Ed Jackson died on February 14th. Ed was one of the best designers to practice in our region. Of his works, the one that stands out in my mind is the Sanctuary of Grace First Presbyterian Church in Weatherford. It has an asymmetrical volume with low windows along a planter on one side and a slotted window that washes the wall behind the altar with dramatic light.
I had the privilege of working with Ed for a couple years shortly before he retired. I was assigned to work for him on a project that was in the final stages of design. He had been working on the project for some time and I helped him complete the design and detailing. It was a great experience. We discussed the concept of the building, its response to the trees, the hill, and the relationship of the materials to each other, as we worked to flesh out the design and details. In our discussions we decided that the steel shouldn’t “sit on the stone, but pierce it. The stone was a veneer, a natural material that had its own texture and innate beauty, but the steel was fabricated, rigid, its beauty came from its power, its trust, its lines and its profiles. As I remember it ,the only real contribution I made to the design was the rectangular plate and sloped columns at the porches (and the fountain in the front, that never got built) the rest I drafted from Ed’s drawings. He always insisted I had more to do with the success of the project than that, but I was never convinced. When the project won a design award the next year, he insisted that it have my name listed as a designer. Which made this the first project award to have my name listed that way.
This is the only project I worked on with Ed, and was probably the last major project he completed before retiring. The time I spent with Ed made a lasting impact on me. He was very generous with his time, complimentary, and took time to listen to some kid that was assigned to work with him. I’m sure I showed a lack of respect in questioning decisions and suggesting ideas on a project he had spent years developing and thinking about. Yet, the questions were met with inquisitive discussions, and the ideas were often embraced and explored . He repeatedly told me that I was unique, a talented designer that needed to design. That I need to find ways to design, free of the firm. He told me I should start my own practice ( this was 10 years ago). I remember asking him, how I would get any clients. He told me “Go to church, that’s how I found mine”. In many ways when I think of an architect model, I think of Ed Jackson. And there is no doubt, that those seeds he planted bore fruit later. To design anything, to put an idea out there for scrutiny takes confidence, which must be born from encouragement, reassurance and respect, of which Ed gave me more than I probably deserved.
I attended his memorial service today. It was in the building we worked on together. The Doss Heritage and Cultural Center of Parker County.