In The Fountainhead the almost-fictional architect Howard Roark destroys a work of his inception with the assistance of his young lover Dominique; it is an act of consummation, a moment of crazed abandon and destruction. Inspired, the impassioned Roark unwittingly creates the modern architect’s ultimate urban expression, a tabla raza; a clean and bright surface on which to begin anew, to build a first idea. A visionary act of self love, or a sign of the onset of madness?
When the product of a loving hand, an architect’s ideas can stir the soul; once realised the work often veils a conceit, hidden inside each building is the designer’s heart.
In architecture, perfection is a cruel muse. Set in a world of compromise, and assuming a designer’s goal is perfection, he or she is truly doomed to failure. The pursuit of beauty requires perspective, time and quietude to be fully revealed. Under pressure, ill considered compromises blind the designer to beauty.
The opening of a new work of architecture can be traumatic for its designer. As a form of public art, completed works are never as true and perfect a reflection of the first idea, never a perfect mirror of the initial vision.
When the public sees the final work, the influence of design decisions begin to impact and diminish the work. Criticism cruelly focuses on compromises as shortcomings and tends not to recognise the strengths of the original idea.
The vision has been lost.