An article in today’s New York Times (“‘Sixteen Acres’: Rebuilding Ground Zero“) starts with a nod to Ayn Rand’s Howard Roark, and an unsubstantiated claim about the validity of her philosophy:
AYN RAND may be long discredited as a philosopher, but her ideas about architecture are still very much alive. Howard Roark, the protagonist of her objectivist fantasia ”The Fountainhead,” is the archetypal artist-hero, rendering society’s soul in concrete and steel. Since the 1940′s, his image has shaped our appreciation of everyone from Frank Lloyd Wright to Frank Gehry, defining even the competition to rebuild the World Trade Center site: the struggle between Daniel Libeskind and Larry Silverstein was seen as a veritable ”Fountainhead Redux” in which a valiant architect armed only with his dreams takes on a mega-developer.
The article contains this prediction for Ground Zero:
Flashy architecture became the smoke screen behind which the real deals were made. ”Though the process would churn on in search of a master plan,” Nobel writes, ”the only politically acceptable solution was already apparent in the summer of 2002. The site would be rebuilt as a crowded, mixed-use, shopping-intensive corporate development surrounding a large but compromised memorial. It was all over but the shouting.”
Just what Howard Roark would have recommended… Not!
The article ends with:
Still, if the selection process has so far produced a poor excuse for a monumental rebuilding, it is nonetheless a tribute to New York — messy, money-soaked, dominated by too many egos and too few level heads. ”When the politicians line up to cut their ribbons,” Nobel writes, ”whatever shades the dais that day will be at once stranger and more fitting than anything they had imagined when they set about to govern its birth. In a way it will be perfect.” Clearly, Nobel wishes things were otherwise. But he also recognizes that in New York, even Howard Roark couldn’t make it so.
See the full article for further information.