News Release: MSU Architecture Students Recognized for Design Studio Plans that Showcase Mid‑Rise Wood Buildings


December 14, 2016

Starkville, Miss. — Using innovative wood technologies on the inside and exterior of a proposed mid-rise design studio earned architecture student Curtis Reed a $500 prize and – more importantly – an appreciation for mass-timber technologies.

“Mississippi needs a tall wood building because people need to see it. As people see these students’ designs, I believe it will draw businesses and other entities to want these kinds of buildings for themselves,” said Tedrick Ratcliff, Executive Vice President of the Mississippi Forestry Association (MFA).

The competition was facilitated by TIMB(R): Timber Innovations for Mississippi Buildings Reimagined Studio. This studio was taught by Mississippi State University (MSU) Assistant Professor of Architecture, Jacob Gines, and open to fourth-year architecture students.

Students were judged based on their design’s ability to promote MFA’s mission as well as for practicality and innovation. The projects used innovative mass-timber technologies, such as cross-laminated timber (CLT).

“It doesn’t mean the winning design will necessarily be built, but it will provide MFA an opportunity to conjure interest and investment for such a project in Mississippi. We love the idea of being able to facilitate that process,” said Jacob Gines, an Assistant Professor in the MSU School of Architecture.

TIMB(R) held a symposium that featured expert speakers in the green building field from across the country. Students also went to Oregon to be exposed to some of the most influential research and projects on mass-timber in the United States.

Funding for the TIMB(R) Studio was provided by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative® (SFI), Mississippi Forestry Foundation, and Weyerhaeuser through the SFI Conservation and Community Partnerships Grant Program. Learn more at

“The TIMB(R) Studio has garnered a lot of excitement about the possibility of mass-timber buildings in Mississippi. Through the programs and projects made possible by the SFI grant, we feel confident that these future architects are prepared to incorporate innovative wood technologies into their work,” Ratcliff said.

Additional support for the project was provided by Shuqualak Lumber, the MSU Department of Sustainable Bioproducts, the MSU College of Art, Architecture, and Design, and other private partners.

MFA’s vision is to serve as the “Voice of Forestry” in Mississippi. MFA’s mission is leading diverse groups to promote landowner rights, environmental stewardship, member prosperity, and community understanding. MFA members and staff work to accomplish the mission by conducting public affairs, communication, and education programs that will foster better understanding and appreciation of conservation, development, and use of forestland and resources. Learn more at


Pictured: Front Row from left: Jacob Gines, Omkar Prabhu, Curtis Reed, Keith Ward, Mark Power and Jarred Creel; Back Row: Anna Kendall, Ian Munn, Tedrick Ratcliff and Robby Toombs


Nick Vezinaw


Abigail Raper


Curtis Reed


Claire Sims


Ebony Batchelor


Omkar Prabhu


Rob Warlick

New studio at MSU to focus on innovative wood design





By LISA MONTI – September 29, 2016

A $10,000 grant along with matching money will fund construction of a design studio that promotes innovative wood products and building methods in Mississippi.

The $10,000 Community Partnerships grant was awarded by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative Inc., an international nonprofit that promotes responsible forest management. The Mississippi Forestry Foundation and other partners in the industry added $12,000 in a grant match for the design studio.

The design studio will be used by fourth-year undergraduate students at Mississippi State University’s School of Architecture. Called TIMB(R): Timber Innovations for Mississippi Buildings Reimagined, the studio will hold a competition in which students will design plans for a mid-rise wood structure that could become a showcase for wood building design in the state as well as provide offices for the Mississippi Forestry Association.

Jacob Gines, MSU architecture assistant professor, said, “That doesn’t mean the winning design will necessarily be built, but it will provide MFA an opportunity to conjure interest and investment for such a project. We at the MSU School of Architecture love the idea of being able to facilitate that process.”

According to Gines, the practice of “building tall with wood” was discontinued in the U.S. when international building codes began being applied to wooden frames in mid- to high-rise buildings after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.

But, he said, recent innovations in wood design technology, such as cross laminated timber where thicker wood panels run perpendicular throughout the structures’ frames, are renewing interest in taller wood construction that result in better fire ratings.

“These highly engineered wood products allow us to increase the strength and span properties of wood, so we can build higher while addressing life safety issues,” Gines said.
Interest in wood-frame construction is gaining favor around the country, and the new wood innovations are gaining momentum in Europe, the Northwest and Canada. Right now, the interest doesn’t extend to the Southeast, but by using the new wood building technologies in Mississippi, Gines said, the state could take the lead in promoting wood frame construction for mid-rise structures. It would also help Mississippi’s economy, where 64 percent of the state land is forested.

And since timber is a renewable resource, the wood construction is also found to be environmentally friendly.

