposed executive order mandating all federal buildings be designed in classical architecture style.
Photo © www.bigstockphoto.com

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has issued a letter to President Donald Trump opposing an executive draft order mandating uniform designs for federal architecture.

In the seven-page document titled “Make Federal Buildings Beautiful Again” obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times, Trump declares, “Architectural styles—with special regard for the classical architectural style—that value beauty, respect, regional architectural heritage, and command admiration by the public are the preferred styles for applicable federal public buildings.”

“In the National Capital Region and for all federal courthouses, the classical architectural style shall be the preferred and default style absent special extenuating factors necessitating another style,” the draft said.

In its letter, the AIA said, “The AIA, and its 95,000 members, works to advance our nation’s quality of life and protect the public’s health, safety, and welfare through design, as it has done for 160 years. We always work with the communities to assess the most appropriate architecture for projects within those communities. A one-size-fits-all mandate simply ignores needed input from impacted parties.”

“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,” the letter added.

Leave a Comment

11 comments on “AIA staunchly opposes Trump’s plan to impose classical architecture on federal buildings”

  1. Have you seen the hideous monstrosity that is the federal courthouse in Salt Lake City, Utah? Perhaps if there were some guidelines in how federal buildings are designed that blot on SLC wouldn’t be there.

    1. Like it or not, this modernist building has considerably more integrity than a regurgitated interpretation of an historic federalist or gothic edifice. I’m sure there was considerable vetting of the design both within the federal government and the community before it was approved. Trying to recreate a mythic past in contemporary society makes as much sense as adding tailfins to a Tesla.

  2. I do not recall the National AIA taking a vote from it’s ‘paying’ AIA members in regards to their individual opinions on this topic, nor has anyone else for that matter. What I see is a few people trying to speak for the membership. I know I was not asked my opinion and of course I am only one of 80,000 +/- members ( associate and licensed architects) and I just checked and their are approximately 113,500 +/- licensed architects in the US approximately. Of course there will be someone to dispute my observation. ; )

  3. I’m a member of the AIA and wasn’t asked my opinion. I’ve never set up an online survey but I doubt it would have been a very difficult thing to actually ask the opinion of their paying members.

  4. I concur with the other posts and comments made about AIA leadership not first seeking input from members about their opinion on the topic of Federal Architecture design. Prior to issuing a reply letter rejecting the President’s proposal to promote the classical style of architecture for federal buildings therer should have been some polling and surveying of membership. Also, I would not characterize the proposal as a “one size fits all mandate”. I think that this topic should be reviewed and discussed further.

  5. In reply to President Trump’s “Make Federal Buildings Beautiful Again” I offer that the AIA issued a letter assuming mass agreement without a survey to either approve or disapprove of the author’s opinion expressed. As for one of your reader’s comment about “putting tailfins on a Tesla”, it would be worth noting here that the tailfins were introduced in about 1956 by “designers” as THE modernist approach to auto design. This began a rush to achieve the longest or highest tailfin available, to outshine the others.Death of the trendy tailfin occurred in 1958.But unlike trendy autos that are scrapped in a short period of time, buildings last upwards of 50 years with Federal buildings easily reaching 100. Our Washington architecture quietly lasts beyond trends. And yes, I am a 45+ year member of the AIA.

  6. The arrogance of the AIA to try and dictate terms to a client as if the client ought to bow and prostrate to this organization. The true stripes of the AIA showed at the beginning of the Obama Administration by compromising its dignity and decorum to obtain shovel ready projects and climate change doctrines. Sad. A client chooses its course and the customer is responsible to provide and address the client’s needs – not dictate terms for their own agenda.

    Federal building architecture is important to have a consistent identification of the Owner. In this case the US Government’s prowess to imbue the cause of freedom and protection of liberty. The US taxpayers and the world should have a consistent image emblazoned in their memory. Guessing at an image of the architect’s own tribute to itself is shameful and only indicative of the architect’s agenda not the clients.

Leave a Comment

Comments

Your email address will not be published.