Trump admin is proposing an executive White House order to decide on architectural style for all new federal buildings

So many executive orders, so much twitter. What to do? Well, discuss it here for one...

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Trump admin is proposing an executive White House order to decide on architectural style for all new federal buildings

#1 Post by TrueTexan » Sun Feb 09, 2020 11:17 am

n a fascinating article, The New York Times shared the news that the Trump administration is proposing an executive White House order to decide on architectural style for all new federal buildings — to make them look akin to the classical style of the White House itself.

It’s less the choice in architecture itself that is striking as the fact that the White House believes that there needs to be a singular approach set by Donald Trump, a guy who has proved himself to be as uninterested in the arts as could be possible. But architecture? I guess as a builder, Trump sees himself as an expert.

Will the White House insist on gold drapes next?

By picking a “classical” approach inspired by Greek and Roman architecture as the default, Trump would at once underscore a kind of “conservative” approach to architecture and step on the creativity of the nation’s architectural artists who might try to match say form and function of a new building.

Plus, it is a little late for a call to uniformity, isn’t it? Do we think that the Smithsonian Institution (which is exempted) headquarters and the Air and Space Museum were designed by the same person? Or should have been?

The Times described a draft of an executive order called “Making Federal Buildings Beautiful Again” that was spearheaded by the National Civic Art Society, a nonprofit group that believes contemporary architecture has “created a built environment that is degraded and dehumanizing.” The order would govern the design of office buildings, headquarters, and courthouses, or any federal building project contracted through the General Services Administration that costs over $50 million.

Hey, Mr. President, don’t stop here. You could as easily dictate that all painting now be portraits or landscapes in figurative styles, that all music be Kid Roc-inspired knockoffs, that all movies be G-rated, and that they all mention you in a positive light at least once.

This president has distinguished himself by turning his back on attending the annual Kennedy Center awards for performing artists, by cutting National Endowment for the Arts money to zero each year of his presidency until overturned by Congress, by saluting the biggest physical architectural statement by this government as a Wall to keep immigrants from gaining access to the southern border.

Here’s what the architectural whisperers said: “For too long architectural elites and bureaucrats have derided the idea of beauty, blatantly ignored public opinions on style, and have quietly spent taxpayer money constructing ugly, expensive, and inefficient buildings,” according to Marion Smith, the group’s chairman. “This executive order gives voice to the 99 percent — the ordinary American people who do not like what our government has been building.”

The executive order would instead put national aesthetic opinion in the hands of D0nald Trump, the man who has brought us the Trump Towers and other buildings known for their garishness.

Architects told The Times this squashes creativity and imbues the president with power that doesn’t belong with him. The Times quoted Roger Lewis, architect and retired professor of architecture. “At the most fundamental level it’s a complete constraint on freedom of expression. This notion that the White House has expertise or knowledge or understanding of architecture and design sufficient to allow them to mandate that all federal buildings be classically styled is absurd.”

Trump has criticized the Federal Bureau of Investigation headquarters on Pennsylvania Avenue whose appearance Trump has criticized as brutalist. At the National Gallery of Art, one building finished in 1940 reflects classical style, and one completed in 1978 is triangular and more modern.

Actually, the executive order would set a high bar to get approval for any style other than classical, requiring approval by a presidential “re-beautification” committee and final okay by the White House.

According to The times, the order also accuses the government’s Design Excellence Program, which directs the federal government’s multibillion-dollar building program, of encouraging the proliferation of modern styles, arguing that “the federal government has largely stopped building beautiful buildings the American people want to look at or work in.”

The administration’s draft order, which was obtained by The New York Times, suggests an abrupt reversal of that ethos: “Classical and traditional architectural styles have proven their ability to inspire such respect for our system of self-government. Their use should be encouraged.”