Architecture students have already done some research into the use of high-performance wood construction, according to MSU. Last year they designed a 20-story wood building for an urban Manhattan setting and worked with MSU’s Department of Sustainable Bioproducts to learn more about the process.

Such training and research by the students is ultimately good for the timber industry, one of the state’s most abundance resources, said Tedrick Ratcliff, MFA executive director. It doesn’t matter if the studio designed for the competition is ever built.

“As soon as the first student puts pen to paper on one of these design proposals, people will have the opportunity to see the potential in this kind of construction,” Ratcliff said. “Mississippi needs one of these buildings because people need to see it. And as people see these students’ designs, I believe it will draw businesses and other entities to want those kinds of buildings for themselves.”

Gines has been spreading the word about the research to investors and forestry industry stakeholders.

“This is just the beginning,” he said. “We are hoping to do some incredible things in the future as we join forces with industry and university partners.”

Original article found here.


Courtesy of Christie McNeal / Mississippi State University Kirby L. Lockard, a Mississippi State senior architecture major from Decatur, Ala., discusses design ideas for a solid-timber, mid-rise tower in Manhattan, New York. She and other four-year architecture students completed the project as part of a fall 2015 wood-based design studio course taught by Assistant Professor Jacob A. Gines.

Alpha Rho Chi – Professional Workshop Speaker

Networking Relationships

Alpha Rho Chi, Professional Workshop Series

A couple nights ago I had the opportunity to speak with our local Alpha Rho Chi fraternal chapter members about Networking – actually, I really talked about relationships. This gave me the chance to reflect on my own experiences and lessons learned throughout the years. I had a great time with them and thought I’d share some of the conversation points with you.

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Corten House in design development

Corten House

Starkville, MS

The Corten House is a remodel and addition to an existing guesthouse located on a sloping 8 acre site in Starkville, MS. The existing guesthouse has a footprint of 20’x24′, is raised on piers, has deep overhangs, and a traditional southern porch. The design strategy is to preserve the ‘bones’ and remove the ‘skin’, double the footprint, and re-clad the exterior with a single material, corten steel. The interior planning strategy is based on an 8′ module and references the free plan of Mies’ Farnsworth House and Johnson’s Glass House. The house is targeted for LEED Gold certification, and features a green roof, rain garden, and passive cooling strategies. Anticipated construction to begin Spring 2016.

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Abstract Accepted: 6th International Conference on the Constructed Environment (ICCE)

Sustainable Futures: Solid Timber Applications in Mid-Rise Construction

April 2-4, 2016 – University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ

Recent advancements in Solid Timber technology and construction practices provide new opportunities that challenge current height restrictions for wood buildings and reimagine the materiality, sustainability, and aesthetics of contemporary building.  The development of Glued Laminated and Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) systems are bringing about a fundamental paradigm shift in the architecture and construction industry. These technologies are providing innovative solutions to standardized construction practices and challenging out-of-date building codes in relation to height limitations due to a building’s primary structural system and building type. Another fundamental argument for tall timber / solid timber buildings is environmental. Tall wood buildings have a smaller carbon footprint when compared to similar buildings constructed of steel or concrete and operate as “stores” for massive amounts of CO2. Laminated timber systems are also lightweight relative to their strength and thus prove to be viable solutions for mid-rise development. This study examines the history and future potentials of solid timber construction and identifies the ongoing challenges that face the industry from supply chain to architectural and construction applications.

MSU/MFF team awarded $10k SFI Conservation & Community Partnership Grant

TIMB(R): Timber Innovations for Mississippi Buildings Reimagined

February 11, 2016 – Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI Inc.)

Mississippi State University School of Architecture Assistant Professor, Jacob Gines, and the Mississippi Forestry Foundation (Tedrick Ratcliff, Exec. Dir.) were recently awarded a $10k SFI Conservation & Community Partnership grant for their proposal – TIMB(R): Timber Innovation for Mississippi Buildings Reimagined. This grant is coupled with $12k matching funds from forestry industry partner Plumb Creek, MFA, and others.

Official Press Release from SFI Inc.


WASHINGTON, DC and OTTAWA, ON — Grants were announced today for 19 projects to help further understanding of the conservation benefits of managed forests, and to strengthen the connection between communities and forests. The grants were made as part of the Sustainable Forestry Initiative Inc.’s Conservation and Community Partnership Grants Program. These grants represent collaborations between SFI Inc., SFI Program Participants, and partner organizations throughout North America.

