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lockmat

“Make Federal Buildings Beautiful Again”

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Thoughts?


Donald Trump wants to “make federal buildings beautiful again” by mandating a return to “the classical architectural style”, according to a draft executive order obtained by Architectural Record on Tuesday.”

 

https://amp.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/feb/04/trump-federal-buildings-beautiful-classical-order

 

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1 hour ago, lockmat said:

Thoughts?


Donald Trump wants to “make federal buildings beautiful again” by mandating a return to “the classical architectural style”, according to a draft executive order obtained by Architectural Record on Tuesday.”

 

https://amp.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/feb/04/trump-federal-buildings-beautiful-classical-order

 

 

It's about time?

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In a perfect democracy, there would be a panel of options (with their price tag). The locals could vote on the new or replacing structure as they have to view and/or attend in this space. We can look to the past for inspiration, but should leave it at that. Besides, a building is only as good as its maintenance, regardless of materials.

 

Then we can also start discussing materials and how easy it is to renovate or adapt to new technologies. I'm not sure, as I'm not a GC, architect, or engineer.

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9 hours ago, lockmat said:

Thoughts?


Donald Trump wants to “make federal buildings beautiful again” by mandating a return to “the classical architectural style”, according to a draft executive order obtained by Architectural Record on Tuesday.”

 

https://amp.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/feb/04/trump-federal-buildings-beautiful-classical-order

 

 

I don't really care for the fact that this is being done by presidential fiat, but like all things this president does I end up supporting it simply due to the reactions of entitlement and snobbery by the other side because they really think that they know everything and that people so just let them have all the power.

 

The people that this mandate has provoked have come out of the woodwork reminding people of what they really care about and that is not architecture or the discipline at large, but power. Raw power. They don't like this move because they lose power. The arrogance too. Like this quote below by an architectural critic:

 

Quote

Pulitzer prize-winning architectural critic Paul Goldberger said the problem with the order was “not with classical architecture per se”.

It was, he said, that “the mandating of an official style is not fully compatible with 21st-century liberal democracy”.

 

"Not fully compatible" with 21st-century liberal democracy"??? The entire capital was built in the Neo-Classical style due to the styles roots in Greek architectural tradition which was the birth place of democracy. The 21st-century doesn't make these traditions not true, or worth evoking in architecture. Besides, what does this guy who's profession is to do nothing, but complain about what he doesn't like know about 21st-century democracy?

 

Then there is this one. Oh man. This guy should basically just come out and say 'hey client, you don't matter, give me money, and let me do whatever I want',

 

Quote

“Design must flow from the architectural profession to the government and not vice-versa,” Moynihan writes. “The government should be willing to pay some additional cost to avoid excessive uniformity in design of federal buildings.”

 

No it doesn't. We are consultants there to help assist and guide the client to the best possible design which will make them happy. We don't control anything except our consultants and the parts of the design that we can actually control. The client is primary, not the architect. Design comes from the client, not the architect! The architects job is to visualize and realize the clients vision, and at the same time mix a little bit of theirs as well to the degree it makes sense. This kind of arrogant attitude nearly destroyed this profession in the late 80's and 90's when postmodern design ideas were at their peak. Architects were no longer being taken seriously and were all arrogant jerks. Now postmodernism wants another crack at my profession, but from the business end. It can go shove it.

 

The president is the client and whatever the client wants is the whatever the client gets. End of story. When you extend it further the president is only there because of the voters which means that it makes The People the client as well. Some unelected architect is not supposed to be the arbiter of what things look like.

 

There is so much more I can go into. I can talk about this for hours as I've had a lot of deep philosophical discussions in my mind about this over the past couple years, but I'm going to cut off my rant for now. I've come to really hate these idiots because they actually make have to defend this guy, a guy I didn't even vote for.

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3 hours ago, Luminare said:

 

I don't really care for the fact that this is being done by presidential fiat, but like all things this president does I end up supporting it simply due to the reactions of entitlement and snobbery by the other side because they really think that they know everything and that people so just let them have all the power.

 

The people that this mandate has provoked have come out of the woodwork reminding people of what they really care about and that is not architecture or the discipline at large, but power. Raw power. They don't like this move because they lose power. The arrogance too. Like this quote below by an architectural critic:

 

 

"Not fully compatible" with 21st-century liberal democracy"??? The entire capital was built in the Neo-Classical style due to the styles roots in Greek architectural tradition which was the birth place of democracy. The 21st-century doesn't make these traditions not true, or worth evoking in architecture. Besides, what does this guy who's profession is to do nothing, but complain about what he doesn't like know about 21st-century democracy?