Trump’s style at his own personal properties favors gilded furniture, marble flooring, and Louis XIV-style flourishes. But two of his higher-profile business projects, including the Trump Towers at Columbus Circle in New York City and The Trump Tower in Chicago, were built with modernist influences, noted The Times.

I agree with Michael Kimmelman, The Times’ architecture critic, who said “Just to have this argument feels demeaning,” adding, “Who knows what classicism ultimately means, but the draft order makes it come across as awfully prim and petty.”

From where I sit, the discussion of an executive order for architectural style fits perfectly in the current efforts at suffocating any thoughts that challenge Trump’s own. In TrumpWorld, there is no reason for specialized knowledge or even appreciation, no science or art work that can top the Trump gut, and a need to lean heavily on ever-recreating the decisions of the past.

The only good news in the proposed executive order is that Trump has not insisted on having his name emblazoned on building fronts.
https://www.rawstory.com/2020/02/critic ... buildings/

This just reminds me of history from about 80 to 90 years ago of another world leader that thought he was a "stable" genius that knew more than anybody especially about art, interior design, architectural style, armaments, strategy, diplomacy, and race relations. Trump's style in interior design and architectural style is very similar to that world leader, Adolf Hitler.
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Re: Trump admin is proposing an executive White House order to decide on architectural style for all new federal buildin

#2 Post by lurker » Sun Feb 09, 2020 12:42 pm

what a maroon.
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Re: Trump admin is proposing an executive White House order to decide on architectural style for all new federal buildin

#3 Post by JohnNewell » Sun Feb 09, 2020 1:01 pm

Trump's proposal for the new Air Force One. This tacky POS would replace the tasteful design that was created by Jacky Kennedy and used for decades.
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Re: Trump admin is proposing an executive White House order to decide on architectural style for all new federal buildin

#4 Post by lurker » Sun Feb 09, 2020 1:06 pm

he should devote his attention to designing the new prison jumpsuit, with built in necktie that hooks over the door. and he should test it too, as many times as it takes to get the job done. make himself useful, make america great again.
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Re: Trump admin is proposing an executive White House order to decide on architectural style for all new federal buildin

#5 Post by Eris » Sun Feb 09, 2020 1:12 pm

Personally, I'd like to see a return to the classical style of architecture, just updated to be energy efficient buildings. I hate modern architecture and think it's ugly as sin. People who go to Washington consider the classical architecture buildings to be tourist attractions, but the modern buildings are ignored. There's a good reason for that
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Re: Trump admin is proposing an executive White House order to decide on architectural style for all new federal buildin

#6 Post by YankeeTarheel » Sun Feb 09, 2020 1:18 pm

"Tasteless" is not a style!

"Fashions come, and fashions go, but bad taste is timeless!"
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Re: Trump admin is proposing an executive White House order to decide on architectural style for all new federal buildin

#7 Post by YankeeTarheel » Sun Feb 09, 2020 1:26 pm

Eris wrote:
Sun Feb 09, 2020 1:12 pm
Personally, I'd like to see a return to the classical style of architecture, just updated to be energy efficient buildings. I hate modern architecture and think it's ugly as sin. People who go to Washington consider the classical architecture buildings to be tourist attractions, but the modern buildings are ignored. There's a good reason for that
There's "modern" and then there's "modern". For example, one "modern" thing I HATE that many architects do that others don't, is not have a canopy or something over an entrance door. So in a rainstorm you have to lower your umbella in the rain, or fumble for your keys or key card while the "elements" drop on your head! A canopy or alcove gives you protection.

For people who preach "Form Follows Function" (which I heartily endorse) ignoring a key, albeit small function is a failure. Modern architecture is like modern art or modern music. Most of it is either mediocre or pure shit, but some is brilliant. Then, again, this is true of art and architecture from every era.

