WTTW – “Draft Executive Order Would Make ‘Federal Buildings Beautiful Again'”
“Under a proposed Trump administration executive order, buildings like the Federal Center (in Chicago) – and other government projects designed in a modern style – could have a hard time getting built. Called ‘Making Federal Buildings Beautiful Again,’ the draft executive order would force the federal government to prioritize classical architecture – picture the U.S Capitol or the White House – for future federal courthouses and buildings that cost over $50 million.
‘Federal architecture should once again inspire respect instead of bewilderment or repugnance,’ the order reads. ‘Classical and traditional architecture styles have proven their ability to inspire such respect for our system of self‐government. Their use should be encouraged.’ Advocates say the proposal would prevent the construction of public buildings they call ugly, while inspiring a new respect for American democracy…
Carol “…was the first woman to be commissioned to design a federal building – the modernist replacement to the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City after it was bombed in 1995.
‘Federal courthouses and federal buildings are immensely complex. The level of security and the level of protection that you have to provide … the truth of the matter is that the Parthenon just wouldn’t do it,’ she said.
Chicago has a long history with classical architecture, including the structures of the 1893 World’s Fair, and Daniel Burnham’s mostly unrealized but influential 1909 Plan of Chicago.
“Federal courthouses and federal buildings are immensely complex… the truth of the matter is that the Parthenon just wouldn’t do it”Carol Ross Barney, Design Principal and Founder
Many notable civic examples are still in use today, like City Hall, the Cultural Center and a newer addition: the Harold Washington Library. Even the site of the current Federal Center, in all its sleek modernity, has classical roots. It was once occupied by the mammoth Chicago Federal Building, a Beaux Arts structure that took up an entire city block.
Ross Barney is complimentary of the building, but says ultimately – like the proposed executive order – it just wasn’t the right fit for the city. ‘It didn’t have a sense of equity or openness that is expressed by the current courthouse,’ she said. ‘For one thing, it didn’t have the place for people to gather and protest that this one does – and I just think that that courthouse is so much more appropriate as an expression of Chicago.’
Check out the interview with Carol and read more at news.wttw.com.