AIA pledges to undo Trump’s “beautiful” architecture order after he leaves

The Capitol in Washington DC is an example of neoclassical architecture

The American Institute of Architects says it “unequivocally opposes” new architecture rules signed by outgoing US president Donald Trump and vows to undo them as soon as his successor takes office.

Trump signed an executive order yesterday insisting all new federal government buildings must be considered “beautiful” and ideally be designed in the classical or traditional style.

“We look forward to working with president-elect Biden”

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has publicly denounced the presidential directive.

“Communities should have the right and responsibility to decide for themselves what architectural design best fits their needs,” said AIA CEO Robert Ivy.

“We look forward to working with president-elect Biden to ensure that,” he added.

Joe Biden won the November 2020 election against Trump and will be sworn in on 21 January 2021. Biden has already announced he intends to sign his own executive orders, including re-committing the US to the Paris climate agreements.

Trump design mandate “appalling”

Titled Executive Order on Promoting Beautiful Federal Civic Architecture, the last-minute decree from Trump rails against an “architectural elite” and states that classical and traditional building styles are “the preferred architecture”.

The AIA expressed relief that the final order was less concerning than the draft order published earlier this year, which threatened to ban modernist architecture styles such as brutalism and prompted the AIA to send over 11,000 letters to the White House in protest.

“Though we are appalled with the administration’s decision to move forward with the design mandate, we are happy the order isn’t as far-reaching as previously thought,” said Ivy.

AIA backs “diversity” in architecture styles

Still, the AIA took exception to the executive order’s attempt to prescribe architectural styles and establish a new design council that would report to the president.

“It inappropriately elevates the design tastes of a few federal appointees over the communities in which the buildings will be placed,” the AIA statement said.

Instead, the AIA said it maintained a “style-neutral” stance on public architecture and remained committed to “diversity” in American architecture.

Earlier this month the AIA banned its members from designing spaces for execution or solitary confinement in a move to “dismantle racial injustice”.

Main image of Capitol Hill in Washington DC by David Mark via Pixabay.

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