“Making Federal Buildings Beautiful Again”

The key word in that guideline is “humanistic.”

According to news reports about the proposed rule, these architectural elites are furious. Fine. That’s a sure sign the administration is on the right track. Most Americans may not have gone to prestigious design schools or worked at the hippest firms. On the other hand, we know ugly when we see it.

36 Replies to ““Making Federal Buildings Beautiful Again””

  1. News Alert Niagara

    The Failure of Facebook

    If Facebook is a business that serves the public then what right does Facebook have to deny service to anyone without articulating a reason for the denial? Facebook has censored countless Citizens over specious ‘Community Standards!

    Certainly making a spurious claim of contravention of Facebook’s ‘Community Standards’ flies in the face of community standards.

    Anyone outside of Niagara Region will not understand why more and more Persons are considering the Plan of Alberta; Saskatchewan; and Northern Ontario to finally create a Safe Place for English Language Culture with A New definition of Canada with A Straight Forward — non solipsism*– attitude of the French Language Culture in the present Capital of HULL/Ottawa control of the Bureacracy Privy Council Office under direction of the Laurentien Elite.
    [*Wipedia ___ solipsism | ˈsɒlɪpsɪz(ə)m |
    noun [mass noun]
    the view or theory that the self is all that can be known to exist.
    • the quality of being self-centred or selfish]

  2. I’m not in favor of exaltation or “triumphant” ode to government even in our architecture.
    I’m thinking old school buildings with portatables is just fine.

    1. Clearly you have never been forced to spend hours in a mildewed, decaying, freezing portable, Bricks and mortar has the lowest total cost over the long run, anyway.

  3. Thank you President Trump. This is like 40 years overdue. And you can begin by taking a wrecking ball to that brutalist monstrosity on Pennsy Ave – the friggin FBI. Its demo would be symbolic in more ways than one – if you catch my drift.

    From Bauhaus to Our House. Tom Wolfe. Great read.

  4. Well, as bad as brutalism is, modern stuff isn’t all great, either.

    I used to work (as a clerk) for a bunch of “old white men”: architects and engineers.

    Their job was to approve plans for hospitals. My job was to re-write their memos into not only proper English, but terms that wouldn’t get us all fired.

    Sorta turning “what the %#$@%# are they going to do, dig up the ^$#^#$ parking lot every year to inspect the gas lines?” to “we recommend the following changes to Plan 56.7.8.a…”

    You don’t want to know their opinions of 8 story atria…

  5. Fancy architecture. Only if it takes funds away from the US EPA and Environment and Tossing Virgins into Volcanoes Canada. If not, then no.

  6. An end to Soviet Style Brutalist Architecture? It would take decades to replace all that old crap.

    1. Nothing is seen to discredit the entire project of building a non-capitalist collective society more than those featureless monoliths stretching for miles in every direction, and their contrast with the irregular and picturesque centres bequeathed by feudal burghers or the grand classical prospects of the bourgeois city.
      This, it is implied, is what people were fleeing from when they pulled down the Berlin Wall.
      Landscapes of Communism


  7. Beautifully written by Sen. Lee — a great antidote to his colleague from Utah (the soon to replaced and never to be remembered) Sen. Romney (who has a long history in SW Ontario @ Grand Bend ON, actually).

    The Borg (Star Trek: The Second Generation) was never my style, to be honest.

    The President knows full well that the World Trade Centres (WTC) in NYC made an easy target: I well remember Golf Channel’s David Feherty’s interview with Mr. Trump in the mid-10s, shortly before Mr. Trump got into the GOP race, on Mr. Trump’s investments in golf resorts in Scotland, where his mother was born: “I have friends who still won’t get on an aircraft [or words to that effect].” I can’t think of a more authentic statement I have ever heard from a (now) politician.

    The problem for me, in this regard, is that I got to take a class trip to NYC in 1983, and I was standing on the lower observation deck of The Empire State Building, looking south at the WTC, and it amazed me that aircraft were flying in my line of sight — and lower — on their final approaches to JFK or La Guardia.

    We used to do the same thing Sen. Lee is recommending in Canada: sign it, Mr. President, quickly.

    1. I love how salty you all are over Romney. Even if he loses re-election (unlikely), he’ll live forever.

      1. Fair comment: I’m not so mad at Romney that I can’t get over it. In fact, I know a childhood friend of the Senator — I won’t mention her name, but I see her every week, and she is an absolute pillar of the community over there @ Grand Bend ON.

        Plus, I thought that the President needlessly cheapened himself on Thursday — it was embarrassing, actually.

