E. Fay Jones and his Ethereal Pinecote Pavilion

The Crosby Botanic Arboretum contains a Mississippi Landmark, as designated by the Department of Archives and History of Mississippi.

It is a 'symmetrical shed' (as described by its designer) that is set upon on a base of brick, surrounded by trees and facing out to a still lake.  It is called the Pinecote Pavilion and was designed by the Arkansas architect, E. Fay Jones in 1987. He was a master in the true sense of the word. He died in 2004.

Jones' Pavilion is an inspired piece of architecture.... Imagine being asked to design a open air garden pavilion for an arboretum in Mississippi, and instead of the normal gazebo or pergola, you take it upon yourself to design a soaring, captivating open air structure that seems to float on the water. In a way, it is very much like the ancient Golden Pavilion  of Kyoto (Kinkaku-ji).

But the true inspiration was 'a higher order' as Jones described in a radio interview in 1994,

"I like to think of myself as being concerned with a higher order of things and probably the clearest manifestation we have of some higher order in the universe is what we see in nature and what we feel in nature." ~ (E. Fay Jones)
Jones described his Pinecote masterpiece this way :

"The Pavilion is a gathering place. This simple, open building ...is a starting point for nature walks, for talks and discussions about important things in the environment and natural world, a place for exhibits and artistic performance, and a setting for social gatherings."

It is designed for discussions on important things in the environment and natural world. I like that.

He goes on  to say:

 "The all-wood structure is built of indigenous material, native pine, and is fastened together with nails, dowels, and metal connections. There is complete exposure of every construction element, all visible from within and without. Every framing member, every beam, brace, and connection is absolutely necessary to achieve structural stability."

It is sustainable! I hope they rebuild this Pavilion every 20 years like they do with the Ise Shrine. That way it will stand forever.

"The building is ordered by a geometric theme —....to build a strong relationship of each part to the whole and to achieve organic unity....This is analogous to the organic unfolding or blossoming of so many forms of botanical growth. The imbricated pattern of wood shingles also emulate and recall many of natures’ surfaces—the bark of trees and the wings of birds. "

A building that looks to the growth of trees for inspiration....Very wonderful.

"...decorative enrichment will come from the ever-changing patterns of light and shadows that play on the closely-spaced structural elements as the sun and moon move across the sky. Time of day and seasonal changes will modify the shadows that frame the light and will keep the spaces in and around the Pavilion vital and alive, continuously enhancing the poetics of revealed construction."

A building in tune with the sun and moon as they 'move across the sky'. Amen.

Mississippi Preservation


  1. One of my favorite works of architecture.

  2. This is one one of my favorite pieces of architecture by one of my favorite architects. Fay Jones was and incredible American architect--a treasure. I only wish I coulsd have met him before he died. This structure is so simple but complex and elegantly fits its landscape.

  3. I think this might have been a typo, but it makes a huge difference! Fay Jones actually described the pavilion as "a symmetrical shed", not "asymmetrical". It's described in the first sentence of the second paragraph.


  4. Thank You! I just corrected it! I should have realized that....

  5. FYI, they're going to restore the structure.


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