AIA condemns GSA solicitation mandating classical design for Ft. Lauderdale courthouse

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Robert Ivy (Photo: AIA)

WASHINGTON – The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has condemned the U.S. General Services Administration’s (GSA) recent mandate for a federal district courthouse to be designed in a classical style in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

“We reject the principle of any pre-ordained styles mandated for GSA projects,” said AIA EVP/Chief Executive Officer Robert Ivy, FAIA. “Instead, the AIA emphatically supports the peer-reviewed Design Excellence Program, which has raised the quality of federal design in communities throughout the United States, with projects tailored to the people, the places, and the times we live in.”

While no Executive Order has been issued to date, the AIA believes that this is GSA’s project-by-project replacement of the draft order, which was circulated earlier this year. Since last year, AIA has been working to stop the order, which attempted to establish classical architecture as the preferred style. This would have applied to all federal courthouses, all federal public buildings in the Capital region, and all other federal public buildings whose cost exceeds $50 million.

Last month, AIA expressed strong support for the “Democracy in Design Act” (H.R.7604), which was introduced by Rep. Dina Titus (D-Nev.) in July. The legislation would override the recent action by the GSA and prevent any future Executive Order by directing “the Administrator of General Services to ensure that the construction and acquisition of public buildings in the United States adheres to the Guiding Principles for Federal Architecture.” By codifying the GSA’s Design Excellence Program principles into statute, Congress will ensure the federal government maintains its current neutrality on architectural styles.

In February, AIA members sent more than 11,400 letters to the White House condemning the earlier draft Executive Order. Additionally, AIA leadership issued letters on Feb. 6 and Feb. 20 to the Trump Administration strongly opposing the order.