What's a liberal hater of modernism to do? I finally have a friend in the White House, and it's Donald J. Trump?
He would demand that the buildings be designed in architectural styles of centuries past, extending his reactionary instincts to the very brick and mortar of government. . . . A state-mandated architectural style that retreats so resolutely into the past is an implicit negation of the best of American and world culture over the last few hundred years. It is also the stuff of authoritarian regimes, which always distrust the new and unexpected. . . . The fear of an open society is palpable.Authoritarian, my foot. Plenty of dictators have loved modernism, starting with Stalin. And the point here is not authoritarianism but democracy. It's the architects and the critics who are afraid of an open society, because they want to keep building things that everybody else hates.
Roger Lewis, a professor who has written about building in Washington, doesn't like Trump's order:
At the most fundamental level it’s a complete constraint on freedom of expression.But public architecture is a very different kind of art than painting or music. Nobody has to experience those. Public architecture touches everyone who walks by. I see nothing wrong with giving the people a say in what public buildings look like. Insistence that architects be able to design what they want is elitism, plain and simple.
Marion Smith, who would head to new commission, wrote:
For too long architectural elites and bureaucrats have derided the idea of beauty, blatantly ignored public opinions on style, and have quietly spent taxpayer money constructing ugly, expensive, and inefficient buildings. This executive order gives voice to the 99 percent — the ordinary American people who do not like what our government has been building.Amen to that.
When architects stop foisting ghastly modernism on us, I will think about standing up for their free expression. But they insist on assaulting my world with concrete ugliness, and I will fight that however I can, even if it means praising the president.