Nearly three-quarter of Americans (72 percent) prefer traditional architecture for U.S. courthouses and federal office buildings, according to a new poll.
These findings come after controversy engulfed a draft version of a Trump administration executive order that would re-orient federal architecture in a traditional direction, including requiring new office buildings in Washington, D.C., be classical in design. Despite proposed legislation—entitled the “Democracy in Design Act” —in the House of Representatives to overturn this anticipated order, this poll shows large bipartisan majorities support the order’s intent.
According to the poll’s results:
- an overwhelming majority of Americans, more than seven in 10, prefer traditional architecture for U.S. courthouses and federal office buildings;
- Democrats (70 percent), Republicans (73 percent), and Independents (73 percent) all agree on their preference for traditional architecture;
- preference for traditional architecture unites majorities of Baby Boomers (age 65+) and Gen-Z (age 18 to 34), and traditional styles are the choice of 77 percent of those aged 65 or older, and 68 percent of those aged 18 to 34;
- majorities of Black (62 percent), Hispanic (65 percent), and white (75 percent) Americans prefer traditional architecture; and
- the typical markers of ‘elite’ status (higher earning and education levels) do not diminish a preference for traditional architecture, and it is the clear choice of Americans making a household income under $50,000 (73 percent) and those making a household income over $100,000 (70 percent); those with a high school degree or less (72 percent), and those with a bachelor’s degree or greater (72 percent).
“At a time when Americans are deeply divided across so many areas, it is heartening to see the vast majority of us can at least agree on federal architecture,” said Justin Shubow, NCAS president. “Americans have long cherished classical and traditional architecture for their federal buildings both for their beauty and because they are widely accepted symbols of our democracy. Such dignified buildings connect us to our heritage and are associated with continuity, equality, openness, and precedent. They are courthouses that look like courthouses, and public buildings that look public. The design of federal buildings should reflect the aesthetic and symbolic preferences of the people they are built to serve. Nonetheless, for over 60 years, architectural elites, Modernist mandarins, and a coterie of critics have foisted their antithetical preferences on federal design.”