Unfortunately, mediocrity and crap are far more common than genius.
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Re: Trump admin is proposing an executive White House order to decide on architectural style for all new federal buildin

#8 Post by TrueTexan » Sun Feb 09, 2020 1:54 pm

Eris wrote:
Sun Feb 09, 2020 1:12 pm
Personally, I'd like to see a return to the classical style of architecture, just updated to be energy efficient buildings. I hate modern architecture and think it's ugly as sin. People who go to Washington consider the classical architecture buildings to be tourist attractions, but the modern buildings are ignored. There's a good reason for that
What do you consider classical style Roman/Greek, Gothic, Queen Anne, Arts&Craft, Art Deco or maybe Frank Lloyd Wright’s Prairie Style? All were considered to be the modern style of their times. To me the style of architecture has to fit the area. I can see the nineteenth century classical style for Washington DC as so much of the government’s buildings were built then, it fits. But it would stick out like a sore thumb in the Art Deco area of Miami or the southwest style of Santa Fe NM. The post modern style fits cities like Houston, Dallas- Fort Worth downtown areas. In Fort Worth they are building new buildings in the north side Stockyards area they should have a old west flavor. I’m just afraid that Great and Glorious Leader well want to put his ideas of style on them and we will see hideous glitzing overdone gilded crap like his hotels.
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Re: Trump admin is proposing an executive White House order to decide on architectural style for all new federal buildin

#9 Post by Eris » Sun Feb 09, 2020 1:58 pm

TrueTexan wrote:
Sun Feb 09, 2020 1:54 pm
Eris wrote:
Sun Feb 09, 2020 1:12 pm
Personally, I'd like to see a return to the classical style of architecture, just updated to be energy efficient buildings. I hate modern architecture and think it's ugly as sin. People who go to Washington consider the classical architecture buildings to be tourist attractions, but the modern buildings are ignored. There's a good reason for that
What do you consider classical style Roman/Greek, Gothic, Queen Anne, Arts&Craft, Art Deco or maybe Frank Lloyd Wright’s Prairie Style? All were considered to be the modern style of their times. To me the style of architecture has to fit the area. I can see the nineteenth century classical style for Washington DC as so much of the government’s buildings were built then, it fits. But it would stick out like a sore thumb in the Art Deco area of Miami or the southwest style of Santa Fe NM. The post modern style fits cities like Houston, Dallas- Fort Worth downtown areas. In Fort Worth they are building new buildings in the north side Stockyards area they should have a old west flavor. I’m just afraid that Great and Glorious Leader well want to put his ideas of style on them and we will see hideous glitzing overdone gilded crap like his hotels.
I'm specifically referring to the pseudo Greco-Roman style that is used in the "big name" government buildings, like the Supreme Court, Treasury, Capital, Jefferson Memorial etc. To me that is the style that says "US Government".
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Re: Trump admin is proposing an executive White House order to decide on architectural style for all new federal buildin

#10 Post by YankeeTarheel » Sun Feb 09, 2020 2:05 pm

Didja ever see the old GAO building? Probably the ugliest building of ANY style in Washington. It was described to me about 35 years ago "Look for the ugliest Stalinist building you can imagine!" Yup!

IM Pei's East Wing of the National Gallery is pretty spectacular, including the giant Calder mobile in the middle. The galleries tend to be perfectly lit, too. I went to Louvre once, back in 1976. I was stunned by how dreadful the light was. Something like The Coronation of Napoleon, simply couldn't be seen from any one spot, you had to move around just to see it all, like a mosaic.

Before Trump ruined it, the Old Post Office was pretty cool. His insanely overpriced restaurant / bar was a food court where I had lunch many times. Form follows function.
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Re: Trump admin is proposing an executive White House order to decide on architectural style for all new federal buildin

#11 Post by Bisbee » Sun Feb 09, 2020 2:17 pm

Some truly excellent modern-classical architecture I can imagine #45 suggesting. With columns and sh*t.

