Booneville junior at MSU receives $20,000 architecture travel award

June 10th, 2016 Comments Off on Booneville junior at MSU receives $20,000 architecture travel award

A Mississippi State junior is among the first four students at southeastern architecture schools to receive the newly endowed Aydelott Travel Award.

Lara Lynn Waddell, a graduate of Booneville High School and daughter of George and Julie Waddell from Marietta, has been awarded $20,000 to travel and research four unique buildings she believes possess qualities that rank them among the best in the world.

(photo by Russ Houston / © Mississippi State University)

(photo by Russ Houston / © Mississippi State University)

“I cannot think of a more deserving student,” said School of Architecture Director and F.L Crane Endowed Professor Michael Berk. “The intensity, discipline and rigor of Lara Lynn’s studio and coursework is unparalleled. Her submission proposal for the Aydelott fellowship had the maturity and gravity of a professional historian.”

The $2.4 million endowment – established by the late Alfred Lewis Aydelott and his wife, Hope Galloway Aydelott – provides an award each year to four architecture students currently enrolled in the professional architecture degree programs at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville; Auburn University; Mississippi State University; and the University of Tennessee.

“The Aydelott Travel Award offers a student an opportunity that can and should change the trajectory of their architectural career,” said MSU College of Architecture, Art and Design Dean Jim West.

Waddell agrees and credits assistant professor of architecture Zulaikha Ayub for starting her on that path.

It was in Ayub’s studio where Waddell first discovered her interest in brick buildings.

“We studied proportions and how it relates to the human body,” she said, explaining what sparked that curiosity and led to helping her choose her top buildings for the Aydelott Award.

Waddell’s buildings include:

—The Church of Cristo Obrero designed by Eladio Dieste located in Atlantida, Uruguay;

—Casa Baldi by Paolo Portoghesi in Rome, Italy;

—Muuratsalo Experimental House by Alvar Aalto in Muuratsalo, Jyvaskyla, Finland; and

—National Arts Schools Cuba by Ricardo Porro, Roberto Gottardi and Vittorio Garatti in Havana, Cuba.

Waddell is traveling to each of these locales this summer to study the buildings first-hand and conduct interviews for her research.

“This award enables students to research, visit, study and comprehend four visionary pieces of architecture in a way never available to them before. I look forward to observing a true transformation in the recipients of this award,” West said.

Waddell will return to MSU in the fall to work with her faculty adviser, Professor Emeritus Michael Fazio, to compile her research and observations into a report to be judged against her fellow Aydelott Travel Award recipients. One student will receive the Aydelott Prize and an additional $5,000.

“Dr. Fazio already has been such a great help through this process because he has so much knowledge in the architectural field. I have gained a new friend and lifelong mentor and look forward to the opportunities this experience is going to bring,” Waddell said.

For more information about the Aydelott Travel Award at Mississippi State, visit

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Read more about the award.

See the story at

CAAD holds alumni reunion in Philadelphia

June 2nd, 2016 Comments Off on CAAD holds alumni reunion in Philadelphia

(Photos submitted by Keith Bush, S|ARC Class of 1987)

The Mississippi State University College of Architecture, Art and Design hosted an alumni reunion and reception on Thurs., May 19, 2016, in Philadelphia, PA.

Held at the Philadelphia Marriott Downtown and coinciding with the 2016 AIA Convention, the informal gathering was a time for CAAD alumni, friends and family to re-connect, visit and network as well as get updates on what is currently happening within the college.

Carl Small Town Center director to co-teach workshop at UNC

June 2nd, 2016 Comments Off on Carl Small Town Center director to co-teach workshop at UNC

John Poros (Photo by Megan Bean)

John Poros (Photo by Megan Bean)

Upcoming STRIDE Workshop Introduce Planning Tools for Linking Rural Development and Transportation


Dr. Brian J. Morton of UNC-Chapel Hill and John Poros, director of the Carl Small Town Center at MSU, will be co-teaching a technical workshop related to their STRIDE-funded project, “A Regional Land-Use Transportation Decision Support Tool for Mississippi” (project #2012-003S), during the National Regional Transportation Conference on June 13-15, 2016 in Chattanooga, Tenn.

via Stride website

via Stride website

“Transportation planners and economic development staff working in small towns or rural communities make strategic decisions about the projects that would best enhance the transportation infrastructure and the strategies that would best promote growth and revitalization,” said Morton, lead PI.  “John Poros, Joe Huegy (of NCSU) and I have developed a suite of tools that inform planning for bicycle travel, preservation of community character and regional development.”

