Four of the seven members of the Federal Fine Arts Commission, a generally low-key, earnest design advisory group engaged in architectural style battles during the Trump era, were asked to resign or face termination by the Biden administration is. To the Chairman of the Commission.
All seven members of the commission were appointed by former President Donald J. Trump; Four were appointed on January 12, just days before Mr. Trump left office.
The Commission “advises on matters of design and aesthetics, as they affect the federal interest and maintain the dignity of the nation’s capital,” according to Website. Mr. Trump, under his chairmanship, emphasized architecture in the late culture wars when he signed an executive order establishing classical architecture Favorite style For the new federal buildings, on opposition from major architectural and conservation groups, which weakened in any effort that could be seen as an attempt to implement the national style.
The commission’s chairman, Justin Shubo, who was a driving force behind the push to promote classical architecture, said he and three other members of the commission – architect Steven Spandall, artist Chas Fagan and landscape architect Perry Guillot – were asked Was. to resign. He said that members of the commission are appointed for a four-year term, adding that the demand to remove them would break a long-standing precedent.
“The administration’s action attacks classical architecture, a style beloved by the vast majority of the American people,” Mr. Shubo said in an email, adding that he expected the administration’s intention not to “bring back the ugliness” Was. Cruelty or any other depressing style. “
According to email correspondence reviewed by The New York Times, Mr. Shubo declined the request to resign. The email revealed that he had received a formal letter to the president from an assistant requesting his resignation on Monday. The letter said that if the White House does not receive his resignation, his post with the commission will be terminated on the same day from 6 pm.
“In the 110-year history of the commission, no commissioner has been removed by any chairman, except the chairman of the commission,” Mr. Shubo wrote in an email response. “Any such removal would set a terrible precedent.”
A White House spokesman said on Tuesday that Mr. Biden planned to appoint four new members to the Fine Arts Commission that would collectively bring a wide range of aesthetic perspectives. Appointed Includes: Peter Cook, a principal at HGA Architects who has worked on the National Museum of African American History and Culture; Hazel Ruth Edwards, president of the Howard University Department of Architecture; Justin Garrett Moore, a designer and urbanist at the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; And Todd Williams, a partner at Billy Tsian Architects.
Administration officials noted that the four members they had removed were appointed by the previous administration, and suggested their aesthetic sensibilities – including their strong advocacy for classical architecture – did not align with Mr. Biden.
Prior to the change, Mr. Trump lacked diversity in appointments Some people criticized Who noted that it is made up of all whites.
In a telephone interview on Tuesday, Mr. Guillot, who A.D. acted on Recent renovation of Rose GardenConfirmed that he too was asked to resign from his post on Monday. He said he only thought it best to pass the 6pm deadline, after which he wrote a letter to White House staff saying his tenure was so short and that Biden was wishing the administration good luck.
“I thought it was a way to let it go slowly,” he said, adding that he would prefer to stay on it. “I found the work incredibly meaningful.”
Mr. Guillot also said that he “did not come from a strict classical school.”
“This will be a moment when the CFA is also politicized,” he said. “It may actually be that when an administration starts the conditions are new, such as cabinet posts.”
Mr. Spandle did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Tuesday.
Mr. Shubo, who was elected as chairman of the commission in January, noted that all four late appointments to the Trump administration had replaced members nominated by former President Barack Obama as he was about to step down.
The issue of classical architecture proved to be divisive among architects. The order that President Trump eventually signed was titled “Promoting Beautiful Federal Civil Architecture, “Established classical architecture as the preferred style for new federal buildings, but stopped the banning of other styles.
The American Institute of Architects called on the Biden administration to reverse the order. The Washington Post’s art and architecture critic Philip Kennicott wrote in February that President Biden needed Remove members of the commission, Describing them as less prestigious than their predecessors.
Mr biden Architecture order aborted Soon after assuming office.