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...and domes. Big, round domes! The Biggest!
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Re: Trump admin is proposing an executive White House order to decide on architectural style for all new federal buildin

#12 Post by YankeeTarheel » Sun Feb 09, 2020 5:50 pm

Bisbee wrote:
Sun Feb 09, 2020 2:17 pm
Some truly excellent modern-classical architecture I can imagine #45 suggesting. With columns and sh*t.

Image

...and domes. Big, round domes! The Biggest!
Image
Hmmm....aren't those the Speer / Hitler structures, especially the dome (never built), as big as the SuperDome?
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Re: Trump admin is proposing an executive White House order to decide on architectural style for all new federal buildin

#13 Post by K9s » Sun Feb 09, 2020 7:20 pm

The articles I read about this "change" indicated that it narrows the contractors down to a few firms. Like "the wall" it is just a grift. A con. It is about giving taxpayer money to donors and mob associates.
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Re: Trump admin is proposing an executive White House order to decide on architectural style for all new federal buildin

#14 Post by K9s » Wed Feb 12, 2020 3:31 pm

MAGA War on Architectural Diversity Weaponizes Greek Columns

The Trump administration may impose a classical style on new federal buildings, a proposal aimed at the heart of modernism and diversity.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/07/arts ... cture.html
The Trump administration is now considering a draft executive order, “Making Federal Buildings Beautiful Again,” that would direct the use of traditional or classical architectural styles for nearly all new federal buildings and renovations. (The Smithsonian, as it happens, gets a pass, but I mention it to illustrate the sort of wellspring of ideas the order would subvert.) Any project seeking exemption from the mandate would have to get approval from a presidential “re-beautification” committee. The order would take aim at various forms of modernism and seeks to undo the widely admired Design Excellence Program of the General Services Administration, a peer review system for selecting qualified architects for federal projects. The program’s director, David Insinga, resigned last week, according to the Architectural Record, which broke the news about the order.

The news prompted strong protests from within the architectural profession and among historic preservationists and supporters of traditional architecture as well.

That’s because it almost seems conceived to provoke supporters of both modern architecture and architectural diversity. It’s a shiny object, Twitter bait. The populists versus the elites. Outrage enraptures President Trump’s base. It’s a win-win for him.

It’s probably not a win for proponents of the order like the National Civic Art Society, which spearheaded it. I have heard from organizations that support classical architecture but want to distance themselves from the proposal, its related politics and the Civic Art Society. The National Trust for Historic Preservation issued a statement Thursday in support of current federal standards, saying, “The draft order would put at risk federal buildings across the country that represent our full American story,” and adding, “We strongly oppose any effort to impose a narrow set of styles for future federal projects based on the architectural tastes of a few individuals.”

Who knows what classicism ultimately means, but the draft order makes it come across as awfully prim and petty. No matter how much its supporters say that enforcement wouldn’t be dogmatic, the order provokes inevitable allusions to authoritarian regimes of the past that imposed their own architectural marching orders, and dredges up images of antebellum America, when classicizing Federal architecture was all the rage. Associations like these might sound extreme; but then, so does the order.

Just to have this argument feels demeaning, like so much else about American public discourse today. Shouldn’t it go without saying that the United States has long exercised its soft power by building embassies and other buildings whose architectural nonconformity conveys an expedient message of optimism, innovation and freedom?

“Our ability to compete effectively in international markets depends largely on an often overlooked but integral element — design quality,” is the way President Ronald Reagan put it in 1987 when he announced a second round of federal awards for design excellence, a forerunner of the Design Excellence program that the proposed order aims to quash.

And does one really need to point out why it’s so rich of those who argue for states’ rights to argue against site-specific architecture, stylistically conceived to suit America’s diverse cultures, and instead favor obedience to a mandate from Washington? Or to explain that disagreements about architectural style speak to a healthy, democratic society in action? After all, there is no single style of architecture that represents nationhood — or that does not, and should not, provoke debate.

