Thomas Gordon Smith, a practitioner and champion of classical architecture, will be the U.S. General Services Administration's new chief architect, according to Sept. 6 article in The Wall Street Journal.

The appointment of Smith could mean that future federal construction projects will embrace a more traditional style, in contrast to the legacy of the previous chief architect, Edward Feiner, who retired in January 2005. Feiner established a design-review process at the GSA that commissioned projects from avant-garde architects such as Thom Mayne and Richard Meier as well as more-traditional architects such as Robert A.M. Stern and Ralph Jackson.

Stern, dean of the Yale School of Architecture, pleased with the news. “[Smith is] a wonderful choice [who will] probably get a lot of people crazy,” said Stern in the Journal article. “[He has] a strong point of view, and that's great. But he has the capacity to shift and manage his position without closing the door to others.”

But not everyone in the architecture community so sanguine. “A representative of the U.S. government needs to act on balance in the selection of architects,” Stanley Tigerman, principal of Tigerman McCurry Architects in Chicago, tells ARCHITECT. “And with Jeff Speck [director of design at the National Endowment of the Arts, appointed in 2003] and now Smith, there seems to be a right-wing Republican pattern…. To have [Smith] as head of GSA—shocking barely begins to describe it.”

Wisconsin Residence, 2000
Thomas Gordon Smith Architects Wisconsin Residence, 2000

No official word on the appointment had been released by press time, and both Smith and the Public Buildings Service commissioner's office at the GSA declined to comment on the matter.

Thomas Gordon Smith

Positions: principal, Thomas Gordon Smith Architects, South Bend, Ind.; professor, University of Notre Dame School of Architecture, Notre Dame, Ind.

Selected projects: Divine Mercy Catholic Church, Laredo, Texas (2001); World Trade Tower, Shanghai, China (1996; in collaboration with Shanghai Design Institute); Bond Hall School of Architecture, University of Notre Dame (1997; in collaboration with Ellerbe-Beckett)

Selected publications:Vitruvius on Architecture (New York: Monacelli Press, 2003); Classical Architecture: Rule and Tradition (Layton, Utah: Gibbs M. Smith, 1988)

Monograph of work:Thomas Gordon Smith: The Rebirth of Classical Architecture, by Richard John (London: Andreas Papadakis, 2001)