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Saturday, February 08, 2020

Architectural Diversity

Remember Obama's "mud hut diplomacy" in which he contended that having visited relatives in Kenya was more important than knowing world leaders? Liberals now are pushing mud hut architecture.

The New York Times reported, "MAGA War on Architectural Diversity Weaponizes Greek Columns." Ordinarily I do not give pay sites a link, but this is too deliciously bad not to share.

The Times said, "The National Museum of African American History and Culture is the most successful new public building in Washington."

It looks like a wooden palace from the Mali Empire.

In Highlights of the News in Thursday, I included an item from the Architectural Record, which reported, "Record has obtained what appears to be a preliminary draft of the order, under which the White House would require rewriting the Guiding Principles for Federal Architecture, issued in 1962, to ensure that 'the classical architectural style shall be the preferred and default style' for new and upgraded federal buildings. Entitled Making Federal Buildings Beautiful Again, the draft order argues that the founding fathers embraced the classical models of 'democratic Athens' and 'republican Rome' for the capital’s early buildings because the style symbolized the new nation’s 'self-governing ideals' (never mind, of course, that it was the prevailing style of the day)."

Assuming this is true, I see the problem. It isn't the architect, it is the idea. President Donald John Trump and most Americans support self-governance. The fascists on the left want Stalinist designs that promote socialism.

The American Institute of Architects immediately opposed pushing American ideals in designing American government buildings. It issued a communique that said, "The AIA strongly opposes uniform style mandates for federal architecture. Architecture should be designed for the specific communities that it serves, reflecting our rich nation’s diverse places, thought, culture and climates. Architects are committed to honoring our past as well as reflecting our future progress, protecting the freedom of thought and expression that are essential to democracy."

Michael Kimmelman, the architecture critic of the Times, also opposes the change. He used as an example of good architectural design the United States Courthouse in Salt Lake City, designed by Thomas Phifer.

Boxes have more charm. It is about as elegant as a platypus ice skating.

Kimmelman wrote, "Who knows what classicism ultimately means, but the draft order makes it come across as awfully prim and petty. No matter how much its supporters say that enforcement wouldn’t be dogmatic, the order provokes inevitable allusions to authoritarian regimes of the past that imposed their own architectural marching orders, and dredges up images of antebellum America, when classicizing, Federal architecture was all the rage. Associations like these might sound extreme; but then, so does the order.

"Just to have this argument feels demeaning, like so much else about American public discourse today."

End of discussion, comrade. Da.

The best symbol of the American Republic is the Capitol itself.

That explains what they mean by Architectural Diversity. They want to depress us with ugly buildings that erase the self-governance on which this great land was founded. People who consider Make America Great Again a pejorative should go live where they would be happier. I suggest Pyongyang.


  1. The Art in Architecture program needs a re-look, too.
    "GSA reserves one-half of one percent of the estimated construction cost of each new federal building to commission project artists.'

  2. I haven’t seen Clockwork in a while (which Mad magazine hilariously called A Crockwork Lemon) but the buildings you showed reminded me of that movie. Architecture that assaults the eye with its cold hulking deathness. Another win for the Black Jesus.

  3. I saw the mud hut on the mall.
    It reminded me of a stack of chinese take out boxes.

  4. If you want to see diverse architecture, let it be in the Embassies. The best I've seen is Berlin - great and diverse architecture from around the world on display there. But as to spending my tax $ on US federal buildings, I don't want to pay for some 'progressive' architect designing 'his(er) statement' on my (now non-silver) dime - and something any for-profit company would throwup over moving into themselves. Keep it in the style that Jefferson and Washington laid out - classical greek, but it should not be $100,000/sf either.

    I know with the new LEED environmental standards, the cost of any federal project, including Army bases, costs 10x more than anything in the private sector. The new additions to El Paso Ft Bliss were MASSIVELY expensive due to this, but since it is 'government money' no one cared...

  5. Egad! Those two examples above are terrible! One might even say they are eyesores. What's wrong with the far more elegant marble architecture of Greece?

  6. I believe someone lifted the design from the superstructure of the proposed new PRNK nuke carrier that is being proposed for L'il Kim's navy.

  7. Pyongyang? Has lil Kim got enough rounds for his ADA guns?

  8. Hey, isn't that building the vehicle the Jawas drove around Tatooine, in the first Star Wars movie?! ZB

  9. We're in the Twenties again. Bring back Art Deco.

  10. Don, for once you've just got it wrong.
    I hope you can accept this in good grace. It's really a very beautiful, elegant, delicately state-of-the-architectural-art Borg Cube.

  11. I have no use for architecture that leaves one guessing what the function of the building is, where the building is situated. For example one understands immediately when one is in Tokyo or Paris, Budapest due to its buildings. On the other hand, some of the worst architecture I have seen is in NYC, Moscow, London, Mexico City. Buildings that could be anywhere, boxes of steel and glass, featureless, pizza boxes stacked on each other.

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