        I always read what you write.

    2. Unfortunately, Romney is not up for reelection until 2024, and in Utah, as long as he has an (R) next to his name, he can win reelection without even trying. He’ll either have to be primaried or retire, and Senators seem increasingly prone to staying in office until they croak rather than retire.

      Why Utah ever nominated that carpet bagger for that Senate seat is beyond me.

  8. well there can’t be nicer looking buildings than Soviet ’60’s .. that would be Sovietphobic..

  9. The models of those buildings were temples to the various false gods of the Greeks and Romans. They were only white due to centuries of neglect. Originally they were gaudily painted, along with the idol at the centre of each one. And each one a monument to the arrogance and vanity of the rich patron who financed its construction.

    DC itself was a fever dream of Thomas Jefferson, who jumped at the chance to build a “rational” city adhering to the principles of his beloved French Revolution, which no rational person would live in given any choice.

    If you had wanted to build a monument to human liberty under a Law from which no man was exempt, you would have modelled it after the Temple in Jerusalem—or you would have, had those blessed Romans not destroyed it centuries ago, leaving only the Western Wall, and the Muslims not built a mosque on the grounds.

    The Senator from Utah fancies himself Christian. His belief that public buildings built in imitation of pagan temples is based on ignorance and nothing more. The hideousness of modern “machines for working in” is a real problem. This is not a solution.

  10. Well “beauty ” is in the eye of the beholder.
    In my sarcastic opinion all Canadian Government offices should be at least 300ft underground, preferably on flood plains.
    But any old mine site will do.
    For the “environment” don’t you know?
    But when you look at the overpriced useless structures built at our expense,this executive order has a certain charm to it.

  11. They serve only architects’ ego, spurred by an adolescent desire to shock and discomfit and to impose their values on the taxpayers …

    As one who can speak with some authority on the topic … truer words have never been spoken. Emphasis on the “adolescent desire to shock”. Personally … I don’t like Trump’s edict that all buildings should be classical derivative architecture. That’s boring and redundant. I personally enjoy ALL styles of architecture. However! When looking at these examples of “hideous” Architecture … what they lack are the simple and (what should be) obvious connection to the people who use them. They lack obvious “entrances” and a sense of public “invitation”. They do a poor job of “addressing the street”. One can do contemporary architecture that relates to the people. Sadly … many examples of FAILED contemporary design. And yes, it is due to a lack of empathy for the end users.

    Tucker hurled disdain at Frank Gehry in his diatribe tonight. Sorry Tucker … Gehry is a GENIUS. And … Gehry KNOWS how buildings work … knows how PEOPLE use buildings. The Disney Concert Hall Gehry designed in LA is a beautifully functional and exciting MASTERPIECE. The band shell in Chicago is gorgeous (and functional). Etc. etc.

    But that monstrosity of a Federal building in SF … OMG. It’s a “green” “Leed Platinum” abortion. Just a bunch of random metal scrim appliqué to a boring box of a building. And don’t get me started on Starchitects like Renzo Piano. Gawwwd … he took a GORGEOUS classically designed Museum of Natural Sciences in Golden Gate Park and turned it into one of his bland overscaled peristyle fronted “green” platforms. Gawwd it’s ugly … and dysfunctional.

  12. I submit this for your viewing:
    Habitat 67, in the city of Montreal was a radical experiment in prefabricated, stacked city dwelling. It is the city’s most iconic built legacy from that heady time.


    Moshe Safdie designed Habitat for his thesis as an architectural student in Montreal at McGill University. The above (Wikipedia) piece describes certain details about the place that one might appreciate.

    Having seen Moshe Safdie in a televised interview about the building I recall that he said his creation was loved by many and described as a gem of a building. In the piece he admitted that he broke all the rules about its structure: He owned up to the fact that the various apartments had “no ventilation.” There might’ve been other violated code rules but none that he would admit to in that particular interview.

    In 1967 I had visited Habitat 67 and I was quite impressed by it. Each apartment had a modern floor plan and could be considered timeless in that they offered an open concept and fairly spacious rooms within each unit. The location is excellent with access to amenities, and access to the city’s subway system.

    It’s best feature though is the view of Montreal. It is breathtaking. Situated on the south shore of the Saint Lawrence River, one could see the Expo 67 Exposition site, the downtown buildings and beyond that, the mountain in the city known as Mount Royal. Sitting on the top of the mountain is a gigantic cross that lights up at dusk and can be seen from miles away. Thus the view from Habitat is one of the most romantic spots of Montreal.

