Fay Jones: With Soaring Splendor
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He explains the development from earlier Romanesque architecture to full Gothic: ``In order to make these spaces taller, they have this ascendancy - whatever it is here that seems the kind of space that's conducive to religious contemplation. It seemed to be a space that had some soaring quality - you know: It's up here [he points toward the sky], whatever it is - not down here.''Skip to next paragraph
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Jones, a trim man with gray hair and beard, has quick brown eyes and an angular Southern voice with a bit of Arkansas twang. Gothic, he points out, is something an architect would pick up on ``not with the idea of copying those buildings ... but looking at their ideals and looking at their compositional order. So if they were trying to make them taller, let's keep makin' 'em tall; if they were trying to bring in more light, let's bring in more light.
``The secret is bringing in symmetry, repetition, height, ascendancy. These are kind of the intangible things; they are not physical materials, but they're expressed with physical materials.''
Jones talks of the Cooper Chapel, which is his homage to the Gothic, just as the interior of Pinecote is his homage to the Johnson Wax Building, with its columns like futuristic tree trunks.
He says of the Cooper Chapel, which rises like a prayer in consecutive Gothic arches to the sky, ``This is what makes it all worthwhile - that it's going to be uplifting, conducive to religious contemplation or one thinking his best thoughts.''
He admits, too, that the sky inspires him. ``Sky is very important to me, in that it's that great source of light and there are so many nuances of the sky.... I can't think of any building I've ever done that doesn't have skylights or clerestories or something else to bring in the natural light from the sky.''
After the Johnson Wax movie, Jones went on to get his bachelor's degree in architecture at the University of Arkansas, did graduate studies at Rice University, apprenticed at Wright's Taliesen in Spring Green, Wis., then returned to teach architecture at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. Here, he and his wife set up an architectural practise with his partner, Maurice Jennings, an fellow Arkansas graduate.
Among the most important things Jones says he learned from Wright: ``If architecture is a work of art, it's going to make life more beautiful, more wonderful for those who use it. He used to say that a house is more a home if it's a work of art.''
Wright also pointed out to Jones that the younger architect's work reached up in vertical fashion, whereas Wright's own work concentrated on the horizontal. Wright urged Jones to keep on building up.
Jones says, ``I have never tried to develop a style. I would like to solve specific problems in ways that solutions take on style - so they have style rather than be of a style.''
He says winning the AIA gold medal isn't going to change his small (five- or six-people) office one tad. ``I don't plan to gear up to take on any more commissions. I don't plan to change, if what I've been doing got me here.'' He laughs. ``I'm not going to short-circuit the processes that have been working for me.''