The executive order borrows language from the “Guiding Principles for Federal Architecture” that Daniel Patrick Moynihan wrote in 1962 when the future senator was working in Kennedy’s Labor Department. Moynihan believed that federal architecture “must provide visual testimony to the dignity, enterprise, vigor and stability of the American government.” The new proposal also refers to dignity, enterprise, vigor and stability.

But it undoes the key principles on which, as Moynihan made clear, those goals depend — that design must “flow from the architectural profession to the government, and not vice versa,” because expertise matters, and that “an official style must be avoided.”

In the current political climate, it can feel useless to bring up the issue of hypocrisy, so let’s leave Mr. Trump’s own modern glass towers aside. The draft order praises the Washington building now known as the Eisenhower Executive Office Building as “beautiful and beloved.” Harry Truman called it the “greatest monstrosity in America.” Suffice it to say that taste changes and style, by definition, is the most superficial criterion for evaluating architecture.

Buildings, like people, deserve to be regarded and judged individually. Context matters. Failure happens sometimes, as with anything meaningful in life. Adding Corinthian columns or Palladian windows to a federal courthouse or embassy guarantees nothing about whether a building works for the people who use it, nor does it testify to the dignity, enterprise and vigor of the American government. I can’t begin to list all the traditional buildings in America that I find uplifting and beautiful. But Greek columns and Italianate windows don’t make a building look more American to me.

The trap is falling into a debate over taste or style. It’s the sort of cultural divider this president loves to cultivate and exploit. Like most people, I can come up with a list of modern buildings I don’t like. But if I say I admire Mies van der Rohe’s Chicago Federal Center or Thomas Phifer’s United States Courthouse in Salt Lake City or the Oklahoma City Federal Building by Ross Barney, it would only serve as ammunition for the haters in the Twittersphere and for proponents of “Make Federal Buildings Beautiful Again,” who are basically arguing that federal architecture, like the Electoral College, doesn’t actually have to represent all the people, just select people.

In the end, we are what we build. In case anybody hasn’t noticed, the country’s infrastructure is in shambles, there’s a vast affordable housing shortage and the federal government continues to squander years doing nothing.

This seems as surely an indicator of the state of the union as the number of columns on a courthouse facade.
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Re: Trump admin is proposing an executive White House order to decide on architectural style for all new federal buildin

#15 Post by JohnNewell » Fri Feb 14, 2020 12:30 am

Hitler and the Nazis planned to make Berlin the center of the planet when they won WW2. Albert Speer was an architect and he made elaborate plans to transform Berlin. Sounds like the same mindset to me. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Germania_(city)

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Re: Trump admin is proposing an executive White House order to decide on architectural style for all new federal buildin

#16 Post by Bisbee » Fri Feb 14, 2020 3:18 am

Yeppers. Though I don’t quite understand why the proud Aryans wanted buildings that brought up associations with olive-munching Italians and dark, swarthy Greeks. Nor the Trumpenführer for that matter.
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Re: Trump admin is proposing an executive White House order to decide on architectural style for all new federal buildin

#17 Post by shinzen » Fri Feb 14, 2020 8:46 am

Of all the things to get outraged over, this is literally just something to get people talking about shit that doesn't really matter. Most .gov buildings that are actually where work gets done (agencies) are not pretty. They are office buildings. Like most office buildings, they look like boxes. Who cares?

Distraction from the rest of the disaster that is this presidency.
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Re: Trump admin is proposing an executive White House order to decide on architectural style for all new federal buildin

#18 Post by lurker » Fri Feb 14, 2020 8:50 am

"Distraction"
:yes:
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Re: Trump admin is proposing an executive White House order to decide on architectural style for all new federal buildin

#19 Post by K9s » Fri Feb 14, 2020 12:45 pm

lurker wrote:
Fri Feb 14, 2020 8:50 am
"Distraction"
:yes:
Yes, but also corruption. Narrowing the contractors down to friends of the regime by dictating art/style is unprofessional and naked corruption.
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Re: Trump admin is proposing an executive White House order to decide on architectural style for all new federal buildin

#20 Post by TrueTexan » Fri Feb 14, 2020 1:30 pm

K9s wrote:
Fri Feb 14, 2020 12:45 pm
lurker wrote:
Fri Feb 14, 2020 8:50 am
"Distraction"
:yes:
Yes, but also corruption. Narrowing the contractors down to friends of the regime by dictating art/style is unprofessional and naked corruption.
He wants to find people and companies that will work on his properties for little to nothing for a promise they will get a piece of the government building projects at inflated cost plus contract.