 

Then there is this one. Oh man. This guy should basically just come out and say 'hey client, you don't matter, give me money, and let me do whatever I want',

 

 

No it doesn't. We are consultants there to help assist and guide the client to the best possible design which will make them happy. We don't control anything except our consultants and the parts of the design that we can actually control. The client is primary, not the architect. Design comes from the client, not the architect! The architects job is to visualize and realize the clients vision, and at the same time mix a little bit of theirs as well to the degree it makes sense. This kind of arrogant attitude nearly destroyed this profession in the late 80's and 90's when postmodern design ideas were at their peak. Architects were no longer being taken seriously and were all arrogant jerks. Now postmodernism wants another crack at my profession, but from the business end. It can go shove it.

 

The president is the client and whatever the client wants is the whatever the client gets. End of story. When you extend it further the president is only there because of the voters which means that it makes The People the client as well. Some unelected architect is not supposed to be the arbiter of what things look like.

 

There is so much more I can go into. I can talk about this for hours as I've had a lot of deep philosophical discussions in my mind about this over the past couple years, but I'm going to cut off my rant for now. I've come to really hate these idiots because they actually make have to defend this guy, a guy I didn't even vote for.

I've always thought public structures (federal, state, and local), should have different design options shown to the public to be put up for a vote. Perhaps with their price tag.

 

No problems with Neo-Neo-Classical, but are they more expensive to build & maintain? Further to that, are they more expensive to update with evolving technologies? I don't think one style should be dominate over the other, it simply comes down to tastes & opinions. Of course there is knee-jerk reactions to the metapolitical implications. Even the worst of administrations still did a little bit of good, occasionally. 

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Keep this about the architectural issues please.  Everyone is free to express their political thoughts, in the Politics sub-forum.  

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20 hours ago, Subdude said:

Keep this about the architectural issues please.  Everyone is free to express their political thoughts, in the Politics sub-forum.  

 

Just because Trump is mentioned doesn't mean that we are discussing Politics, and while this topic is intertwined in the messy game that is politics due to the very fact that this is going on at the highest levels of government, does not mean that this conversation has veered in that direction. Everything that has been discussed thus far has remained firmly within the realm of architecture and the discourse that comes with that. If you disagree please let me know what is at issue, and then I can as well as others can address it. Now if your intention is head people off at the pass, then I can understand, but this has been exclusively an architectural discussion from the word go.

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51 minutes ago, Luminare said:

Now if your intention is head people off at the pass, then I can understand, but this has been exclusively an architectural discussion from the word go.

Image result for head them off at the pass blazing saddles

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1 hour ago, Luminare said:

 

 this has been exclusively an architectural discussion from the word go.

 

 

Actually it wasn't, hence my post.  People mention the president or politics all the time, and that's fine, but some posts had moved off the issue.

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22 minutes ago, Subdude said:

 

 

Actually it wasn't, hence my post.  People mention the president or politics all the time, and that's fine, but some posts had moved off the issue.

 

Examples? I'm just curious. You are a mod, and I understand what says goes, but would like to know how you perceived this the way that you did, and I ask because I do respect you as a mod.

Edited by Luminare

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I like this plan. These buildings are more beautiful and it seems to me the materials are easier to maintain and age better than modern materials. This architectural style has lasted thousands of years. 
 

What are some everyone’s favorite non-classical federal buildings?

 

The original article by Architectural Record is worthy of a read, since it makes helpful clarifications not told by the headline and gives the philosophy of the mandate.

 

https://www.architecturalrecord.com/articles/14466-will-the-white-house-order-new-federal-architecture-to-be-classical

Edited by lockmat

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I'd be curious to know what real impact this will have.  Given the timeline for buildings, President Trump will likely be out of office before too many buildings are designed, even if he gets four more years.  I would think the next president could revoke this at will if he was so inclined.  Are there some buildings in the design phase right now that might be affected?

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Apropos of nothing the government pushed monolithic modernist government buildings to make people feel safe from nuclear fallout in the post-Bomb age 

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9 hours ago, EllenOlenska said:

Apropos of nothing the government pushed monolithic modernist government buildings to make people feel safe from nuclear fallout in the post-Bomb age 

 

Yep - that's why 515 Rusk (the Bob Casey courthouse) has exterior walls that are a couple feet thick and very small windows.  Back in the day it had Civil Defense shelter signs as well.

 

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This plan is not necessarily bad since it at least eliminates brutalist and post-modern styles.  I would like to see a revival of traditional architecture but I have an expansive definition of that which includes Beaux-Arts (examples of which include the UT Tower and the Met) and Spanish Colonial.  I particularly enjoy the symbolism and details of those structures.  For example, the facades of cathedrals are covered in statues and inscriptions that mean something.  A blank wall is boring.

