Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Rem Koolhaas & Howard Roark


The Seattle Times has an interview with Rem Koolhaas, who designed the Seattle Public Library, which opened four years ago. Its a great building, but that's not why I am posting the interview. My favorite part of the interview is this exchange:

Q: It was a large project to undertake when you had so much skepticism.

A: Yes, but of course we were not alone. And I think that is kind of actually one of the difficult and distorting things at the current moment, is that basically some architects are seen as kind of almost bullfighters who somehow have to kill an animal, but you're part of a much larger enterprise.

Q: I think there's a reason for that: too many people have read "The Fountainhead" and it's ruined them for life.

A: Yeah, exactly, exactly. And I think that's actually extremely inconvenient, because there was Deborah (L. Jacobs, former City Librarian), of course, and there was also a board, and we had a lot of bonding in the beginning. So it's definitely not an ego thing, you know, and it's definitely not where you kind of are looking for morons or ever think that somebody — you realize that some of the criticism is unfounded or naive or not particularly kind of ... benevolent, but it really comes with the territory and it's not something that you kind of respond to in egotistical terms.

Don't get me wrong -- The Fountainhead is a great book. But, as alluded in my review of Loving Frank, it is a very particular view of architects and the act of building. It is, also, a very incorrect view. If even Rem Koolhaas -- who is probably (with, maybe, Frank Gehry) the closest thing we have in this day to Frank Lloyd Wright or Howard Roark -- thinks the idea of the "hero-architect" is a fallacy, I assure you the rest of us think its total B.S. It is fun to read, though.

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