Thorncrown Chapel
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Architect Fay Jones
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Location Eureka Springs, Arkansas   map
Date 1980   timeline
Building Type chapel
 Construction System exposed light wood frame
Climate temperate
Context rural, wooded
Style Modern
Notes By Fay Jones and Associates. Crisscrossing light wood frame recalls Gothic and surrounding trees while lifting the mind skyward.






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Plan Drawing

Section Drawing

Section Drawing

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Discussion Thorncrown Chapel Commentary

"So it is not only the form of elements and their relationship in and to the landscape that is fundamental in site considerations, but shapes and materials, methods of building character, and associative cultural and remembered image evocations are also important. Such is Thorncrown Chapel by Fay Jones in rural Arkansas, an architecture which complements and, in creating a special sense of place, 'almost' completes the site. The character of the site dictated the method of construction, by 'not using anything too big for two men to carry along a narrow hillside path.' Jones's use of wooden tensile members in an overhead cross-lattice system holding the structure together, in fragility of the building and its surroundings, as life and nature itself is fragile and special. The rhythmic quality of the structure set against the calm magnitude of nature creates a sense of sacred space: The music of the fleeting the forest is a layering of vertical trunks and raking branches so is the building a canopy of layered and meshlike space. Thorncrown Chapel succeeds on yet another level, that of the symbolic: Using massing reminiscent of rural covered bridges, the image of shelter on the road of life is in keeping with the ecclesiastical understanding of nature. This is where regionalism through site and climate can play a vital role in making architecture not personally idiosyncratic in an ego or alternatively abstract-rule-applied sense, but special in a locally sensitive and relative sense."

— from Paul Heyer. American Architecture: Ideas and Ideologies in the Late Twentieth Century. p102-103.

"This exquisite chapel in the Ozark woods is small (24 feet by 60 feet by 48 feet high) and walled with glass. It rises from fieldstone floors and two low fieldstone walls; otherwise it is built almost entirely of standard-size lumber worked with the attention to detail of a master cabinetmaker. Repeating diamond shapes loft upward to its overhanging peaked roof. It has been compared to Lloyd Wright's Wayfarers Chapel...."

— from Sylvia Hart Wright. Sourcebook of Contemporary North American Architecture: From Postwar to Postmodern. p63.

Sources on Thorncrown Chapel

"AIA Awards to Predock, Thorncrown, Moore Ruble Yudell", by ArchitectureWeek, ArchitectureWeek No. 273, 2006.0201, pN1.1.

"Remembering Fay Jones", by Michael Cockram, ArchitectureWeek No. 209, 2004.0915, p1.

Akiko Busch. The Photography of Architecture: Twelve Views. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1993. ISBN 0-442-01349-3. LC 86-5627. TR659.B87 1986. interior and exterior photos, p103. photos by Greg Hursley.

Charles K. Gandee. "A Wayfarer's Chapel By Fay Jones", Architectural Record. March 1981, Vol 169 Number 3. p80. drawing of plan, p88. drawing of longitudinal section, p88. drawing of transverse section, p88. drawing of door detail, p93.

Paul Heyer. American Architecture: Ideas and Ideologies in the Late Twentieth Century. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1993. ISBN 0-442-01328-0. LC 92-18415. NA2750.H48. interior and exterior photos of chapel, p103. discussion, p102-103.

Sylvia Hart Wright. Sourcebook of Contemporary North American Architecture: From Postwar to Postmodern. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1989. ISBN 0-422-29190-6. LC 89-5320. NA703.W75 1989. discussion, p63.

Kevin Matthews. The Great Buildings Collection on CD-ROM. Artifice, 2001. ISBN 0-9667098-4-5.— Available at  Find books about Thorncrown Chapel


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