Nothing new here just look at KBR and Vietnam War, Iraq, Afghanistan for just a few building and supporting contracts.
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Re: Trump admin is proposing an executive White House order to decide on architectural style for all new federal buildin

#21 Post by YankeeTarheel » Fri Feb 14, 2020 3:07 pm

Trump's decorations of EVERYTHING he touches, is gaudy, overblown, tasteless, and a nouveau's nouveau's idea of crass, oops, class! (2 "nouveaus" is deliberate).
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Re: Trump admin is proposing an executive White House order to decide on architectural style for all new federal buildin

#22 Post by TrueTexan » Fri Feb 14, 2020 5:40 pm

In 2014, during the winter in his second term, Hungary’s far-right prime minister, Viktor Orbán, ordered the installation of a new statue in one of Budapest’s oldest squares. The unveiling of the statue, which depicts Hungary as the archangel Gabriel being attacked by an eagle representing Germany, sparked days of protests from critics, who accused Orbán of attempting to obscure the country’s role in the murder of nearly half a million of its citizens during the Holocaust.

“Erecting a public statue always bears with it an intrinsic meaning beyond the statue itself,” Orbán said in a speech that year at the unveiling of a different war memorial, where he proselytized his brand of nationalism and urged voters to reject the “disintegrated liberal era.” He continued, “There is a reason why revolutions and world wars often begin with the toppling of statues.”

For centuries, autocrats, authoritarians, and dictators have held a fascination with using architecture as a political tool to glorify their regimes, often while also dismissing modern architectural styles as lowbrow, cold, or weak. The current crop of far-right world leaders with authoritarian impulses is no different—and that now appears to include President Donald Trump.

Last week, the trade magazine Architectural Record obtained a copy of a draft executive order from the White House, titled “Making Federal Buildings Beautiful Again,” that would require newly built or upgraded federal structures to hew to “the classical architectural style.” It doesn’t strictly specify what the “classical” style encompasses, but it cites the infrastructure of “republican Rome” as its inspiration. While the order is only a draft, figures in and out of the field took it seriously enough to condemn it. The plan appalled the 163-year-old American Institute of Architects, which called the draft order’s “uniform style mandate” antithetical to democratic ideals. D.C.’s urban planning director was more blunt: “It is authoritarian,” he wrote on Twitter.

The nonprofit that has reportedly lobbied in favor of the draft order, the National Civic Art Society, has called modern architecture “ugly, strange, and off-putting”; in a manifesto on its website, the group writes that “the classical tradition, harkening back to democratic Athens and republican Rome, is time-honored and timeless. It is unparalleled in its dignity, beauty, and harmony.” Some of that language is copied verbatim in the Trump administration’s draft order. No wonder: Trump has appointed two members of the National Civic Art Society to the U.S. Commission on Fine Arts.

As many critics of the draft order have pointed out, while there is much to appreciate in classical and neoclassical buildings, admirers of these styles have long included authoritarians who see these schools as embodying the glory of the state. Adolf Hitler notoriously held a fascination with classical architecture, as did other fascist leaders of his time. When totalitarianism flourished across Europe, so did “fascist architecture,” or the construction of new federal monuments and buildings in the same architectural style. More than just a way to telegraph leaders’ political vision for the country, it was a way to inspire and reinforce national unity, inextricably weaving together lived experience and political philosophy. At the heart of all that building was a belief that architecture could be a political statement about whom society serves and what it values.

