Mississippi State University’s College of Architecture, Art and Design is paving the way nationally when it comes to collaboration between the fields of construction and architecture.
In the fall, CAAD’s second-year architecture and building construction science studios come together to form a joint Collaborative Studio, where students are challenged to bring knowledge from their two disciplines together.
Assistant Professor of architecture Emily McGlohn, coordinator for the studio, explained that buildings are becoming more and more complex and require construction and architecture professionals to work together – what is referred to in the industry as Integrated Project Delivery (IPD).
“The students are learning the earlier the constructors and architects come together in the design process, the better the building will be and the less headaches they will encounter along the way.”
Each year, students in this studio are challenged to work together to design and construct a full-scale product from start to finish for a real client. Last year’s fall Collaborative Studio constructed two bus shelters for the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians. This year, students are working on two lighting shelters for the MSU Golf Course.
“Every class gets a chance to do a project like this,” said Associate Professor of architecture Hans Herrmann. “That’s rare,” he said, going on to explain how important hands-on learning is for students. “The reality of making is different from drawing. Gravity becomes a reality for them,” he laughed.
And the students have, in fact, dealt with their fair share of challenges, both with learning how to work together and actually building something they have designed.
“This is a pretty intense, hands-on learning experience for them,” said building construction science instructor Lee Carson, who said that students are learning “the idea of drawing with materials.”
This year’s project includes two separate shelters with restrooms for the golf course – one with cypress wall panels as an exterior skin and the other with a concrete skin. Both facilities will have cisterns to capture rainwater that will be used to flush the toilets.
After working on individual, small-scale designs, the 49 students split into four teams to tackle designing and building the two facilities in pieces – a wood wall panel team, a concrete wall panel team, a roof truss team and a concrete wall cistern team. This teamwork has allowed for a peer-review atmosphere, which has resulted in improved quality of design and construction.
“The students’ work has continued to impress us,” said Bill Broyles, interim vice for student affairs, who has been consulting with the group from the start.
Construction began on site with the pouring of the foundation in late September. Students are currently working on the formwork for the cistern wall while the other teams are fabricating their components off site. Construction on both buildings is set to be finished by the end of the month.
The project will wrap up with a final review on Dec. 1, where students will explain the design and construction process. A ribbon cutting ceremony and reception – open to the MSU community – will be held on the golf course in the spring.
“The students are really excited to have an investment on campus,” said Herrmann. “And we are grateful to have a project to work on,” added Michael Berk, F.L. Crane Professor and director of the School of Architecture.
According to Jim West, the college’s dean, CAAD is the only college in the country where the entire group of construction and architecture students from one year-level come together in a joint studio.
“MSU is truly reframing innovative architecture and construction education,” said the new director of the Building Construction Science Program Craig Capano, Ph.D., and Roy Anderson Professor.
“For our students, the idea of IPD and project collaboration is going to be a familiar concept,” added Berk.
“And we are setting a standard we feel will be modeled in the years to come across the country,” finished West.