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Brutalist managed to run its course on its own a decade or three ago; likewise post modern as expressed by things like pasting on giant decorations.  Besides, imposing arbitrarily detailed rules just causes people charged with following them to come up with ways to follow the letter while ignoring the "spirit."

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On ‎2‎/‎5‎/‎2020 at 9:27 AM, Luminare said:

 

I don't really care for the fact that this is being done by presidential fiat, but like all things this president does I end up supporting it simply due to the reactions of entitlement and snobbery by the other side because they really think that they know everything and that people so just let them have all the power.

 

The people that this mandate has provoked have come out of the woodwork reminding people of what they really care about and that is not architecture or the discipline at large, but power. Raw power. They don't like this move because they lose power. The arrogance too. Like this quote below by an architectural critic:

 

 

"Not fully compatible" with 21st-century liberal democracy"??? The entire capital was built in the Neo-Classical style due to the styles roots in Greek architectural tradition which was the birth place of democracy. The 21st-century doesn't make these traditions not true, or worth evoking in architecture. Besides, what does this guy who's profession is to do nothing, but complain about what he doesn't like know about 21st-century democracy?

 

Then there is this one. Oh man. This guy should basically just come out and say 'hey client, you don't matter, give me money, and let me do whatever I want',

 

 

No it doesn't. We are consultants there to help assist and guide the client to the best possible design which will make them happy. We don't control anything except our consultants and the parts of the design that we can actually control. The client is primary, not the architect. Design comes from the client, not the architect! The architects job is to visualize and realize the clients vision, and at the same time mix a little bit of theirs as well to the degree it makes sense. This kind of arrogant attitude nearly destroyed this profession in the late 80's and 90's when postmodern design ideas were at their peak. Architects were no longer being taken seriously and were all arrogant jerks. Now postmodernism wants another crack at my profession, but from the business end. It can go shove it.

 

The president is the client and whatever the client wants is the whatever the client gets. End of story. When you extend it further the president is only there because of the voters which means that it makes The People the client as well. Some unelected architect is not supposed to be the arbiter of what things look like.

 

There is so much more I can go into. I can talk about this for hours as I've had a lot of deep philosophical discussions in my mind about this over the past couple years, but I'm going to cut off my rant for now. I've come to really hate these idiots because they actually make have to defend this guy, a guy I didn't even vote for.

 

This is a great post. I think when Goldberger said that this wasn't "fully compatible with 21st century liberal democracy," he meant the process of deciding what style of building to build (by fiat), rather than the style itself. The problem though is that the design of federal buildings has long been taken over by architectural elites who build in styles that do not resemble what the average Joe or Jane wants in his or her federal building. The American public generally has a positive view of classical as well as other traditional styles of architecture, while most of the architecture profession views these styles with contempt. So the only way to restore federal architecture to what people want is to have a political strongman take over the design process.

 

I am concerned whether quality classical architecture can be built on the government's typically low cost budget now that skills like stone carving have become rare and expensive, but that is something that other people can probably comment on more knowledgeably.

 

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9 hours ago, H-Town Man said:

 

This is a great post. I think when Goldberger said that this wasn't "fully compatible with 21st century liberal democracy," he meant the process of deciding what style of building to build (by fiat), rather than the style itself. The problem though is that the design of federal buildings has long been taken over by architectural elites who build in styles that do not resemble what the average Joe or Jane wants in his or her federal building. The American public generally has a positive view of classical as well as other traditional styles of architecture, while most of the architecture profession views these styles with contempt. So the only way to restore federal architecture to what people want is to have a political strongman take over the design process.

 

I am concerned whether quality classical architecture can be built on the government's typically low cost budget now that skills like stone carving have become rare and expensive, but that is something that other people can probably comment on more knowledgeably.

 

 

To be clear, I dont think many architects view those styles with "contempt" and in my opinion its mistaken to state that. The reason "classical" buildings arent built anymore is because thats what owners fundamentally demand. Picking specifically on offices. Many owners and tenants wanted offices with a floor to ceiling windows, maximizing natural light. What does that mean: Glass Curtain walls! 

As for making buildings look older, generally I see this at the University level. Buildings on campus will typically have architectural guidelines. Many Larger universities employ a university architect to make sure whatever building is being constructed will comply with the standards. I actually do not know how new construction federal buildings deal with architecture, I do know there are building code differences from the structural side of things. 

