The fountainhead

Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead 1943


Most people build as they live – as a matter of routine and senseless accident. But few understand that building is a great symbol. We live in our minds, and existence is the attempt to bring that life into physical reality, to state it into gesture and form. For the man who understands this, a house he owns is a statement of his life. If he doesn’t build when he has the means, it’s because his life has not been what he wanted.

(Howard Roark to Gail Wynand, excerpt from “The fountainhead” by Ayn Rand 1943)    


“A house can have integrity, just like a person,” said Roark, “and just as seldom.” “In what way?” “Well, look at it. Every piece of it is there because the house needs it – and for no other reason. You see it from here as it is inside. The rooms which you’ll live made the shape. The relation of masses was determined by the distribution of space within. The ornament was determined by the method of construction, an emphasis of the principle that makes it stand. You can see each stress, each support that meets it. Your own eyes go through a structural process when you look at the house, you can follow each step, you see it rise, you know what made it and why it stands. But you’ve seen buildings with columns that support nothing, with purposeless cornices, with pillasters, mouldings, false arches, false windows. You’ve seen buildings that look as if they contained a single large hall, they have solid columns and single solid windows six floors high. But you enter and find six stories inside. Or buildings that contain a single hall, but with a facade cut up into floor lines, band courses, tiers of windows. Do you understand the difference? Your house is made by its own needs. The others are made by the need to impress. The determining motive of your house is in the house. The determining motive in the others is in the audience.”

(Howard Roark to Austen Heller, excerpt from “The fountainhead” by Ayn Rand 1943)