A similar logic undergirds Trump’s draft order. “Federal building designs should … inspire the public for their aesthetics, make Americans feel proud of our public buildings,” it reads. “Classical and traditional architectural styles have proven their ability to inspire such respect for our system of self-government.” Frequently, the leaders who adopted a national architectural aesthetic styled themselves as economic populists, investing in federally funded infrastructure projects to signal a kind of economic rebirth.

In Benito Mussolini’s Italy, this meant a slate of new post offices, courthouses, train stations, and public squares. Hitler, meanwhile, had the Nazi architect Ludwig Ruff design a new hall of Congress for the party. Both leaders prized a style called “stripped classicism,” which borrowed heavily from Greco-Roman silhouettes but cleared them of their ornament.

With the resurgence of far-right nationalism in the new century, echoes of fascist architecture have found their way back again. But it’s not a shared insistence of classicism’s superiority that links the contemporary examples: Not every would-be authoritarian is obsessed with Grecian columns. What links them is how they want to use architecture to inspire a kind of superiority—of the leader over his predecessors, and of the state over others.

Last month, the influential Danish architect Bjarke Ingels faced backlash from his contemporaries when he was photographed smiling next to Brazil’s hard-right populist president, Jair Bolsonaro, who has defended torture and opposes same-sex marriage, abortion, gun laws, and immigration. (Not incidentally, Bolsonaro had to fire his culture minister last month after the man, Roberto Alvim, borrowed from a 1933 Nazi propaganda speech by Joseph Goebbels while announcing a nearly $5 million investment in an arts grant program.)

Bolsonaro is now seeking Ingels’ help in developing a tourism master plan for Brazil’s northeast, the country’s poorest region, with the goal of doubling the country’s overall tourism by 2022. Responding to criticism of his “fact-finding mission,” Ingels told the Guardian, “The road to ethical impact as an architect is to [propose] the future we want to companies and governments, even if they have different views.” Ingels is somewhat of an aesthetic chameleon who has referred to his own work as both “pragmatic utopianism” and “hedonistic sustainability.”

But for Bolsonaro, who openly admires Trump and lusts after relationships with wealthier countries, Ingels’ style is beyond the point. After decades of creeping development in the region, attracting luxury investment is within Bolsonaro’s grasp. Never mind that it won’t be for everyone —“we can’t let this place become known as a gay tourism paradise,” he said last April. He’s made clear that whatever he builds, he builds exclusively for the like-minded.

Like Bolsonaro, the Philippines’ president, Rodrigo Duterte, has promised to revive his country through the act of building itself, with the number of new infrastructure projects in the pipeline both the vehicle for and measure of his political success. Duterte, who reigns over a country where an estimated 22,000 people have died in extrajudicial killings, promised upon taking office that his term would usher in a “golden age of infrastructure.” His administration has coined the term “DuterteNomics” to describe the strategy.

Included in a list of 100 major development projects Duterte wants to launch before his term ends in 2022 is building a new city north of Manila, called New Clark, from scratch. (Authoritarians love to raise cities where none exist. Mussolini famously oversaw the development of a city called Latina, now a provincial capital that was erected from swampland.) Duterte has promised that New Clark City will prioritize climate resilience, and renderings of it look like stills from the glittering new landscape of Abu Dhabi. In Duterte’s Philippines, there is no room for the classical aesthetic of the past—only aggressive modernity in both form and function.

Of course, this is the Philippines that Duterte wants the world to see, instead of the way it actually is: a place where neofeudalism has contributed to a 22 percent poverty rate and left tens of thousands of peasant farmers without any rights to the soil they work. But it is New Clark City, Duterte says, that will be his “legacy project,” or as the country’s press shop puts it, “a showcase to the world of the Philippines’ cultural identity.”

