When Presidents speak about design...Mid-Centruy Modernism is dead...?

In 2014 President Xi Jinping stated that there would be “no more weird buildings” in China. Why China's President Says "No More Weird Buildings" | ArchDaily I took that as a cue for some changes to occur in the Asian design world, especially in architecture.

Fast forward to 2020 and now President Trump is spouting off about “Making federal buildings beautiful again”. Draft_of_Trump_White_House_Executive_Order_on_Federal_Buildings.pdf This is interesting reading indeed…

It appears that the screws are turning and a new form of government directed design aesthetic and process is being implemented as a reaction to the last 50 or so years of design progress as we enter the 21st century.

It appears this trend could be far reaching in the design world. Anybody here on this platform have “Classical Design” chops they are willing to add to their process in order to get a government contract? I was at the RSA security conference yesterday in San Francisco and the money that the government has to throw at data security projects is astounding. Imagine that, a new US Customs and Boarder Protection Department which is wrapped in a Monticello looking facade that can suck up your data while you try and make your appointment to get them to release your order of custom parts from Shenzhen quarantined due to CoronaVirus…

Not as dire as you suspect. Already discussed by Core.

Outside of design circles, a lot of public buildings from 1960~1990 are considered ugly. I think Jinping and Trump are just vocalizing what the population feels.

On the flip side, to build Monticello today would cost billions in labor. I doubt that many government buildings in the US will return to those classical styles. I did go to a buffet in Zhongshan that did look like a Greek temple. Perhaps that will be the new trend in China.

Thanks for the link iab…I rarely if ever read the core77 propaganda. I did not see you in the comments however…

Mr-914…there seems to be a correlation between dictator type leaders and the classics (they do not seem to big fans of modern writing or reading for that matter). After looking at Trump’s properties (and there are many) you can see very clearly his taste in design. There is a definite link between Socialism and Modern design where labor is in control of resources. Trump is not a fan whereas Xi seems to be the ultimate torch bearer.

The CCP is like an onion. They just keep adding layers on top of who they really are in order to learn and steal IP from the outside world. The result seems to always be tears and bad breath…

You must know that the term ‘propaganda’ implies malicious bias and disinformation. Do you think this is accurate or necessary when talking about a design blog you rarely if ever read?

I also disagree that labor has any control over resources in Xi’s China-- both thrusts seem entirely nationalistic and authoritarian. Reading the article from your initial post seems to suggest Xi is seeking a return to tradition or distinctly Chinese architecture. This is in contrast to every image in the article of hyper-modern buildings, which Xi labels as ‘weird.’ The point seems to be rejecting these western influences for a stronger national identity. He said that Chinese art should “disseminate contemporary Chinese values, embody traditional Chinese culture and reflect Chinese people’s aesthetic pursuit.”

China does seem to steal IP from wherever possible to turn a profit (as any developing nation does as the proverbial ladder is pulled)… but some elements of culture are extremely traditional, even to a competitive deficit. As a relatively minor example, modern mixed martial arts are all but banned in favor of traditional techniques. I first found out about this through an interesting youtube video on “fake martial arts” which builds up to the story of Xu Xiaodong - Wikipedia . The Bizarre World of Fake Martial Arts - YouTube Of course it all ties into the repression and vilification of dissidents… He Never Intended To Become A Political Dissident, But Then He Started Beating Up Tai Chi Masters

SHIELDS…Based on your replies and examples, I see that we disagree on most things here on this platform.

Good luck to you…

If only there were some forum in which we could converse about these sorts of disagreements… perhaps a board… of discussion?

I’m curious to know what my comments should be.

“Damn you Core for publishing such propaganda on your site that gets tens and tens of hits per day.”
“Damn you Core, it is obvious a draft of an order is indeed reality. How can you be such patsies.”
“Damn you Core for not supporting my entirely unsubstantiated conspiracy theory.”
“Damn you Core, everything on the interwebz is real, other than clickbait.”

The only reason why I didn’t post any of the above is my moral quality. Such profanity is profane. :frowning:

This was an entertaining (a little long winded) video with a somewhat shocking conclusion. I could see how its an analogy for the architecture discussion. Turn your back on cultural aspects of globalism, and eventually see competitive edge erode because your older ‘pure’ systems can’t keep up. I didn’t exactly perceive from the OPs article that Xi wants to return everything to the Forbidden City look however.

Presidents should basically STFU and leave buildings to architects and designers.

Yeah- The original article was so unclear! I have been looking for examples of new architecture based on Xi’s vision but haven’t been able to find a good example. I read it as a backlash to the hyper-modern “western” look… but it’s really unclear if that meant going back to tradition or something else.

This is a cool collection of images of Chinese architecture from 2012, including very modern, ancient, western copycat, derelict, and more varieties… Chinese Architecture, Old and New - The Atlantic

designbreathing’s understanding is on a higher plane.

There are many many sh*tty buildings all over China - I wouldn’t call any of those avant-garde projects the worst offenders by a long shot.

The worst ones I’ve seen there: any huge complex built on an empty site, with the bulldozed original houses still littering the surrounding plain, advertised by a huge unrealistic billboard, no real thought given to space planning or how people might want to live. They reek of corruption and waste. People end up huddled in the shadows and corners, living as they did before, but now in quickly crumbling towers styled more like Las Vegas or Atlantic City than anyplace else.

Thanks for posting that. I’ve experienced some of those building, but some were totally new to me. I thought this one was really interesting.


A visitor uses her mobile phone to take a picture of herself in front of the Liyuan Library at Jiaojiehe village of Huairou district, in Beijing, on September 8, 2012. A total of 45,000 firewood sticks were used to cover the glass wall of the building. The library opens its door to public for free every weekend, local media reported

That article does a great job of showing how diverse Chinese architecture is. What is Chinese architecture? Is it something derived from one of the many periods during Chinese history? Is it the continental European stylings of places like The Bund in Shanghai from the 1900s? The brutalist architecture of the 1970s after the cultural revolution? The international style buildings of Hong Kong? The starchitecture of modern Bejing? You can’t really define it as one thing…

And of course the same for the US. I was struck by this the last time I was in NY. I had a bit of free time and visited Hudson Yards. While the buildings are impressive I just felt a bit empty by the genericness of it all. At the time I thought of it as Un-New York. Reflecting on that thought a little more I had to ask myself “What the F’ does that even mean?” Is that what someone would have said about the Guggenheim when it was being built? Or about the Chrysler building? “That beautiful Art Deco skyscraper is great, but it just isn’t New York, can you make it look like a 3 story walk up Brownstone?”… that would be ridiculous. And so I had to take back my thoughts on Hudson Yards.

The world moves on, you can try to legislate it, but it won’t last long term. Except in the city center of Paris… they seem to have locked that down. But I think that is why I enjoy London so much more that Paris. London is a chaotic riot of architecture compared to the homogeneous nature of Paris’s core (to be fair there are some really cool buildings in Paris outside of the city center). I prefer the riot personally which means you have to take the good with the bad.

If I had to guess though I’d say that all these people railing against “weird” architecture probably want a bunch of “weird” Neo classical hunger Games looking buildings like this, Espaces d’Abraxas, which is a really place outside of Paris. Ironically it is public housing built by the communists party…