Washington, DC – Today Congresswoman Dina Titus (D-NV), Ranking Member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management, which oversees federal buildings, announced the reintroduction of her bipartisan Democracy in Design Act with Congressman Mike Simpson (R-ID) and Congressman Buddy Carter (R-GA) to preserve creativity and diversity in the design of federal buildings. Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) introduced companion legislation in the United States Senate.
“Architecture varies widely across the United States, and that’s a good thing. We don’t need federal mandates dictating how local governments should design federal buildings in their communities. That’s why this legislation emphasizes regional architecture traditions, letting them guide the design process instead of one-size-fits-all national rules,” said Rep. Titus. “Federal design guidelines shouldn’t confine all architecture to one point in history. They should reflect all the progress our country has made and reflect our diverse history and culture.”
“There’s no need for the federal government to mandate architectural designs for federal buildings across the United States,” said Rep. Simpson. “Each local community deserves the unique opportunity to innovate and design buildings that fit and reflect the communities they serve. This bipartisan bill preserves that right and I am proud to be a cosponsor.”
“Just like the people who live in this great country, our physical landscape differs from state to state. Washington doesn’t need to dictate what federal buildings look like in Georgia or North Dakota; diversity and democracy in design is beautiful, reasonable, and should be protected. Our history and culture are reflected in our buildings, and we cannot wipe away the whole of the American story for a one-size-fits-all aesthetic,” said Rep. Carter.
“The government should not mandate a one-size-fits-all approach on the design of federal buildings. This legislation will help ensure that the architecture of our government is not limited to any one style or influence, and, as it has throughout our history, can reflect the will of our nation and our people,” said Sen. Van Hollen.
“New Mexico is blessed to have such rich history and culture that enriches our state from our food to architecture. Our adobe style architecture is distinctly New Mexican and draws in tourists and artists each year,” said Sen. Luján. “Similarly to how the New Mexico State Capitol reflects the cultures of our state, so should our federal buildings. That's why I’m proud to introduce the Democracy in Design Act to help ensure architectural designs in federal buildings are community-centered."
“The American Institute of Architects (AIA) strongly supports the bipartisan, bicameral Democracy in Design Act. The design of federal buildings must be responsive to the people and communities who will use those buildings. As such, these structures must reflect our country’s diverse tastes, traditions, and geographic regions. This bipartisan legislation will maintain a community-centered approach to design and allow continued architectural and community-driven innovation. We applaud Congresswoman Titus (D-NV), Congressman Simpson (R-ID), Congressman Carter (R-GA), Senator Van Hollen (D-MD), and Senator Luján (D-NM) for their leadership on this important issue,” said the American Institute of Architects.
For nearly 60 years, the General Services Administration relied upon the Guiding Principles for Federal Architecture as the core tenets of federal building design. As Ranking Member and former Chair of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management, Rep. Titus’s efforts to democratize federal building design began when the previous administration issued an executive order mandating Neoclassical architecture for all federal buildings.
The order elicited a broad backlash, as a clear overreach of the federal government and a backwards attempt to instill “national values” into the country’s architecture. President Biden ultimately overturned the order, and now Reps. Titus, Carter, and Simpson are working with members of both parties to advance this legislation and forestall any future efforts to mandate a specific federal building design.
This legislation is supported by the American Institute of Architects. Its full text can be found here.