Despang kicks off Harrison Lecture Series

September 4th, 2012 Comments Off on Despang kicks off Harrison Lecture Series

Martin Despang just recently took a position at the University of Hawaii at Manoa as a tenured associate professor. Even though the German native had only been at the university for about two weeks, Despang still agreed to make the trip to Mississippi State to present a lecture on Aug. 31 as part of the annual Harrison Lecture Series made possible by a generous donation by Robert V. M. Harrison, FAIA, FCSI and Freda Wallace Harrison.

Before beginning his discussion about the Culture of Craft, Despang thanked Michael Berk, director of the School of Architecture, and others for the southern hospitality he has received and set the mood by putting on a lei with his home colors of the German flag.

Despang talked about his background and what influenced his career today.  He grew up in Hanover, Germany, and he said his childhood playground was a roof terrace because his home had no front or backyard.

While in his teens, the young Despang heard about the U.S. and received a scholarship to study at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.

Despang explained some of the projects he has worked on as an architect, the many awards his projects have won, the reasons behind the successes and even some hard lessons learned along the way.

The professor had a chance earlier in the day to talk with students about a project they are working on for the Brasfield & Gorrie competition.  Students from cross disciplines are collaborating on a project to redesign MSU’s Aiken Village Family Housing into a new “eco-village” for student housing.  Despang said much of the success of his buildings comes from this integrated project delivery idea that leads to a well-built building.

Despang also discussed how many of his clients either have no money or pretend to have no money.  For this reason, he makes sure that every component he puts into a design has several reasons.

“If a client wants to get rid of it for one reason, I have four more [reasons to keep it],” he said.

The architect then discussed how he often wins low-bid jobs through his relationships with suppliers.

“Making them an integral part of the project is key,” he said, going on to explain how important it is to have suppliers and structural engineers involved in a design even at the beginning.

Other important topics Despang discussed were sustainability, building performance and prefabrication.

He said so many people have influenced his work, including past students and mentors.

A mentor from North Carolina once told him, “Sustainability should be like gravity – you deal with it no matter what,” he said, and he tries to always apply that advice in his work.

At the University of Hawaii, Despang will work on a model for curriculum and the goal of building 10 houses in 10 years.

After the lecture, Despang mingled with students, faculty and other visitors at a reception organized by Tau Sigma Delta.


Don’t miss the next Harrison Series Lecture on September 14.  William Massie, architect in residence at Cranbrook Academy of Art, will present The Culture of Craft at 4 p.m. in the Robert and Freda Harrison Auditorium in Giles Hall.  A reception will follow.



Heritage Museum project in Starkville Daily News

September 4th, 2012 Comments Off on Heritage Museum project in Starkville Daily News

Students in the School of Architecture, Building Construction Science and Interior Design programs worked with students  in Landscape Architecture and Landscape Contracting on the project for the Oktibbeha County Heritage Museum.

Read the article that was in the Starkville Daily News on Aug. 26, 2012!

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