Friday, September 10, 2004

Fay Jones' Thorncrown Chapel 

The buildings that I most love are spiritual places, those that recognize and nurture the soul. While I am not, at this point in my life, conventionally religious, I am drawn to religious architecture.

In the woods near Eureka Springs, Arkansas, stands my favorite building in this country, if not the world. This chapel, called Thorncrown, is spare and elegant, rich and warm. It is simultaneously grounding and uplifting. It is a masterpiece. Fay Jones, architect of Thorncrown, died on August 30. The following words are those of his biographer, Robert Ivy, and his own on receiving the American Institute of Architects' Gold Medal in 1990.

"Fay Jones' architecture begins in order and ends in mystery. His role can perhaps best be understood as a mediator, a human consciousness that has arisen from the Arkansas soil and scoured the cosmos, then spoken through the voices of stone and wood, glass and steel. Art, philosophy, craft, and human aspiration coalesce in his masterworks, transformed from acts of will into harmonies: Jones lets space sing." Robert Adams Ivy, Jr.

"In the future - in a changing world - whatever the sources of our creativity - whatever stirs our imagination - whatever architectural language we choose to speak - as architects, we have the potential to build well-composed places, large and small, that will not only accommodate our functional needs, but will stand as models which represent the best of our ideas. We have the power - and the responsibility - to shape new forms in the landscape - physical and spatial forms that will illuminate - and nourish - and poetically express - our human qualities at their spiritual best."
E. Fay Jones