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What did Roark mean when he said "i don't intend to build in order to have clients, i intend to have clients in order to build" ?

Ayn Rand : The FountainHead

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"building in order to have clients", which is what Roark vows not to do, implies that he would design in order to appeal to the tastes of others without regard to his own esthetics. Rather, "having clients in order to build" implies the client will precede the building, presumably because such a client admires his style. This follows in the tradition of Frank Lloyd Wright, who made it clear that his style was his own, and he would never veer from that. Those that admired his design style sought him out; Wright rarely (if ever) pursued clients.

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In my view, Roark meant that he could not have business without clients as they are the ones who would keep him in the business building. He could build buildings without clients, which was not his intention as it would not show that he had accomplished however, having clients and retaining them would show they trusted him to do a good job and were impressed with his earlier work.

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It means that his ambition is to build and that he does the work for its own sake and for his own enjoyment but in order to be able to do the work, he needs clients to build for and who will pay the costs. Clients become the means to build. The opposite is to have a desire to become someone "important" and will build in order to have the admiration of others. Building then becomes the means to clients. "To build in order to have clients". The fountainhead is the conflict between these motives.

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