The Thorncrown Chapel in Arizona is worth a special pilgrimage, says Chris Johnson, but a classic example of eighties City architecture should be sent for recycling

My wonder is the Thorncrown Chapel in Eureka Springs, Arizona. It inspired me as a student and I knew that this building was a pilgrimage that I had to take – every architect has one inside them. So, on my first trip to America, finding myself three states and only 500 miles away, I decided to take the opportunity … and it didn’t disappoint.

Thorncrown Chapel, by E Fay Jones

Thorncrown Chapel, designed by E Fay Jones, is a glass and timber chapel in the Ozark Hills, Arkansas. It was built in 1980 on land belonging to Jim Reed, a retired school teacher, who decided to forego his retirement home for a chapel where people could feel close to God – and nature.

I’m not a particularly religious person but after the long and exhausting drive all I can sayis that the place was truly uplifting, and when a building can create that feeling, you know it truly works.

E Fay Jones’ craft is immediately evident; the wooden structure contains 425 windows, and more than 6,000ft2 of glass sits on 100 tonnes of native and coloured flagstone. But it is its affinity and connection with nature that hits you.

The skill of the architecture is beyond question – the organic materials reflect the setting while the light and shadows constantly change. It is more like a place than a building.

Beaufort House on St Botolph Street

The 13-floor Beaufort House on St Botolph Street in the City of London was designed by RHWL Architects and completed in 1988. A main feature of the building is the 60ft-high marble-clad entrance lobby atrium with adjacent reception area and lift lobbies. The design required eight types of marble and two types of granite, sourced from eight different countries.

As for my blunder, it’s all those eighties corporate buildings with grey and pink granite facades and green aluminium window frames.

The City of London absorbed so many different buildings using the same palette and it’s probably now time for a touch of recladding.

Beaufort House is a classic example. It has good floor heights but the opportunity to recycle in the true green spirit should not be missed. Let’s be sustainable and reuse, renew and recycle those beasts of the eighties.

Chris Johnson, managing principal of Gensler in Europe, the Middle East and Asia