Archive for February 2020

Not Just Hitler and Mussolini: Neo-Nazis Love Neoclassical Architecture too

On February 4th, 2020 Architectural Record reported on a leaked draft executive order from the Trump administration entitled “Making Federal Buildings Beautiful Again” that would require that “the classical architectural style shall be the preferred and default style” for future federal buildings. The American Institute of Architects immediately stated their opposition to the order, arguing that “architecture should be designed for the specific communities that it serves, reflecting our rich nation’s diverse places, thought, culture and climates.” They were followed by several other professional associations, including the Society for Classical Studies (attaching themselves to an existing statement from the Society for Architectural Historians) and The Archaeological Institute of America, which in addition to opposing the order noted that the very idea of a uniform “Classical” style of architecture misrepresents the variety of styles used in the Classical period. This condemnation of the totalitarian nature of the order was matched in the press with many articles describing a similar compulsory preference for Classical architecture under the Nazis in Germany or Fascists in Italy. The resonance of this proposed executive order with past white supremacist regimes is indeed disturbing, but it risks locating hateful admiration for Classical architecture in the past when in fact the nexus between it and racist politics is alive and well, as Pharos‘ survey of mentions of it on some of the major sites we document shows.

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