“Our conservation grants advance SFI’s long-standing commitment to forest research. These projects provide the science-based data that resource professionals need to improve forest management, and to assess the value of that work,” said Kathy Abusow, President and CEO of SFI Inc. “Our community grants represent SFI’s unique role at the intersection of sustainable forestry, responsible procurement and thriving communities. SFI engages local communities through a variety of initiatives including youth outreach, forest education programs, and green building projects for low income families”

This year’s suite of SFI Conservation Grants helps focus on the connection between sustainable supply chains and the natural resource values we all care about, like water quality, biodiversity, wildlife habitat, species at risk, and forests with exceptional conservation value. These projects are a joint effort by the grantees, SFI Inc., and SFI Program Participants, who manage more than a quarter billion acres/100 million hectares of forest across North America and source fiber from millions more.

The Mississippi Forestry Foundation will facilitate a course where Mississippi State University architecture students design a state-of-the-art wood building that links sustainable forest management to green building practices.

TIMB(R) Project Details

The state of Mississippi contains approximately 19.8 million acres of forested land, which accounts for 64 percent of Mississippi’s total area. The value of timber harvesting in Mississippi has averaged in excess of $1 billion per year over the past 20 years and accounts for over 70,000 jobs in the state. The promoting of sustainable forest management, reforestation after harvest, and keeping forests productive have strategic long-term benefits for Mississippi. In addition, the continued development of manufacturing processes utilizing innovative technologies to generate competitive timber product solutions is of critical importance to the Mississippi Forestry Association/Foundation (MFA/MFF), Mississippi State University (MSU), and local/regional architects and builders. In an effort to promote the use of existing and emerging timber products, MFA/MFF along with the MSU School of Architecture and MSU Department of Sustainable Bioproducts has teamed up to establish an architecture design studio class focused on designing buildings with certified wood products. The buildings designed by the architecture students will be a demonstration of innovative solid-timber construction in the mid-rise commercial marketplace. The proposals could be used to promote any future construction of an office building for the Mississippi Forestry Association; which would serve as a hub for community and professional outreach as well as a showcase for building with certified wood. Three major activities will take place throughout 2016 to further develop and promote the proposed project.

Architecture Design Studio

A senior level architectural design studio (ARC 4536 Arch Design, 6 credit hours) at the MSU School of Architecture will work collaboratively with MFA/MFF and the MSU Department of Sustainable Bioproducts to plan and design a, first of its kind in the US South, wood based multi-story commercial office building. This process will include a site visit to Jackson, MS to analyze and document a proposed building site, a meeting with MFA board members and project steering committee, a workshop to determine the project’s “vision and goals”, and meet with forest product partners. Throughout the 5-month design and development process students will also engage other industry professionals, conduct related building construction research, and produce drawings, renderings, and models that communicate a series of design proposals. The design work conducted by the studio will be on public display for feedback and will be exhibited in venues throughout the state.

Professional and Community Workshop

Forest product professionals, timberland owners, architects, engineers, constructors, educators, researchers, manufacturers, and public officials will be invited to attend a Professional and Community Workshop dedicated to promoting timber use and innovative building applications. The workshop will include several “wood talks” (15 minute presentations), hands-on interdisciplinary group exercises/activities, and keynote talks from national/international industry professionals that are engaged in the design and construction of today’s most innovative and sustainable buildings.

TIMBR flier

Design Studio Explores Tall Timber Building in New York

Scaffolding + Skin: An exploration in tall-timber / mid-rise architecture

Fall 2015 – Architecture Design IV-A

This studio examines the role of tectonics in contemporary architecture – primarily focusing on scaffolding and skin. Students engaged this topic from a historic perspective by researching the significance and varied application of these tectonic manifestations through an introduction to some tectonic theory and precedent. The scholarly study of the tekton (carpenter or builder) and the discourse surrounding the notion of tectonics received much attention throughout the late 1800’s and continues to exist as a critical endeavor today. It can be argued that at the heart of tectonic inquiry is the idea and application of poesis, ‘to make’. This constructed attitude guides students to express their research through a series of iterative analog and digital exercises – expressing their notions and understandings of contemporary tectonics.

The history of contemporary architecture is inevitably multiple, multifarious even; a history of the structures that form the human environment independently of architecture itself; a history of the attempts to control and direct those structures; a history of the intellectuals who have sought to devise policies and methods for those attempts; a history of new languages which, having abandoned all hope of arriving at absolute and definitive words, have striven to delimit the area of their particular contribution.

Kenneth Frampton, Studies in Tectonic Culture

Each of the proposals utilize heavy timber and/or engineered wood construction in innovative and experimental ways to develop a proposal for a tall wood building (15-20 stories) in Midtown Manhattan at 104 West 57th Street. Students gained a greater understanding of the following benefits of wood utilization in tall/solid timber buildings, among others.

