Washington D.C. is a beautiful city. Its streets are lined not only with history, but with buildings that reflect the grandeur of the nation’s capital. President Donald Trump wants to keep it that way with his plan to “make federal buildings beautiful again,” which would mandate that any new federal buildings be built in a “classical architectural style.”
According to the draft, the Trump Administration argues that America’s founders “embraced the classical models of ‘democratic Athens’ and ‘republican Rome’ …because the style symbolized the new nation’s ‘self-governing ideals.’”
Perhaps it’s just my personal love of history and classical art and architecture, but I think that this is a fantastic idea.
Having been to both Rome and Athens, it is incredible to see how ancient monuments like the Parthenon and the Pantheon have stood the test of time and remain powerful symbols of our shared Western heritage. It’s also interesting to see how the past interacts with the present. An example of this would be the Roman Colosseum, which backs right up to an incredibly busy road, mixing the modern with the ancient in an incredible way.
While some may argue that utilizing modern architecture features is just a reflection of the times, but there is something about having a building with classical architecture that sends a strong message. By comparison, a modern building can seem flashy, contrived or, sometimes, just plain weird.
An example would be the federal building in San Francisco. It just isn’t the most aesthetically pleasing, nor is it in fact very functional. According to reports, the architects’ desire to eliminate costs resulted in a modern building with no HVAC and an eyesore of a canopy that’s meant to keep the sun out and the heat down, but in reality really doesn’t work. However, it is aligned with the Leftist policies of the city. The building is energy efficient and has a built-in exercise system for its tenants. It does this by requiring them to, begrudgingly, use the stairs often as elevators only go up three floors at a time and it also put the cafeteria outside the building to force the 2,400 tenants to get a workout as they attempt to get their lunch.
The other buildings mentioned in the report include the U.S. Courthouse in Austin, Texas and the Wilkie D. Ferguson, Jr. U.S. Courthouse in Miami. While both buildings aren’t terrible to look at, but they do leave something to be desired.
It’s like modern art. Personally, I don’t care for really any artwork produced after 1900. (Paint splatter is not art, and there’s an entire Prager U video that backs up my supposition.) Compare modern art, which can be something as ridiculous as a golden toilet or a banana duct taped to a wall (it sold for $120,000), to Leonardo da Vinci’s paintings or Michelangelo’s sculptures, and it falls short, immeasurably short in terms of technique, skill, vision and design.
Modern architecture can be similar. In order to try and create the newest and most unique building, oftentimes the end result is incredibly bizarre. That’s why ‘make federal buildings beautiful again’ is a brilliant idea. America’s founders were onto something when they took inspiration from our Greek and Roman ancestors for both our federal buildings and the Constitution.
Let’s create more buildings inspired by the Pantheon and not by the San Francisco Federal Building.
You can follow Brittany on Twitter @brittanyraymer
Photo by Caleb Fisher