Dezeen Magazine

The White House

Biden revokes Trump's "beautiful" architecture executive order

US president Joe Biden has officially undone Donald Trump's executive order requiring new federal buildings to be built in the classical style, 69 days after it was signed.

Biden announced a batch of revocations on 24 February 2021 including executive order 13967, titled Promoting Beautiful Federal Civic Architecture.

The controversial order requiring all new government buildings to be "beautiful" and ideally built in a "traditional" style was signed on 18 December 2020 by the outgoing president after he lost the election.

Biden returns "freedom of design choice"

"By overturning this order, the Biden administration has restored communities with the freedom of design choice that is essential to designing federal buildings that best serve the public," said American Institute of Architects (AIA) president Peter Exley.

"This is fundamental to an architect's process and to achieving the highest quality buildings possible. We look forward to continuing to work with the administration towards developing policies that create healthy, just and equitable communities."

The AIA rallied against the order when a draft was leaked in February 2020, organising an open letter condemning the government for attempting to restrict architects.

In its earlier iterations, the executive order threatened to ban certain styles of architecture such as brutalism entirely.

The final order stopped short of forbidding any architectural styles outright but still complained against the "architectural elite" for imposing "ugly" buildings on Americans.

Trump supporters blame dead architect for riot

Although Trump's now-defunct executive order lauded the historic architecture of the Capitol building, his supporters invaded the seat of US democracy following the election.

Pro-Trump news organisation One America Network claimed it was a long-dead architect, not Trump, who was to blame for inciting the riot.

"It was, in fact, Pierre L'Enfant, the architect of Washington, DC, around 200 years prior to the event of January 6, who designed the city to ensure that all roads led to to the beacon of democracy he placed at the centre of the city — Capitol Hill," said OAN.

Including the architecture order, Biden revoked five executive orders made by Trump and two memorandums, including a memo forbidding "anarchist jurisdictions" such as Portland where protesters demonstrated after the death of George Floyd from accessing coronavirus grant money.

Since elected Biden has rebranded the White House's official communications with a new "architectural" logo depicting the White House designed by creative agency Wide Eye.