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Executive Order for Classical Architecture

  • 1.  Executive Order for Classical Architecture

    Posted 02-14-2020 20:47
    This issue transcends architecture. There are certainly seriously important architectural issues, which include sustainability, climate change, affordable housing, urbanism, to name a few. However, the most important thing is preserving the freedom to address all of these issues independently and creatively and to the best of our ability.

    The profession must maintain the ability to address a broad range of needs, programs, missions, contexts and sometimes personal artistic agendas. There are many different opinions on what constitutes good design. And, the profession has advocates for both classical and modern architecture, who disagree on what that is. The disagreement does not matter and in fact it stimulates good dialog, which advances the science and art of architecture. There are no guarantees that any particular approach or style will result in great architecture or even satisfactory architecture. Architecture, like democracy is often a messy process, but the freedom to choose how one approaches design stimulates creativity and a vitality, which is uniquely American. That freedom should be fought for tooth and nail.

    For the administration to establish or legislate a national style would be a serious loss - akin to a loss of freedom of speech or religion. It is chipping away of the freedoms we enjoy as a nation and, which already make out country great. Choosing a Classical style for Federal Architecture will not make our Country "beautiful again." On the contrary it will stifle the dialog and the creativity that already makes us great. 

    Lee Becker, FAIA

    Hartman-Cox Architects
    1074 Thomas Jefferson Street, N.W.
    Washington, D.C. 20007
    202-333-6446 o
    202-487-0536 c
    lbecker@hartmancox.com



  • 2.  RE: Executive Order for Classical Architecture

    Posted 02-17-2020 17:41
      |   view attached
    I'm attaching a pdf of the edited version of the letter I sent through the AIA portal, aimed to blunt the MAGA contingent


    PAUL ADAMSON FAIA LEED AP
    Hospitality Studio Director, TCA Architects
    Board of Directors AIA SF
    Instructor Academy of Art University




    Attachment(s)



  • 3.  RE: Executive Order for Classical Architecture

    Posted 02-22-2020 18:51
    First I want to thank all of you for your responses to my post below of a week or two ago.  I received my Fellowship in 2019 for community college master planning.  Yet I am far prouder of my career-long work in sustainability with community college buildings. Another Fellow, Edward Mazria is one of my heroes, along with Victor Olgyay, author of Design with Climate.

    With that, here are some further comments about the whole issue of architecture and sustainability:

    The US is the world's third largest country by land area. Geographically from north to south it spans a broader range of climate zones than any other nation I can think of - from the Arctic to nearly the Equator and everything in-between. Some areas have extreme humidity with low daily temperature swings; others completely the opposite.  Some are wet and cold; others wet and hot.  Some are consistently foggy; others consistently clear and hot.  And some are subject to extreme wind and flooding; others to extreme tectonic movement. 

    This is in contrast to smaller countries that developed consistent regional architecture in response to a much narrower climate range. 

    In the US, that used to be the case. One only needs to look back a little over a century to the regional styles of our buildings.  Most used a fraction of the energy we use today, yet were built without benefit of modern insulation and sealants, low-e dual glazing, mechanical ventilation, artificial lighting, central heating and refrigeration. They tended to adhere to regional styles derived mainly from the local climate and local materials. Necessity led to natural ventilation with openable windows, high ceilings, transom windows, and central light wells for daylighting and the "chimney effect". In northern climates, windows for natural light were larger than they were further south. Overhangs, cornices and awnings provided shade and weather protection.    

    We seemed to have evolved away from such regionalism, opting instead for more standardized approaches.  Take for instance office towers: Whether it be Anchorage or Honolulu, Miami, Boston, San Francisco or Phoenix, they all look fundamentally the same.  Other building types are similar as well.  

    This was all made possible through millions of cheap fossil fuel-based BTU's in the form of heating and air conditioning and artificial lighting. Sadly that has gotten us to where we are.

    How to fix it?  Climate and other physical factors, not style or "innovative" forms, should have a much greater role in determining the design of our buildings. And if properly designed for the local climate, they will minimize their energy use, The result will be buildings that look different - regionally.

    Given all that, one thing I think that needs to be changed is how we honor design excellence.  There seems to be less value placed on sustainability; our juries instead seem to look for fresh new forms and spaces.  That needs to change as well.  

    I see all of this as a wonderful challenge; one that will transform architecture as we know it.  It could return us to the forefront of the sustainability movement (we're not there now). 

    Sadly I am at the tail end of my career and may miss out on most of what is coming.  I therefore envy all of the younger folks who will be the vanguard of this movement.

    Jim

       
    On Feb 11, 2020, at 11:13 AM, Jim Spencer <trainmanjs@sbcglobal.net> wrote:

    I'm fascinated by these discussions about style. When architecture as we know it is going to have to change.  I'm referring to the effects of climate change and global warming.  And in that sense, we are as much the culprits as the Federal Judges and their misguided notions.

    Just as electric cars are turning automotive design "on its head"; climate change is going to turn architectural design on its head.  

    Think: building orientation, shading, daylighting, building integrated photovoltaics and solar, thermal mass, rainwater retention... and all the rest.  These will actually change how our buildings look and are built in the future.   

