Architecture Blogs Take on The Fountainhead


[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]


Mediocrity Rules! The Simpsons Takes on The Fountainhead

Last night, The Simpsons finally got around to sending up The Fountainhead. Yes, Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead: the superficially architectural Objectivist manifesto so often given to incoming architecture students everywhere by their well-meaning relatives. The book that can have the unfortunate side-effect of brainwashing said first year architecture students. In typical irreverent form, the “Bible of Right Wing nutjobs” (Lisa’s words) is transposed to Maggie’s preschool, a preschool presided over by that staunch proponent of the prosaic, Ellsworth Toohey. In her defiant self-expression, Maggie Roark uses blocks, sugar cubes, and tinker toys to produce familiar structures ranging from the Taj Mahal to the Bird’s Nest. Toohey, staying true to his literary equivalent, is clearly enjoying himself in finding increasingly creative methods of destroying the block buildings, culminating in a sledgehammer redesign of Frank Gehry’s Bilbao Guggenheim (an ironic reversal of how the Simpson’s previously depicted Gehry’s “process”). Continue reading to view the full story, including Maggie’s version of Roark’s speech. UPDATE: Thanks to square for pointing out that Hulu is US only. A Youtube version of the clip has been added, but I’m not sure for how long it will stay online.