Feds put Neoclassical architecture policy into practice

The General Services Administration has on at least two occasions explicitly described a preference for the traditional style

New York Weekend Edition /
Nov.November 14, 2020 02:00 PM
(Credit: iStock)

(Credit: iStock)

President Donald Trump never implemented a proposed measure that would have effectively banned new federal buildings from being constructed in the modern style, but one government agency has put its policy into practice anyway.

In at least two instances, the General Services Administration has echoed language that appeared in Trump’s “Making Federal Buildings Beautiful Again” draft executive order, Bloomberg Citylab reported.

Had it been carried out, the order would have made “classical architectural style” — the style of the U.S. Capitol — as the default style for federal buildings, such as courthouses. The order circulated in February and wasn’t signed amid intense backlash from architects and others.

But in a solicitation for a $125 million courthouse set for Fort Lauderdale, Florida, the GSA wrote that “classical architectural style shall be the preferred and default style absent special extenuating factors necessitating another style,” a verbatim quote from Trump’s original draft executive order, according to Citylab.

In a similar solicitation for a courthouse in Huntsville, Alabama, the agency wrote that “the GSA intends that the design of the new courthouse be neoclassical/Greek revival in style, in keeping with other recent Federal courthouses in the State of Alabama.”
The American Institute of Architects has criticized the GSA practice and the notion of an official style or a ban on certain types of architecture.

Nevada State Representative Dina Tutus has also introduced a bill to prohibit the GSA from adopting a ban on modernism and has issued an inquiry regarding the Fort Lauderdale and Huntsville courthouses. [Bloomberg]Dennis Lynch


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