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October 27, 2020
by AIA New York Board of Directors
Wilson County Court House, Wilson, North Carolina. Credit: Beyond My Ken via Wikimedia Commons.

AIA New York expresses its strong opposition to the continued efforts of the Trump Administration to mandate that federal buildings reflect classical architectural styles. We unequivocally oppose this policy to promote one style of architecture for federal buildings across the country, as it disregards the diversity of American art and the American people. 

Late last year, the administration was considering a draft executive order titled “Making Federal Buildings Beautiful Again,” which would officially designate “classical” architecture as the preferred style for many federal buildings. Despite objections, the Trump Administration has continued moving ahead with its mission to mandate classical design. 

More recently, in its solicitation for a leader design architect for a Ft. Lauderdale courthouse, the General Service Administration (GSA) required that classical architecture be “the preferred and default style.   

These actions represent a direct attack on the mission of the GSA. The department’s “Guiding Principles for Federal Architecture,” written by late New York Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, state that, “The development of an official style must be avoided. Design must flow from the architectural profession to the government, and not vice versa.”  

Earlier this year, we partnered with our Members of Congress to send a letter to the administration opposing the draft executive order. Meanwhile, our national organization has been working with Congress to pass the “Democracy in Design Act,” which would make the GSA’s guiding principles law.  

The results of the upcoming election will have a great impact on our ability to stop the implementation of design mandates, and we encourage our members to consider that when voting. No matter who wins the election, AIANY will continue to advocate for its members’ freedom of expression. 

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