 

Historically, I have worked on two very old (former) federal buildings, both of which are by this guy: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Knox_Taylor - I particularily like that he signed both the Architectural and Structural Drawings for my project (1912)

image.png.b90abb0919aee39d0518252b7e855b63.png

Back in 1900's, he was basically the architecture dude of the Federal Government. There used to be an office that handled Federal Building Architecture: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Office_of_the_Supervising_Architect_for_the_U.S._Treasury
I believe it was cut short due to WWII and ongoing tensions with with private architecture firms and accusations of improper bid awards. After the war, I'm sure the anti-communist fever of centralized buildings helped impede its return. 

My personal opinion, given the presidents ongoing business connections to architecture and construction firms related to his real estate empire, I'm a uncomfortable with the president diving into another industry wherein he stands to benefit financially from. Feel free to call me "elitist", I also find The Presidents 'tastes' to be tacky, at least architecturally speaking. 

 

While I do like older style buildings, I think it wouldnt hurt to let each state nominate or appoint an architect to come up with standards for local jurisdictions. Like I said before, federal building standards already exist, I dont think it would be a significant jump to put in appearance standards. 

Finally, touching on craft/skilled labor. This is anecdotal, but the two buildings I worked on, while they had ornate components: could easily be replicated today.  Unrelated, Ive had a few older buildings with decorative Terra-cotta that needed to be replaced and that had to be specialty ordered from one of the few remaining companies that fabricates them. Why isnt terra-cotta used on buildings anymore? Its heavy as hell, more susceptible to weathering and deterioration. Finally, to create ornate elements: Super expensive... Which as far as taxpayer money goes... a lot of people will raise hell about. 



 

Edited by Purdueenginerd
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19 hours ago, Purdueenginerd said:

 

To be clear, I dont think many architects view those styles with "contempt" and in my opinion its mistaken to state that. The reason "classical" buildings arent built anymore is because thats what owners fundamentally demand. Picking specifically on offices. Many owners and tenants wanted offices with a floor to ceiling windows, maximizing natural light. What does that mean: Glass Curtain walls! 

As for making buildings look older, generally I see this at the University level. Buildings on campus will typically have architectural guidelines. Many Larger universities employ a university architect to make sure whatever building is being constructed will comply with the standards. I actually do not know how new construction federal buildings deal with architecture, I do know there are building code differences from the structural side of things. 

 

Historically, I have worked on two very old (former) federal buildings, both of which are by this guy: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Knox_Taylor - I particularily like that he signed both the Architectural and Structural Drawings for my project (1912)

image.png.b90abb0919aee39d0518252b7e855b63.png

Back in 1900's, he was basically the architecture dude of the Federal Government. There used to be an office that handled Federal Building Architecture: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Office_of_the_Supervising_Architect_for_the_U.S._Treasury
I believe it was cut short due to WWII and ongoing tensions with with private architecture firms and accusations of improper bid awards. After the war, I'm sure the anti-communist fever of centralized buildings helped impede its return. 

My personal opinion, given the presidents ongoing business connections to architecture and construction firms related to his real estate empire, I'm a uncomfortable with the president diving into another industry wherein he stands to benefit financially from. Feel free to call me "elitist", I also find The Presidents 'tastes' to be tacky, at least architecturally speaking. 

 

While I do like older style buildings, I think it wouldnt hurt to let each state nominate or appoint an architect to come up with standards for local jurisdictions. Like I said before, federal building standards already exist, I dont think it would be a significant jump to put in appearance standards. 

Finally, touching on craft/skilled labor. This is anecdotal, but the two buildings I worked on, while they had ornate components: could easily be replicated today.  Unrelated, Ive had a few older buildings with decorative Terra-cotta that needed to be replaced and that had to be specialty ordered from one of the few remaining companies that fabricates them. Why isnt terra-cotta used on buildings anymore? Its heavy as hell, more susceptible to weathering and deterioration. Finally, to create ornate elements: Super expensive... Which as far as taxpayer money goes... a lot of people will raise hell about. 
 

 

Well, I think the entire modernist movement and the various movements that have spawned from it have viewed classical architecture with contempt, since classical architecture has ornament and the form supposedly doesn't follow the function. Go to an architecture school and ask the students what they think of classical architecture. Most will laugh. As to using ornate elements, you seem to be saying two things. You say that ornate components "could easily be replicated today," and then you say that ornate elements are "super expensive," basically echoing my point. So I'm not sure what it means to say something is easy if it's super expensive. That's basically what ease comes down to... cost. 

 

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I think architecture schools, with the notable except of Notre Dame, view classical architecture with contempt because it has rules and standards.  Architects want maximum freedom to design whatever they want in order to put their personal imprint on the project.  These schools see classical architecture not as a timeless classic but as obsolete.  The American public, however, continues to admire classical buildings.  There is a disconnect between what the architecture profession in 2020 likes and what Americans like.

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