E. Fay Jones, 83, a student of architect Frank Lloyd Wright's who built his career on the subtle interaction between his buildings and nature, and whose Thorncrown Chapel was honored as the nation's top design in the 1980s, died Aug. 30 at his home in Fayetteville, Ark. He had Parkinson's disease.
Thorncrown Chapel, which rises from the woods near Eureka Springs in northwestern Arkansas, was arguably Mr. Jones's most acclaimed work. The chapel was honored as the American Institute of Architecture's Design of the Decade, topping the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and New York's World Financial Center.
Mr. Jones designed 135 residences and 15 chapels and churches, and his work can be found in 20 states. He also created fountains, gardens and commercial buildings, and published 32 books.
Mr. Jones's work was grounded on Wright's principles of organic architecture: the critical relationship of the building and the site, the use of natural materials and the relationship of each part to the whole.
In an interview with the Associated Press in March, he said he designed homes to make living in the space feel special.
"You like to think man and nature plan and merge everything to mutual benefit, not an obvious style," he said in an interview at his home, which he designed for his family in 1956. "You try to use a natural thing to enhance the thing you place there. You try to have living there be special."
Visitors must take a stone path to visit the 48-foot-tall Thorncrown Chapel. Mr. Jones would visit, too, anonymously, and watch people interact with the work, which the American Institute of Architecture declared architecture's fourth-greatest achievement of the 20th century. Only materials that men could carry along a narrow path were used to build the glass-and-wood chapel.
The chapel shared a trait with homes designed by Mr. Jones: Visitors seeking spiritual solitude inside the chapel were left to wonder if they were still outside. With its 6,000 panes of glass forming 425 windows, Thorncrown has attracted 4 million visitors since it opened in 1980. Weddings there are booked more than a year in advance.
Euine Fay Jones, a native Arkansan, studied engineering before flying planes for the Navy in the Pacific during World War II. He came home in 1945 and was the first student to sign up for architecture at the University of Arkansas, graduating in the department's first class in 1950.
He taught and studied at the University of Oklahoma and Rice University and studied at Wright's Taliesin compound in Wisconsin. Mr. Jones also received the American Academy's Rome Prize for artists, which allowed him to study in Europe.
Survivors include his wife of 61 years, Gus; and two daughters.