September 01, 2004

Architecture Obituary: Fay Jones

E. Fay Jones died in Arkansas on Monday. He was a protege of Frank Lloyd Wright and is credited with the creation of the Ozark Syle of architecture, a term he didn't like but which, according to the obituary in the NY Times, was important. The Times acknowledges that he was a regional architect but he was very influential just the same. The reason we are talking about him today is because of the Thorncrown Chapel, in Arkansas. The Times writes about it thusly:

His most famous chapel, Thorncrown in Eureka Springs, Ark., was a reverse play on European Gothic cathedrals. It was inspired especially by the 13th-century Ste.-Chapelle in Paris. The authors of "Architecture in North America Since 1960" described his method there: "At Thorncrown, he reverses the Gothic characteristic of a heavy compressive structure of stone and makes its inverse as a light tensile structure of wood."

In a biography, "Fay Jones,'' Robert Adams Ivy Jr., editor of Architectural Record, writes, "This harmoniously unified masterpiece is arguably among the 20th century's great works of art."

Thorncrown is tall and narrow, built of glass, wood and stone. Mr. Jones used a stabilizing device believed to be new at the time, crossed-wood bracing near the ceiling running most of the length of the building. Each brace is two lengths of two-by-four lumber joined by hollow steel joints that produce "a diamond fretwork of light'' that creates "the illusion of infinity," Mr. Ivy writes.

Ste. Chapelle is, to me, the most wonderous structure ever created by man. It is the embodiment of pure light. To see a splendid photo of it from Ken Rockwell, go here (image removed from site at request of artist after I checked with him).

This is my favorite building in Paris and I go visit it whenever I have the chance. It was built between 1246 and 1248 to hold the Crown of Thorns, as well as a piece of the True Cross and its steeple rises some 75 meters.

Throwncrown is clearly derived from it and here are a couple of photos I found. You can see the interior picture below and note the resemblance yourself:





R.I.P, Mr. Jones.

Posted by Random Penseur at September 1, 2004 08:34 AM

Ah, GOD that picture of Ste. Chapelle is gorgeous! Jumped off the page at me. Thanks!

Posted by: Amber at September 1, 2004 11:30 AM

Glad you enjoyed it!

Posted by: RP at September 1, 2004 01:25 PM

yes amber - i second that


Posted by: kbear at September 1, 2004 10:25 PM

Jones did the chapel where Mallarme (of the Greater Nomadic Council) was married.

Posted by: David at September 3, 2004 02:51 PM

Ste.-Chapelle in Paris is a superb building, one of the greatest in the world. I visited it in 1973. But, in my mind, the Chapel of King's College, Cambridge is the more splendid building. I was an undergrad at Cambridge in 1979-80 and went to Evensong there several times. It is an incredible building: like the Paris chapel, a simple interior which is a vehicle for the stained glass. Absolutely incredible when combined with the unearthly acoustics and the boy trebles of the College choir.

Posted by: John Devlin at March 15, 2005 09:39 AM
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