    Jim

    James G. Spencer, FAIA
    424 California Terrace
    Pasadena, CA 91105
    land (626) 793 9679
    mobile (626) 222 8009







    James G. Spencer, FAIA
    424 California Terrace
    Pasadena, CA 91105
    land (626) 793 9679
    mobile (626) 222 8009











  • 4.  RE: Executive Order for Classical Architecture

    Posted 02-24-2020 17:41
    Jim,

    Thanks for your comments.  I agree that  design which responds in a critically regional way as taught by the late great Sambo Mocbee still has a place.  The notion of "climate change" and words like sustainability have become emotional triggers on many fronts.  Maybe we need to shift the narrative toward what was once referred to as Passive Design.  (It never ceased to be a good idea, we just stopped doing it...)

    Bradley C. Touchstone, FAIA





  • 5.  RE: Executive Order for Classical Architecture

    Posted 02-24-2020 17:45
    Dear Jim
    I thank you  for you excellent essay on climate change and how if should change architecture.  I completely agree with you on all accounts.
    This makes the idea of Classical Architecture for  Federal buildings even more a terrible mistake.  Buildings along with the program and general  design must relate to climate change and by doing so might lead the US as well as the world.
    We must take action to assure this does not happen.
    Jan

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    Jan Wampler FAIA
    Jamaica Plain MA
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  • 6.  RE: Executive Order for Classical Architecture

    Posted 02-24-2020 19:22
    All:
    Attached is a link to an editorial in The Washington Post, penned by Michael Lykoudis, FAIA, dean of the School of Architecture at Notre Dame.  While my alma mater is now considered a bastion of classicism, Dean Lykoudis (who was elevated to the College of Fellows last year), provides a thoughtful response to the proposed EO.
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/02/10/i-teach-architecture-trumps-plan-federal-buildings-is-bad-idea/?fbclid=IwAR36rAyrOOXt8RUwM4ucAzRWSxS4dPZ8kqo177FsJwHYdJ9XldTxf8bgx_0#comments-wrapper

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    Edmond Gauvreau, FAIA
    Washington, DC
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  • 7.  RE: Executive Order for Classical Architecture

    Posted 02-25-2020 18:11
    Dear Sirs :
    I tried and tried to read the Washington Post text recommended by Edmond G. Gauvreau FAIA, all in vain. I just don't want to disable the adblocker in my PC and find it out of place to spend ONE dollar just to view another photo of Mr. Trump and what should be a good text on the "celebrated" executive order.  If there is another roundabout way to gain access to the Post article, I would appreciate your instructions. and i would offer my sincere thanks for it. However, if this can't be achieved just forget about it.   

    Yours,

    GERMAN TELLEZ  
    Hon.FAIA





  • 8.  RE: Executive Order for Classical Architecture

    Posted 02-24-2020 22:00
    James,
    You wrote: "One only needs to look back a little over a century to the regional styles of our buildings.  Most used a fraction of the energy we use today, yet were built without benefit of modern insulation and sealants, low-e dual glazing, mechanical ventilation, artificial lighting, central heating and refrigeration."

    My understanding is those buildings were energy hogs, as well as uncomfortable, burning heaps of wood and coal. 

    Doug Kelbaugh 







  • 9.  RE: Executive Order for Classical Architecture

    Posted 02-25-2020 01:21
    Doug, when you take away air conditioning (because there wasn't any), that leaves only heating. In my part of the world, air conditioning is the biggest BTU user.

    My real point is with abundant cheap energy, we have substituted standardized designs for our previous regional and more climate-specific designs.

    But thanks for your thoughts on this
    Jim





  • 10.  RE: Executive Order for Classical Architecture

    Posted 02-25-2020 10:27
    True, AC is becoming an even bigger environmental burden as developing countries adopt it to a massive degree.
    And there’s no doubt about having dropped regional architecture, building materials and practices.
    Remember Critical Regionalism.

    Doug




  • 11.  RE: Executive Order for Classical Architecture

    Posted 02-25-2020 17:22

    Yes indeed, and still are Doug!  Travis

     

    Travis  Price,  FAIA

    Travis  Price  Architects

    1028  33rd  St  NW  Suite 320

    Washington, DC 20007  

    202 . 965 . 7000

    www.TravisPriceArchitects.com

    www.SpiritofPlace-Design.com

     

                email red on white

     

    BEST MODERN AMERICA 2020

     






  • 12.  RE: Executive Order for Classical Architecture

    Posted 02-25-2020 17:52
    In my view, history has never been defined nor honored, by Disney copies.  History is defined by principled and well developed design changes. If this proposed copy cat approach to human recollection were to have existed in the Georgian period, there wouldn't be a Victorian, nor an Art Deco etc.
    James Hoban, the White House Architect would roll over if he was asked to not be a modernist today. Indeed his memorial at his birth site we built in Calan / Kilkenny Ireland was a modern triumph celebrating his classical triumph!  Spirit of Place, Spirit of Design | A design-build exploration program
    Spiritofplace-design remove preview
    Spirit of Place, Spirit of Design | A design-build exploration program
    Spirit of Place, Spirit of Design | A design-build exploration program
    View this on Spiritofplace-design >


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    Travis Price FAIA
    Principal
    Travis Price Architects
    Washington DC
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  • 13.  RE: Executive Order for Classical Architecture

    Posted 02-26-2020 11:53
    I thought you all might enjoy another take on GSA's proposal-a three-act play on time.
    Jefferson: the musical

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    Richard Buday FAIA
    Archimage, Inc.
    Houston TX
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