A new proposed legislation, the ‘Democracy in Design Act,’ if passed, will override the draft executive order released last year by President Donald Trump mandating classical architecture as the preferred design style for all federal courthouses and other federal properties.
Congresswoman Dina Titus introduced the Democracy in Design bill to the House of Representatives on July 13. The proposed act would override the executive order by directing the General Service Administration (GSA) “to ensure the construction and acquisition of public buildings in the United States adheres to the Guiding Principles for Federal Architecture.” By codifying GSA’s Design Excellence Program principles into statute, Congress will ensure the federal government maintains its current neutrality on architectural styles and takes away a president’s power to change them through an executive order.
“Our public buildings should reflect the rich diversity of our nation and its people,” said Rep. Titus. “They should signify our progress over the years and be as accessible as possible.”
The American Institute of Architects (AIA) strongly supports the proposed legislation. “Mandating any single design style will undermine the value of the very architectural style it seeks to promote,” said AIA 2020 president Jane Frederick, FAIA. “Buildings—both functionally and aesthetically—must be designed to serve their populations. It is critical that communities have the ability to decide for themselves what architectural design best fits their needs.”
Currently, the design bill has been referred to the Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management, and a date for a House vote is yet to be set, as per The Architects Newspaper.