We had Donald Trump wrong. He doesn't want to be king. He wants to be an emperor. By drafting an executive order mandating all new public buildings to be designed classically - in the grandiloquent style of Old Rome - Trump wants to be Nero.

Masterbuilders push back against Trump's orders

Archpapers published a lengthy tweet from the American Institute of Architects rejecting Trump's order. AIA members say they don't want to model buildings after ancient civilizations.

They want to reflect the future: "Architecture should be designed for the specific communities that it serves, reflecting our rich nation’s diverse places, thought, culture and climates."

Remaking America in the image of old Europe

Quoting from the Architectural Record, Hypoallergic cited the title of the executive order: "Making Federal Buildings Beautiful Again," and called it "reminiscent of the monumental, white construction that has defined Washington, D.C., since its inception, as well as the structures built-in ancient Rome and Greece, and more recently, in Hitler’s Third Reich."

Look who wants dignity in the public square

Of course, Trump doesn't see what the Architectural Record sees.

According to his ruling, public buildings should "provide visual testimony to the dignity, enterprise, vigor, and stability of the American government" - you know as his presidency does.

Dreaming the impossible dream

Evidently, Trump dreams a rebirth, a Renaissance of public buildings - that once rose when the Medici family ruled - are now castles in the air. Consider this from art historian Mortimer Wheeler's 1964 book Roman Art and Architecture: "Unlike the Renaissance society, which was aristocratic and intelligently selective, Roman society was through-and-through bourgeois and was not at all clear, culturally, where it was going." Sound familiar?

That describes Trump, doesn't it?

How bourgeois is Trump's executive order for architects?

Dictating architecture style is the stuff of a gated community, a neighborhood association bylaw, not a democratic society. Where's the Republican credo - of less government and more freedom for the individual - when you need it?

Did he really say that? You're kidding

The oddest part of Trump's desire to control architecture design sits squarely in Hypoallergic's report of a book he favors - Ayn Rand's 1943 novel The Fountainhead.

You have to wonder if he ever read the book because his ruling so completely contradicts what it preaches. Check out this quote from the hero in the book, architect Howard Roark, who proclaims that the only rule he adheres to is his own:

"Rules? Here are my rules: A building is alive, like a man. Its integrity is to follow its own truth, its one single theme, and to serve its own single purpose."

Even if Trump only read the cliff notes for Rand's novel, he'd know that Roark would be the first in line to defy the executive order.

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