In Gaudy We Trust: Trump Issues Exec Order Mandating Classical Architecture On Fed Buildings

US President-elect Donald Trump waves toward the media after meeting Martin Luther King III at Trump Tower in New York City on January 16, 2017. - The eldest son of American civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr. m... US President-elect Donald Trump waves toward the media after meeting Martin Luther King III at Trump Tower in New York City on January 16, 2017. - The eldest son of American civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr. met with US President-elect Donald Trump on the national holiday observed in remembrance of his late father. (Photo by DOMINICK REUTER / AFP) (Photo by DOMINICK REUTER/AFP via Getty Images) MORE LESS
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December 21, 2020 2:09 p.m.

More than 300,000 Americans killed in the raging coronavirus pandemic. Hospital systems buckling and overwhelmed. Widespread economic devastation. And what is President Trump focused on this week? An executive order “promoting beautiful federal civic architecture.”

He’s a builder, after all.

Trump announced the executive order Monday morning. The order’s text bemoans a lack of “beautiful” federal buildings — and seeks to change it.

“With a limited number of exceptions, such as the Tuscaloosa Federal Building and Courthouse and the Corpus Christi Federal Courthouse, the Federal Government has largely stopped building beautiful buildings,” the order reads. “In Washington, D.C., Federal architecture has become a discordant mixture of classical and modernist designs.”

“It is time to update the policies guiding Federal architecture to address these problems and ensure that architects designing Federal buildings serve their clients, the American people. New Federal building designs should, like America’s beloved landmark buildings, uplift and beautify public spaces, inspire the human spirit, ennoble the United States, command respect from the general public, and, as appropriate, respect the architectural heritage of a region,” the order’s text continues.

Never mind that many of Trump’s eponymous skyscrapers are modern-looking steel and glass structures, complete with lots of gaudy gold decor.

A number of commentators on Twitter noted that authoritarian leaders love the sort of neoclassical buildings Trump is boosting in the order.

Others pointed out how Trump surely has better things to do with his limited time left in government.

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