President Biden moved to oust key members of an art committee that advised the administration on design and architecture in Washington DC as he continued his purge of Trump-appointed officials this week.
Four figures from the seven-member American Commission of Fine Arts were ordered to resign or be fired.
They include an outspoken supporter of Trump’s war on modernism, as well as the lead architect of the classically inspired White House tennis pavilion and a landscape architect who redesigned the rose garden with first lady Melania Trump.
Justin Shubow, the chair of the committee, told MailOnline.com they were targeted for their support of classical styles over modernism.
The revamped rose garden was opened in August, after a facelift by landscape architect Perry Guillot under the direction of the first lady. He was among those fired this week by the American Commission of Fine Arts
Four members were told on Monday to resign or be fired that evening at 6 p.m.
Justin Shubow said the administration was out of step with an audience looking to design federal buildings in a classic style
“ With its actions, it appears that this administration is opposed to classic design, meaning it occupies a very large minority position in American life, ” he said, referring to research that 72% of the public preferred federal buildings build in classic styles.
‘Architecture is not a partisan issue. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, for example, was a staunch supporter of classical architecture for Washington DC, which he called “the most beautiful city in the world.” ‘
He received a letter from the White House on Monday saying he would be fired that night if he didn’t resign immediately.
He declined, demanding a statement, claiming that commissioners had never been removed from office before.
“ Legally appointed by the president in October 2018 for a four-year term, I served honorably and well on the committee, and was indeed elected chairman by my fellow commissioners, ” he wrote in his email response.
All four – including artist Chas Fagan, landscape architect Perry Guillot and architect Steven Spandle – were appointed by Trump.
Guillot collaborated with Melania Trump on the design of the White House Rose Garden last year.
Spandle was the lead architect of another project from the former first lady, a new, classically inspired White House tennis pavilion.
Melania Trump unveiled the new classically inspired tennis pavilion in December. Lead architect Steven Spandle was fired by the Biden administration of the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, along with other Trump appointees
Spandle (left) can be seen with the first lady during work on the tennis pavilion on the southern lawn of the White House
Spandle joined the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts early this year before being impeached this week
A day after they were ordered, the White House announced four people to take their positions.
They include Peter Cook, the architect behind the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, and Hazel Ruth Edwards, a professor of architecture at Howard University.
The architecture of the capital stood last year when Trump objected to modernist design and signed an executive order urging a return to neoclassical, Georgian and Greek Revial traditions.
The order was entitled Make Federal Buildings Beautiful Again.
It provoked resistance from some architects.
The removal of landscaper Perry Guillot means there will be no landscape architect on the commission despite the number of parks and open spaces in the country’s capital
“ Communities should have the right and responsibility to decide for themselves which architectural design best suits their needs, and we look forward to working with President-elect Biden to ensure that, ” said Robert Ivy, CEO of the American Institute of Architects.
Shubow, in his role as president of the National Civic Art Society, was one of those who welcomed Trump’s intervention.
“ Since the mid-20th century, modernist mandarins dominating government architecture have forced ugly designs on us, ” he wrote.
“President Trump stood for tradition and beauty in public architecture, and for the heartfelt desires of the American people.”
The White House defended the decision to remove members from the committee.
Press Secretary Jen Psaki said some had only been appointed just before Trump left power.
“And any president who comes in certainly has the right to nominate his own people to serve on a committee or to fill a position in their own administration,” she said.