The vociferous reaction from the usual suspects to the proposed executive order, drafted this past February by the non-profit National Civic Art Society, that the federal government build “with special regard for the classical architectural style” was unsurprising. Opponents claimed that the proposal was “weaponizing” classical architecture and was “borderline totalitarian.” The New Republic wrote that the move “would stifle architecture and violate the free thought and artistic expression that are essential to a democracy.” But of course, to these skeptics, architects should be free to impose their “vision” on a public space at taxpayers’ expense. Whatever the merits of the proposal, it is hard not to see in the opposition a dedication to a certain view of aesthetics, one that caricatures the notion of...


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