Architecture Blogs Take on The Fountainhead

fountainhead3

[image via Strange Harvest]

So now that we’ve seen The Fountainhead as interpreted by America’s favorite cartoon family, The Simpsons, it seemed like it might be a good time for a more…informed take on Ayn Rand’s book and the resulting 1949 film. Recently, Fantastic Journal, Strange Harvest, Lebbeus Woods, and Things Magazine have all shared their thoughts on the black-and-white world of Howard Roark and Ellsworth Toohey. Despite their various perspectives, everyone seems to agree that it is one of very few—if not the only—film that is actually about architecture. As Woods puts it “architecture is not merely a background, but is the central issue in the narrative, around which the lives of the characters revolve.” Outside of that central agreement, each architect has their own take on the film. Charles Holland’s compares Ayn Rand’s interpretation of Modernism with that of From Bauhaus to Our House author Thomas Wolfe’s interpretations of Modernism to Wood’s ruminations on ethics and aesthetics in architecture. Sam Jacob, meanwhile, looks at The Fountainhead’s representation of architecture as an emotional landscape and ponders who the modern-day equivalent of Howard Roark might be. Richard Rogers? Daniel Libeskind? Or maybe it should be someone like Cameron Sinclair? Not a starchitect per se, but someone with an incredibly strong, almost righteous perspective on the power of architecture to impact lives. After all, doesn’t “Design like you give a damn” sound like something Howard Roark might say?


&#183 Spouting Off: Some Thoughts On The Fountainhead [Strange Harvest]
&#183 The Fountainhaus [Fantastic Journal]
&#183 Ayn Rand and The Fountainhead [Things Magazine]
&#183 The Fountainhead [Lebbeus Woods]
&#183 Mediocrity Rules! The Simpsons & The Fountainhead [Life Without Buildings]

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Jimmy Stamp

Jimmy Stamp is a freelance writer, researcher, and recovering architect. He has contributed to The Guardian, Wired, Smithsonian, The Journal of Architectural Education, and many other websites and publications. His first book Pedagogy and Place: 100 Years of Architecture Education at Yale comes out in spring 2016. If you need a writer with a penchant for Piranesi and pop culture, or if you just want to say hi, you can find him on twitter @LifeSansBldgs or email him at jamestamp@gmail.com

8 thoughts on “Architecture Blogs Take on The Fountainhead”

  1. Hey, come on guys, what about Towering Inferno. That’s a film about architecture if there ever was one. In fact Die Hard One comes close too. Great story though and great site.
    Cheers,

    Jim

  2. Obviously, Frank Lloyd Wright was the architect upon which Howard Roark was modeled. The only well known contemporary architect I can think of who could fit the bill today would be Santiago Calatrava. His work embodies a humanism combined with a powerful creativity.

    I would have to rank most other “starchitect”, especially including Daniel Libeskind, more like the villains of the novel rather than the hero. I see many of these people as sculptors rather than architects since their structures are almost totally about form without reference to the people who inhabit them.

    Regards,

    C. Jeffery Small

  3. Ugh, Fountainhead. I read an interview with Rem Koolhaus about the Seattle Library in which he refuted the Howard Roark model of the hero-architect. And if even Rem thinks its b.s., you know its bad.

    Speaking of architecture movies- ever seen Mr Blandings Builds his Dream House with Cary Grant? My boss recommends it to all of our new residential clients.

  4. Did you say Libeskind as a contemporary Roark??? Jeez, this is the clown who paid another architectural firm (Alex Gorlin Architects), to design his own home. And then Libeskind tried to cover it up by lying to the New YTork Times and saying that he designed it himself!!! Libeskind has about as much integity or ethics as Adolph Hitler!! Libeskind is no Howard Roark, that much is certain.

  5. I think the late Samuel Mockbee qualifies as an architect-hero with great integrity and a social conscience. Rem Koolhaas is a pretentious academic. As for Daniel Libeskind, he’s a great role model for anyone seeking to be a world renowned jackass and idiot.

  6. Did you say Libeskind as a contemporary Roark??? Jeez, this is the clown who paid another architectural firm (Alex Gorlin Architects), to design his own home. And then Libeskind tried to cover it up by lying to the New YTork Times and saying that he designed it himself!!! Libeskind has about as much integity or ethics as Adolph Hitler!! Libeskind is no Howard Roark, that much is certain.

  7. Just want to say I enjoyed this post. My vote for Roark goes to Cameron Sinclair or Sambo Mockbee ……Not….. Libeskind

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