Remembering Fay Jones
We have noted the passing of E. Fay Jones last week at age 83. I was deeply saddened by the news and full of memory of my one brief encounter with him (read on below).
When I was in architecture school in Indiana in the late '80s, E. Fay Jones came to give a lecture. At that time I was in a studio working on a competition to design a new museum for a Viking ship in Chicago. My design included a series of inverted boat shapes based on the Viking longhouse. The design of these forms featured bent wood ribs. While working one afternoon at my desk there was a stir of commotion in the studio. Suddenly a slight white haired Fay Jones appeared at the side of my desk. Seems my professor was touring him around the school. I was so stunned I could hardly speak to explain and present my work to him. Frank Lloyd Wright's work had inspired me as a child to become an architect. For me, E. Fay Jones was as close to Wright himself as I was going to get. All these years later I don't remember all of what he said to me. I do remember him saying that he had to think long and hard before he curved a piece of wood for one of his designs. He knew it was technically feasible but was it within the nature of the material. That was his primary concern. Overall my memories of him are a humble experienced man who held firmly to his principles. By the way his lecture was fascinating. He showed about 300 slides. I remember how amazing it was to learn how his architecture was informed by the site, the nature of materials and also historic precedent. Some of these beautiful homes in the landscapes of Arkansas were informed by the historic architecture of Europe.
If you are not familiar with the whole of Jones' work, I strongly encourage you to do a little research and discover this quiet master. He's known for his chapels, but look also for his rich residential architecture that clearly stands on the shoulders of the Prairie school.
Here is a good place to start with more memories to E. Fay Jones.