Why “Making Federal Buildings Beautiful Again” Executive Order is a Very Bad Idea

Arts and humanities quarterly Athenaeum Review published the online version of my essay “Classicism by Decree” which will also appear in print in the upcoming issue. The essay was prompted by a leaked draft of a new executive order “Making Federal Buildings Beautiful Again” meant to supplant the existing General Services Administration Guiding Principles for Federal Architecture. These were put in place in 1962 with  the aim of maximizing architectural innovation while upholding quality and longevity of construction. The new rules, once signed into law, will mandate that all federal buildings shall be erected in “classical architectural style.”

Given that all prominent 20th century examples of mandated classical-style implemented and enforced in the name of “the people” were part of larger ideological and political programs of totalitarian regimes,  “Making Federal Buildings Beautiful Again” calls, in the least, for skepticism, if not outright protest.

Nevada Supreme Court and Nevada Court of Appeals building, 408 E. Clark Ave., Las Vegas, Nevada. Yohan Lowie, EHB Companies, 2017.