Using a case study set in four counties (see image at right) in Northeast Mississippi (a mostly rural area), the STRIDE project generated an easy-to-use tool for assessing bicycle suitability and a land use model integrated with a household-level travel demand model. The project also generated build-out analyses and renderings showing how infill development could increase density while preserving the existing small town feel.

“Community-Viz projected build-outs along with on the ground visualizations provide rural communities with the tools to assess their options for future growth and development,” Poros said. “Combined with transportation modeling that includes bicycling, rural communities can better position themselves to be the green, sustainable communities of tomorrow.”

The workshop will provide an introduction to a suite of tools for rural transportation planning.

A three-hour workshop is scheduled for Tues., June 14. First, Morton will relate the project to current planning initiatives in small towns and rural areas, including heritage and active tourism, livability and sustainability. Poros will then describe the Community Viz®-based build-out analyses and the bicycle suitability assessments, and he will show photo-realistic visualizations of reimagined streetscapes. In the last hour of the workshop, Morton will discuss the integrated land-use/travel-demand model and an application that investigates how to coordinate growth for an area with both automobile manufacturing and heritage tourism.

What can participants expect from this workshop?: How higher density, pedestrian/bike friendly development can be achieved in small towns. How the land-use/travel-demand model works and how different tools can work together.

Information on the conference and workshop is available at the website of the National Association of Development Organizations:

Emeritus professor featured in The Anniston Star

June 1st, 2016 Comments Off on Emeritus professor featured in The Anniston Star

Josh Gray and Rachel McCann (photo via

Josh Gray and Rachel McCann (photo via

After 26 years of teaching architecture, Rachel McCann is now a jazz singer

By Erin Williams | The Anniston Star

Five years ago, Rachel McCann was living the adult American dream. She was married with two adult children, and had spent more than two decades as a professor of architecture at Mississippi State University in Starkville.

Then she came in contact with John Grisham. The award, that is.

“I had been just really kind of running myself crazy with working so hard,” McCann said about that time in her life. She was given the Grisham Master Teacher award, the highest teaching honor that one can receive at Mississippi State, which came with $10,000 in prize money.

 As a reward to herself, McCann used the prize money to fund a five-week yoga teacher training session in Sedona, Ariz.

“And when I came out of it,” she said, “I kind of knew I wanted to make a change.”

Change, she did.

When she returned from yoga training, she was asked to sing backup on an album for fellow professor Bob Damm. During the session, she met fellow musician and future husband Josh Gray, who is the frontman of his own band, The Graysmiths.

Around this time, the urge to write more songs came back full force – but it would be another four years before she retired from Mississippi State, after 26 years of teaching and moved to Nashville.

In 2015, she married Gray and officially started her own band, Carnal Echo. Their music is a blend of jazz and R&B, with echoes of the styles of Norah Jones and Diana Krall.

The band also includes her husband and, on this tour, will feature pianist Katarina Pejak.

Looking back at her life, McCann’s path has been writing itself almost all her life. At age 10, she started playing piano for her church. At 16, she learned how to play the guitar. During her undergraduate years, she got into songwriting and played in a duo, but chose to major in architecture instead.

By the time she had established her family, her music was confined to playing guitar and singing in the choir at church, and tinkering a bit at home.

“I remember every time I walked up and down the stairs, I would sing, or if I was hanging up laundry, I would sing. I would just do it all of the time as kind of an outlet.”

This year, McCann released a four-song EP and is touring through Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas. Her song “Everyday I Leave You,” a smooth, mellow tune, is currently getting airplay on local public radio stations around Alabama.

Her performance on Friday at Caldwell Tavern in Anniston will actually be a three-band showcase, starting with The Graysmiths (McCann and Gray), then Carnal Echo (McCann, Gray and Pejak), then Pejak in a duo with drummer Slaven Ljulich.

“We’re the same four people, but we’re in three different bands,” McCann said.

Though it took her a while to get there, McCann knows this stage of her life was worth the wait.

“The yoga trainers were always at me to live less in my head and more in my heart, and if you think about it, that’s exactly what I’d just done,” she said. “I’d left a teaching career that’s all about knowledge and research, and moved into songwriting and singing – which has to come straight from the heart.”

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