Federal Office Design
Today, I am pleased to report that the Biden Administration has revoked the design directive contained in last year’s Executive Order 13967 of Dec.18, 2020: “Promoting Beautiful Federal Civic Architecture.”
Slightly over one year ago, AIA was made aware of a draft presidential executive order that would officially designate “classical” architecture as the preferred style for federal courthouses, all federal public buildings in the Capital region, and all other federal public buildings with a cost exceeding $50 million. Since then, AIA has worked to stop this executive order in the name of design choice freedom.
In February of 2020, AIA members like you sent more than 11,400 emails to the White House expressing opposition to this initiative. Additionally, AIA leadership issued letters on Feb. 6 and Feb. 20 opposing the action, and AIA Knowledge Communities and components mobilized to forcefully and unequivocally oppose this top-down directive on architectural style.
In December 2020, former President Trump signed the executive order allowing government agencies to mandate an architectural style preference for federal courthouses and other federal buildings. It also promoted “classical” and “traditional” architecture above other designs, and required extensive justification to use other styles.
I also want to be clear that AIA does not endorse or oppose any specific design style. In fact, we want to preserve the rights of architects and communities to make decisions that are best for them.
AIA also continues to advocate for the Democracy in Design Act, which was introduced by Rep. Dina Titus (D-Nev.) on July 13, 2020. The bill would have effectively thwarted the Executive Order by codifying General Service Administration (GSA) Design Excellence Program principles into statute and ensuring the federal government maintains neutrality on architectural styles. AIA continues to work on this legislation to ensure that future administrations will not mandate stylistic choices that are best made by those directly impacted by them.
We look forward to working with the Biden Administration and Congress to develop policies that create healthy, just, and equitable communities and ensure design choice.
But for now, let me just say “Thank you!” Your dedication, hard work, and perseverance have paid off.
Chris d Craiker AIA/NCARB