November 8, 2001
Notes from Robert Ivy, FAIA
It is impossible to divorce the work of Fay Jones from an
Arkansas hillside. Last Friday night, we made our way up the
ridge above Fayetteville, dipping down the swales and climbing
precipitously toward the summit, then turned abruptly on East
Arlington toward the light. There, rising up into the tree
canopy, fully illuminated like a long horizontal lantern,
rose the clerestory of the Buckley House.
As in all of Fays work, the integration of pathway,
experience, site, and discovery merge with the architectural
expression. Despite the fact that I had never visited the
house during the research for my book on Jones, I had assumed
familiarity with its plan, only to be surprised by his inventiveness
once again. We parked on the street, passed along the driveway
in the dark, turning toward the walkway leading to the front
door. This turning is intentional, meant to change perception
and attitude for a building directly fronting an active street.
The interior glowed and stretched horizontally, stepping
down from a full cross pathway toward a central living space,
then out to the hillside. Spaces receded to the left and right,
offering glimpses of other levels and hinting at other places
for respose or activity. The eye could both sweep the entirety
and rest on any given object, such as the craftsmanlike lanterns
that define the entry hall and dining areas, or the expanse
of cabinetry that runs in articulated ranks along corridors.
Indirect lighting, universally employed, warmed the spaces,
illuminating the collections of pottery and the artwork with
incandescent warmth. Outside, spent leaves littered the stone
deck, softened by Fall rain, which filled the sky with mist.
I remembered how seductive and smoky this wonderful work can
be, and why I devoted years to following Joness workit
is fully engaging.
Flash forward to another promontory, further along the ridge.
A tower stands like an iconic sentinel, overlooking the valley.
Ulike the Jones work, which stretches alongside the hill,
this tower stands straight up like a tree, or a tower.
We climb up Mr. Keenans, the clients, steps,
up and up to the elevated pavilion built by Marlon Blackwell.
We removed our shoes to protect the pecan floors and gasped
at the view. Most of the guests that evening were architects,
arrayed around the room in black garb, almost as if styled
by a magazine. Up on the roof, we peeled off our socks and
stood in the puddles, soaking up the 360 degree views up toward
Springdale, filling up with light, or down toward the University.
A small American city, near its geographic center, where real
architecture reigns. Not all Architecture occurs in New York.
For information on Fay Jones, by Robert Ivy, click here.
to "From the Field"