• Renewable natural resource

• Reduction of carbon emissions

• Carbon sequestering / carbon sink

• Expedited erection schedules – 20%±

• Reduction of overall project costs – 4%±

• Innovative applications

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Keynote speaker at Resource Management Service (RMS) annual meeting

Solid Timber – Tall Wood: The New Marketplace

November 3, 2015 – Seaside, FL

Assistant Professor Jacob Gines recently spoke at the Resource Management Service (RMS) annual meeting on the topic of timber product resources, potential supply chains for the southeast region of the U.S., and the future of tall wood buildings in North America.  Gines also highlighted the work of his recent design studio at Mississippi State University that has been exploring the realities of solid timber – tall wood buildings. His students proposals are for a mid-rise (15-20 story) building in Manhattan, NY and incorporate innovative timber technologies such as Cross Laminated Timber (CLT).

Founded in 1950, Resource Management Service, LLC (RMS) is a global timberland investment firm based in Birmingham, Alabama. RMS serves public pension funds, endowments, foundations, insurance companies, and family offices. They’re a registered investment advisor with $4.2 billion of assets under management in the southern U.S., Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, and China.  RMS specializes in timberland and is often referred to as a TIMO (Timberland Investment Management Organization).

timber tower


Keynote speaker at Mississippi Forestry Association (MFA) annual meeting

Learning from the Past to Create More Sustainable Futures: A Case for Building with Wood

October 21, 2015 – Starkville, MS

Assistant Professor Jacob Gines recently spoke at the Mississippi Forestry Association (MFA) annual meeting highlighting a rich and vibrant history of building wood structures, in particular tall timber constructions. Gines challenged the audience to “Know the Time-line” of timber product development/use and proposed a trajectory of innovative solid timber application. Several sustainable attributes of wood construction were discussed including carbon sequestration, low embodied energy, cost efficiency, timber certifications, habitat maintenance/creation, etc… Gines’ talk featured the work of Shigeru Ban Architects (Tamedia Office, Switzerland), Brendeland & Kristofferson Arkitekter (Svartlamoen Housing, Norway), and Michael Green Architects (Wood Innovation and Design Center, Canada).

Gines also highlighted the work of his recent design studio at Mississippi State University that has been exploring the realities of solid timber – tall wood buildings. His students proposals are for a mid-rise (15-20 story) building in Manhattan, NY and incorporate innovative timber technologies such as Cross Laminated Timber (CLT).

MFA’s Vision is to serve as the “Voice of Forestry” in Mississippi. The MFA Mission is leading diverse groups to promote landowner rights, environmental stewardship, member prosperity, and community understanding. MFA members and staff work to accomplish this Mission by conducting public affairs, communication, and education programs that foster better understanding and appreciation of conservation, development, and use of forestland and resources.

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Presentation: 2015 Building Technology Educators’ Society

Comparative Curricular Adjacencies in Material Education

June 24-27, 2015 – University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT

Curriculum development for any course should never be static. This is particularly true in courses whose deliverable content can be so heavily influenced by changing trends, new products, material innovations, emerging technology, or advanced building systems. While the content is paramount, it is the course structure and delivery method that can most influence and predict the effectiveness of teaching and subsequent learning outcomes.

This poster provides a year-by-year and side-by-side graphic analysis of a Materials course from the past three years. The evolution of the course is thus represented utilizing various methods and key indicators for thoughtful analysis and reflection. First, is a chronological graph depicting the number of class periods provided throughout the semester with their assigned course content area (i.e. Lecture, Presentation, Field Trip, Test, Workshop, and Open Lab) and their linear adjacencies. Also included are the assignment durations, as related to the patterned layout of course content areas. Second, with an understanding that lecture-based instruction results in 20% or less retention of information, a proportional diagram of lecture to other activities is provided. Third, course content areas are described as a percentage of the division of all activities provided. Next, content areas are proportionally divided based on their most commonly associated activity relationships – Dissemination Activities, Application Activities, and Assessment Activities. Lastly, content areas are categorized based on their Passive, Semi-Passive, or Active learning environments.

The outcome of the analysis of these courses demonstrates a moving towards a ‘Scaffolding’ instructional model, wherein the teaching or peer (the More Knowledgeable Other (MKO) as defined by Lev Vygotsky) provides assistance dependent on the level needed to support learning. As responsibility is taken or tasked are mastered the MKO begins the process of ‘fading’, or the gradual removal of supportive scaffolding. Thus enabling the learner to work independently.

“Scaffolding is actually a bridge used to build upon what students already know to arrive at something they do not know. If scaffolding is properly administered, it will act as an enabler, not a disabler”

Benson, B. (1997). Scaffolding (Coming to Terms). English Journal, 86(7), 126-127.

Poster_PDF_Comparative Curricular Adjacencies in Material Education