A proposed executive measure could require that all federal buildings be built akin to those of ancient Greece and Rome. Classicists believe it

When news broke of an executive order calling for new or renovated United States federal buildings to bear a classical style, you might have thought traditional architects would be over the moon.

Well, they weren’t. The preliminary draft of “Making Federal Buildings Beautiful Again” seeks to abolish the U.S. General Services Administration’s peer-reviewed Design Excellence Program by imposing a homogenous civic architecture rooted in the forms of Ancient Greece and Rome. It is not the first attempt to bring more classicism into the mix of courthouses and government office buildings (there was a push during the George W. Bush administration too). And it has drawn near-universal condemnation from architectural groups, not least the Institute of Classical Architecture and Art (ICAA).

Last week, the 2,431-member organization, whose ranks are made up of both individuals and firms, declared its opposition to “any government-mandated ‘style’ for federal buildings and any dictate that narrows public discourse in the design of civic architecture.”

Classical architecture, the statement clarified, “is not a style, but is a humanistic approach to making buildings and civic spaces.”