We need to ensure that the money spent goes to creative, sustainable buildings that will stand the test of time and will still be used by our children and our grandchildren. After all, they are the ones who are going to be paying for these debt-financed projects.
Government sponsorship of great architecture has a proud tradition in the United States, starting with Thomas Jefferson, himself an architect and the designer of Monticello, the University of Virginia and the Virginia Capitol.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal gives us an instructive model for our challenge today. President Obama’s proposed stimulus package has already been compared to the New Deal as a jobs creation program. As part of FDR’s response to the Great Depression, numerous public-works projects were funded by the federal government. Those projects put people back to work, but they also created civic masterworks that still stand, like the Golden Gate Bridge, Camp David, and Charity Hospital in New Orleans.
Perhaps the greatest design opportunity the economic stimulus can give us is for green and sustainable design to become an automatic and essential part of the architecture of new buildings, not just an added extra. In the same way that a bailout for the auto industry presents the prospect of reorienting the design of automobiles in a sustainable direction, so the economic stimulus package offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reorient our architectural focus toward sustainable design. There are few better ways to do that than to put federal contracting dollars behind sustainable design.
Buildings from the Last New Deal Not Surviving This One
Quote of the Day: Felix Rohatyn on the Green New Deal
Quote of the Day: Conrad Black on the New Deal