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January 31st 1921, Pine Bluff, USA

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  • 1990 - AIA Gold Medal

E. Fay Jones Change this

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born 1921, Pine Bluff
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Euine Fay Jones, (January 31, 1921 – August 31, 2004) was an American architect and designer. He was an apprentice of Frank Lloyd Wright. Jones is also the only one of Wright's disciples to have received the AIA Gold Medal (1990), the highest honor awarded by the American Institute of Architects.

Early life

E. Fay Jones, (first name Euine which is pronounced U-wan and is an old Welsh form of John), was born in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, on January 31, 1921. Jones became the only surviving child in his family after losing both of his sisters at an early age. His family moved to Little Rock, Arkansas, and later to El Dorado, Arkansas. Jones was a longtime member of the Boy Scouts of America and earned the rank of Eagle Scout.

Jones' interest in architecture began with the design of treehouses in high school and seeing a short film about Frank Lloyd Wright. Jones hoped to earn an appointment to the United States Naval Academy and took engineering classes at the University of Arkansas to improve his chances. Jones' hopes were dashed when his congressman was defeated for reelection and was unable to offer an appointment.

At the outbreak of World War II Jones joined the United States Navy and served in the Pacific theater of operations as a naval aviator piloting torpedo and dive bombers.

After the War

After the war Jones studied at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, Arkansas and at Rice University in Houston, Texas. Jones encountered Frank Lloyd Wright in Houston, Texas and the two had an immediate rapport. Jones was teaching at the University of Oklahoma and Wright came to the university for a lecture. Wright invited Jones to his winter workshop Taliesin West near Scottsdale, Arizona. Later, Wright invited Jones's entire family to his home and design institute Taliesin in Spring Green, Wisconsin. Jones returned to both sites numerous times as both friend and apprentice and became a Taliesin Fellow. Jones was a great admirer of Wright but had no overwhelming desire to be personally famous and soon established a private practice in the Ozark Mountains of northwest Arkansas, where he also joined the faculty of department of architecture at the University of Arkansas, later serving as the first dean of the U of A School of Architecture. The ACSA (Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture) honored Jones with the ACSA Distinguished Professor Award in 1984-85.

Design career

Jones was a quiet and unassuming architect who preferred the quiet isolation of the Arkansas mountains to the urban landscape. Jones ignored architectural trends and instead focused on his own organic aesthetic with materials found in The Ozarks and familiar traditional forms from his home region. Jones' work focused primarily on the intimate rather than the grandiose. Jones most renowned works are chapels and private homes rather than skyscrapers.

Jones used Frank Lloyd Wright's principles and created buildings that had a distinct Wrightian feel to them. Jones' most famous buildings are the Thorncrown Chapel in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, the Mildred B. Cooper Memorial Chapel in Bella Vista, Arkansas, and the Pinecote Pavilion at the Crosby Arboretum in Picayune, Mississippi. These buildings are simple and transcendental creations of wood. Thorncrown Chapel was selected as the fourth most favored building in a poll of the membership of the American Institute of Architects. Thorncrown was also selected as the best American building built since 1980.

In addition to his remarkable buildings, Jones is also known for creating unique designs for furniture and everyday objects such as the Fulbright Peace Fountain located at the University of Arkansas main campus.

Jones is recalled as a gentle and unassuming man for whom a harsh word was completely out of character. His partner, Maurice Jennings, stated that he had worked with Jones for 25 years without an instance of emotional conflict.

Jones was a recipient of the American Institute of Architects Gold Medal in 1990. He was accepted as a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects in 1979 and as a Fellow of the American Academy of Rome in 1980.

In 1997 Jones' John B. Begley Chapel was dedicated on the campus of Lindsey Wilson College in Columbia, Ky. The Begley Chapel was Jones' first all-brick chapel.

In 1999 a retrospective of his work was produced for the Old State House Museum in Little Rock, Arkansas and is available as a traveling exhibition from the museum. The University of Arkansas also published a driving tour of many of his residences and buildings in Northwest Arkansas.

On August 31, 2004 Jones died at his home in Fayetteville at the age of 83, survived by his wife and two daughters.

As of April 3, 2009, the University of Arkansas' School of Architecture dedicated the school in Fay's honor. Due to a multi-million dollar contribution from Don and Ellen Edmondson, the school is now known as the Fay Jones School of Architecture.

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