Ignore the critics: President Trump’s federal architecture executive order is a great step toward restoring beauty in government buildings.

There is a barrage of criticism flooding newspapers about President Trump’s executive order on federal architecture, mostly from architectural critics and people in the architectural profession. Remember, as you read this criticism, that the client in federal architecture is “we the people,” not architectural critics or the architectural profession. This is an important distinction. Architects love the idea that they could somehow be the acting body of the people. After all, they are the experts right? And there it begins.

Architects today, unlike at other points in history, are trained to espouse a quality of self-expression and originality in their work. They rejoice in the opportunity to decree in our federal architecture their own expression of what our country is and what it could be. This “freedom of expression” is something the critic will say is greatly at stake right now. But what about the rest of us? Do we have a say? We didn’t elect these people. Is there a collective sense that we like what they’ve designed?

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