Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Thorncrown Chapel ~ Ozark Gothic ~ models & drawings ~ "cathedral builder"

See more below: "Students who need additional drawings of Thorncrown Chapel by E. Fay Jones for models and other projects may contact the Arkansas Architectural Archives at the University of Arkansas through the web pages above."

1980 AIA Award


Thorncrown Chapel was designed by world renowned architect E. Fay Jones. Fay was born in Pine Bluff, Arkansas in 1921. He studied at the University of Arkansas, Rice University, the University of Oklahoma, and finally under his mentor Frank Lloyd Wright at the Taliesin Fellowship.
Jones’ awards include the 1981 American Institute of Architects National Honor Award for Thorncrown Chapel and the AIA Gold Medal (1990). Thorncrown was listed fourth on the AIA’s top ten buildings of the 20th century. When alive, Mr. Jones was recognized as one of the top ten living architects of the 20th century.

The inspiration for Thorncrown Chapel was Sainte Chappelle, Paris’ light filled gothic chapel. Fay affectionately labeled Thorncrown’s style as “Ozark Gothic.” 

The chapel rises 48 feet into the sky with over 6,000 square feet of glass and 425 windows. Its dimensions are 24 feet by 60 feet. The chapel is made with all organic materials to fit its natural setting. The only steel in the structure forms a diamond shaped pattern in its wooden trusses. The building has a native flagstone floor surrounded with a rock wall which gives the feeling that the chapel is part of its Ozark hillside.

In order to preserve Thorncrown’s natural setting, Fay decided that no structural element could be larger than what two men could carry through the woods. The building materials are primarily pressure treated pine 2x4s, 2x6s, and 2x12s. The larger elements of the building such as the trusses were assembled on the floor and raised into place.

Light, shadows, and reflections play a major role in Thorncrown’s ambience. Because of the chapel’s elaborate trusses and the surrounding trees, constantly changing patterns of light and shadows appear during the day. At night reflections of the crosses in the lights appear to surround the entire building. Consequently, Thorncrown never looks quite the same. Its appearance changes during each hour of the day and during the different seasons of the year.

For those researching Thorncrown Chapel or Fay Jones, we recommend the following resources:

"Fay Jones" by Robert Ivy Jr. AIA Press
"Outside the Pale: The Architecture of Fay Jones" by Dept. of Arkansas Heritage

"Sacred Spaces: The Architecture of Fay Jones" by Larry Foley

See YouTube intro: 

Faculty Documentary '10 - "Sacred Spaces: The Architecture of Fay Jones

Architectural Review, July 1981
Architectural Record, March 1981
AIA Journal, May 1981

For pictures of Thorncrown Chapel while under construction and detailed drawings:

The Fay Jones Collection Thorncrown Gallery

For information about Fay Jones and Thorncrown Chapel:
Fay Jones Collection at the Arkansas Architectural Archives 

Students who need additional drawings of Thorncrown Chapel for models and other projects may contact the Arkansas Architectural Archives at the University of Arkansas through the web pages above.

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Wonderful 360 view of Thorncrown Chapel: 

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How to build Thorncrown Chapel

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More on YouTube:

Thorncrown Chapel Reproduction

E. Fay Jones - Outside the Pale

Fay Jones, "Cathedral builder born 500 years too late"

My comments on YouTube:

This is such a fascinating structure... so similar to a covered bridge yet with views open to elements and surrounded by the natural beauty all around.
 That has to be part of the magical mystery of this place. The geometry of this structure reminds me of something so close to home, like a bee-hive buzzing, but silent and contained. What is it about this particular geometric shape and form? It seems like "the essence of life." What makes it "sacred" in all aspects of it's creation and construction? For it surely is...

Fay Jones says he was a "cathedral builder born 500 years too late." I agree! His incredible inspiration comes from Sainte Chapelle, one of the most beautiful small cathedrals in Paris that is overwhelming in it's simplicity and beauty, as is Jone's architectural work. "Transcendental Feeling and Mystery" accurately describes his work.

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Thorncrown Chapel Receives a Sound Renovation

At 48-ft. tall with 6,000 sq. ft. of glass and a flagstone floor, the Thorncrown Chapel was “an acoustical nightmare.”
Posted in projects on February 20, 2014 1:07 pm EST

Thorncrown Chapel Receives a Sound Renovation

At 48-ft. tall with 6,000 sq. ft. of glass and a flagstone floor, the Thorncrown Chapel was “an acoustical nightmare.”
Thorncrown Chapel, in Eureka Springs, Ark., comes in fourth on the American Institute of Architecture’s top designs of the 20th century. It has 425 windows and more than 6,000 square feet of glass. Image courtesy of Thorncrown Chapel.

Important solution for sound in this chapel:

excerpt: "Bose brought the Tulsa, Okla., office of dealer and integrator FBP Systems onto the project. “This a challenging project in many ways, and not just acoustically,” says Mark Labouff, national sales manager for FBP Systems. “This is also an architecturally and historically significant building, so a lot of care had to be taken in installing a sound system. The space’s architect had designed millwork to hide speakers when the building was first built.

In order to maintain the historical integrity of the building, we needed a speaker system that would fit inside the original millwork, and the MA12EX modules were the right size; they are actually hidden behind grille cloth that spans the front of the millwork. In addition, because of where the millwork is located, the speakers had to be placed behind the pulpit microphones. That creates an enormous potential for feedback. But with the MA12EX loudspeakers, it was no problem. And the slim column enclosure blends with almost any décor, and that addressed the aesthetics. The MA12EX loudspeakers are resistant to feedback, and have such tight pattern control that I can’t imagine any other product could work in that space.”

Reed realized he had finally found the solution that had eluded the chapel for so long. “When I first heard the system, I could hardly believe my ears. I could understand every word, even at the back of an empty chapel. We were thrilled, but the best testimony comes from the tens of thousands of people who have listened to the talks and sermons we give at Thorncrown—not one complaint about not being able to hear. That says it all.”
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