Orbán, meanwhile, is preoccupied with the explicitly symbolic: He wants to spend nearly $800 million to turn a 250-acre park in Budapest into a grove of national monuments. Across the Danube River, Orbán ordered that the city’s National Gallery of Art be moved from its home in a centuries-old castle that used to host Hungarian kings so that he may relocate his offices to the campus. Critics have, in turn, suggested that he has an “edifice complex.”

Like his foreign compatriots, Trump has attempted to repurpose old monuments for personal gain. He is currently weathering a multistate lawsuit over his continued financial involvement in D.C.’s Trump International Hotel, the least garish commercial property in his portfolio by virtue of its location in the iconic Romanesque Old Post Office Building.

“You just couldn’t build something like this today,” Ivanka Trump said of the building in 2014, admiring its glass atrium, granite turrets, and detailed wainscoting. Chiming in, her father indicated that the building signals a stratum of wealth that he covets, citing its double-bay windows and 16-foot ceilings—“unheard-of in a hotel,” he told the New York Times. “Today, you couldn’t even buy a piece of it. When the U.S. was so rich, this is the way they would build them,” he said. Some 30 years after a failed attempt to build a medieval castle on New York City’s Madison Avenue, he finally got his turreted tower.

It’s true that Trump is not an obvious champion of “classical” architecture and that the Trump International in D.C. is an outlier among his holdings. Most Trump properties tend to look more like cigarettes wearing body armor than replicas of the Parthenon. But as is typical of real estate developers, Trump shares the authoritarian’s impulse to remake cities in his image. And there’s nothing quite like a string of uniformly styled federal buildings sprawled across the country to bolster the Trump brand, particularly when their presence is supposed to “physically symbolize” American greatness, as the draft order proclaims.

In 2016, then–presidential candidate Trump promised voters a $1 trillion national infrastructure plan. Two years later, during his 2018 State of the Union address, he called for a budget that would allow the country to “build gleaming new roads, bridges, highways, railways, and waterways across our land.” While he has since suggested creating a $20 billion fund to build structures of “national significance” that would “lift the American spirit, that are the next-century-type of infrastructure,” it remains unfunded. Instead, he is turning his eye to design.

The White House’s draft order—which singles out federal courthouses in Austin and Miami, among other buildings, as having “little aesthetic appeal”—reflects Trump’s political instincts: to obscure the ugliness of need, to erase the blight of diversity. They recall his previous denigrations of America, from its cities (Baltimore is “disgusting, rat and rodent-infested”) to its people (the homeless “ruin those cities,” and one of the two dozen women who accused him of sexual assault is “not my type”).

Like the gilded disco flash of Trump’s hotels in Vancouver and Las Vegas, the fetishization of the Greco-Roman aesthetic is stuck in time—too on-the-nose to signal true style, too lazy to telegraph real greatness or creativity of thought. In the Trump era, it’s just another vehicle for projected nostalgia. When you prize only the veneer of functionality, making America greater is just a matter of putting up some marble columns.
https://slate.com/business/2020/02/tru ... order.html

Trump shouldn’t be able to give input in designing or building even a dog house. Dogs deserve better.
Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.-Huxley
The illegal we do immediately; the unconstitutional takes a little longer-Kissinger
Reasoning will never make a Man correct an ill Opinion, which by Reasoning he never acquired.-Swift

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Re: Trump admin is proposing an executive White House order to decide on architectural style for all new federal buildin

#23 Post by JohnNewell » Sat Feb 15, 2020 12:30 am

YankeeTarheel wrote:
Fri Feb 14, 2020 3:07 pm
Trump's decorations of EVERYTHING he touches, is gaudy, overblown, tasteless, and a nouveau's nouveau's idea of crass, oops, class! (2 "nouveaus" is deliberate).
I was dating a woman with an apartment in Manhattan 25 years ago and we walked by Trump Towers. She said that everyone joked about how tacky it was. And she was a conservative Republican.

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