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February 5, 2020
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AIA National

AIA Continues to Advocate to Stop the Execution of an Executive Order Requiring Federal Buildings to be Designed in a Classical Style

By AIA National

In case you haven't already seen it, you should've received an email from Sarah Dodge of AIA National's Government Affairs, concerning a draft executive order that would officially designate “classical” architecture as the preferred style for federal courthouses, all federal public buildings in the Capital region, and all other federal public buildings whose cost exceed $50 million in modern dollars. The email is copied below in its entirety.

AIA continues to aggressively advocate to stop President Trump from executing an executive order that would require federal buildings to be designed in a classical style.  If you haven't signed the action letter directed to the President, please do so using the link below.


The AIA is aware (and has been actively addressing this) that there is a draft executive order circulating for consideration by White House officials that would officially designate “classical” architecture as the preferred style for the following building types: federal courthouses, all federal public buildings in the Capital region, and all other federal public buildings whose cost exceed $50 million in modern dollars. The AIA strongly and unequivocally opposes this change in policy to promote any style of architecture over another for these types of federal buildings across the country. 

The draft executive order defines “classical architectural style” to mean architectural features derived from classical Greek and Roman architecture. There are some allowances for “traditional architectural style” which is defined to mean classical architecture along with Gothic, Romanesque, and Spanish colonial. The draft executive order specifically prohibits the use of Brutalist architecture, or its derivatives.

Except for Brutalism, there is some language in the draft executive order that would allow for other architectural styles to be used in cases where it could be conclusively proven that a different style is necessary. However, the high bar required to satisfy the process described within the executive order would all but restrict the ability to design the federal buildings under this order in anything but the preferred style. The process would include a personal written justification from the Administrator, which cannot be delegated to staff, and which is still subject to review by the White House.

The AIA strongly condemns the move to enforce a top-down directive on architectural style. All architectural styles have value and all communities have the right to weigh in on the government buildings meant to serve them.

The AIA has been communicating with White House staff on this issue. We urge you to add your voice to reiterate our fervent belief that design decisions should be left to the designer and the community, not bureaucrats in Washington, DC. Click here to email President Trump.

Sincerely,

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