    Additionally here is a Globe and Mail piece about this iconic place:


    1. Wow, you and Kenji leave me in the dust on architecture, a subject I know very little about.
      My feeling is that I agree with Kenji, and you should not mandate just one style of architecture. Rather you should mandate certain features, such as openness as Kenji said, accessibility, and functionality. After all, their major purpose is supposedly to serve the people.
      All I know is Howard Roark hated neo-classical style, and any other derivative style. OTOH, I don’t know if Trump would have hired Roark to design his buildings either.

      1. Yes, the cities always allocate towards where they can get the most tax dollars ie: “the highest and best use.”

        Check information on an iconic building built in the “International” style.

        This is the first building in Montreal to top the $1 billion mark in assessment value for tax purposes as of 2019:


        If one were to glance at the downtown buildings, this one always pops out because of its cruciform construction. It is well known and much visited because there is an observation gallery and restaurant at the top. It’s sort of a mini Empire State Building.

        From the web:

        Place Ville Marie is a large office and shopping complex in downtown Montreal, Quebec, Canada, comprising four office buildings and an underground shopping plaza. The main building, 1 Place Ville Marie, built in the International style in 1962 as headquarters for the Royal Bank of Canada, which it still is presently. Wikipedia

        Construction started: 1958

        Architect: I.M. Pei & Partners; Dimitri Dimakopoulos

        Floor count: 47

        Owner: Ivanhoé Cambridge

        Architectural style: International Style

        Developer: William Zeckendorf

    2. Stuff built for EXPO 67 were “temporary”. It amazes me that Habitat has survived this long. I wasn’t impressed by Habitat’s “style”. Like living in a cement Saltine cracker box, stacked upon each other. The St Lawrence River stinks in summer when the stench from Molson’s Brewery lifts. I agree it has a nice view, but Nun’s Island is better without the stink and dodging freight trains shunted along the docks of Montreal. I used to dock and “tie up” for winter down there, right across from Habitat, at the bottom of McGill and hike up the road to Victoria Square to take the METRO home.

      1. Yeah, well it’s an old old city, …. from the web:

        “Montreal (sometimes also called Ville-Marie) was founded in 1642 as a missionary colony under the direction of Paul de Chomedey de Maisonneuve and Jeanne Mance, but the fur trade soon became its main activity.”

        The buildings @ Expo 67 will disappear due to very harsh winters. (They just got snowed in to the tune of 40cm, did you see that? Ha!)  Likely the city’s legacy costs are more important rather than maintaining buildings in the middle of the River — no one goes there now. (Chinatown now has overflowed into the ‘burb of Brossard)

        That said, the former American Pavilion, a plexiglass sphere burnt to the ground in 20 minutes. So you’re right. It’s gone bye- bye, see photo:

        The former U.S. Pavilion at Expo 67, designed by architect… News Photo – Getty Images

        1. “They just got snowed in to the tune of 40cm, did you see that? Ha!”
          Yes. I’ve got photos of snow on my street in NDG, with snow up to 2nd floor “balcon” from the mid 60’s. Montreal had “winter” back then. I used to dig “street igloos” as contemporary, “temporary snow structures”. Gotta stick with the topic at hand. LOL.

          1. *☆ I too like buildings from my imaginary Winter Palace having been born in Montreal’s Côte des Neiges, which literally translates into English as Snow Hill.

            ☆° *☆*My dream used to be called Snowhenge….
            °☆*There were snowburbs in this imaginal city, including igloo construction, ice sculptures. and automated snowball throwers.


            NDG was so close to Côte des Neiges that I could hit little boys from my hill with my snowball thrower!
            Ha! Gotcha!

      2. My gawd! Can you stll say “Nun’s Island?” I thought that was banished for the more pleasant “Ile des Seours”

        1. The language police would fine him if he were in Qbec! OTOH…
          “Ici Radio Canada, la régie la langue française will prosecute you if you spell “Soeur”…incorrectly…”

      3. And let me add … impractically expensive. Why don’t developers build “deconstructed” housing boxes jumbled about ? It’s incredibly expensive and inefficient. But for an “Expo”? Sure … what budget?

        Oh and about as un-Green as imaginable … massive surface area to lose heat. Stupid … but fun to look at.

  13. The key word in that guideline is “humanistic”.

    One of my guidelines is never to trust anybody who uses the word “humanistic” or the word “holistic”. Or perhaps
    that’s two guidelines.

  14. So glad that we’ve solved the massive federal deficit, debt, out of control spending as well as various civil liberties problems.