School of Architecture holds fall 2016 convocation

August 17th, 2016 Comments Off on School of Architecture holds fall 2016 convocation

S_ARC Fall Convocation 2016_4

Fall 2016 convocation for the School of Architecture was held on Aug. 17 in the Robert and Freda Harrison Auditorium in Giles Hall.

Jim West, dean of the College of Architecture, Art and Design, welcomed the group and gave an update on the college before Director and F.L. Crane Professor Michael Berk started with the rest of the program.

MSU School of Architecture featured in Architect magazine

August 16th, 2016 Comments Off on MSU School of Architecture featured in Architect magazine

The Aydelotts’ $2.4 Million Gift to Architecture Students in the South

Alfred Aydelott, who with his wife Hope was responsible for one of the largest educational endowments by an architect, led a complex life filled with outbursts, grudges, and a medical miracle.

Movie All Is Inferno (2016)

MSU architecture alumnus, wife fund student research work in Australia

August 15th, 2016 Comments Off on MSU architecture alumnus, wife fund student research work in Australia

When one door closed for Zachary Henry, four more opened.

Henry, a fourth-year MSU architecture student from Knoxville, Tenn., was disappointed when his proposal for a travel scholarship to Australia didn’t come out on top.

However, when his boss, School of Architecture alumnus Briar Jones heard about Henry’s plan, he and his wife, Michelle, decided to fund his travels and research themselves.

“I was impressed with how much thought he put into applying for the Aydelott Travel Award and was disappointed for him when he didn’t win,” the principal at Thomas Shelton Jones and Associates in Starkville said, describing his intern as “full of energy.”

“Architecture is best experienced firsthand,” he added. “Great students read and learn what they need to see. Then they figure out how to go and experience the space and place and material tactility firsthand.”

After the shock of the Jones’ generosity wore off, Henry quickly got to work planning his trip with the help of Professor Emeritus Michael Fazio and Assistant Professors Emily McGlohn and Andrew Tripp.

The first leg of his trip included an interview with award winning Australian architect Glenn Murcutt at his home in Mosman, a suburb of Sydney, Australia.

“I’ve never met someone so passionate and humble about what they do,” said Henry, who said the 80-year-old Murcutt designs buildings that function as machines, unlike any other architect practicing today.

Henry said Murcutt doesn’t design for the money because he wants to create great architecture for people of any income and background to enjoy and live in.

“He breaks even on most of his work and lives in the most humble dwelling,” he said. “How incredible is that?”

Murcutt, who also teaches architecture at the University of New South Wales, paid a visit to Mississippi State University in 1998 and had nothing but high regards for MSU when he met with Henry.

“He told me, ‘You are getting a fantastic education, Zachary.’ I knew that,” he said, “but being reassured by the winner of a Pritzker Architecture Prize and Alvar Aalto Medal was just icing on the cake.”

The MSU student learned that Murcutt teaches in a similar method to his own professors – not using computers until the third-year of study and requiring lots of drawing and research before beginning to design.

The rest of Henry’s trip was dedicated to studying four Murcutt-designed buildings he had previously chosen as key to his research thesis – “Ecological functionalism in the work of Glenn Murcutt and how his buildings respond to the environment as a working machine.”

All located in New South Wales, Australia, the buildings ranged from small private residences to a large public building:

  • The Carter House, Kangaloon
  • The Magney House, Bingie Bingie
  • The Arthur and Yvonne Boyd Education Centre, Riversdale
  • The Fredericks-White House, Jamberoo

Henry collected data – using data loggers, multi-meters and laser devices – on how each of the four buildings responds to the physical and built environment.

He was really able to connect with the education center building, as he stayed there on the 2,700 acre property for three days collecting the data.

“It was interesting but also extremely scary; I was by myself in middle of the dense Australian rainforest with kangaroos, wombats and who knows what else!”

Now that he is back, he will compare and contrast the results and put his data into 3D modeling software to study the buildings in artificial environments.

“I’m excited to see where it goes,” he said, adding that he is not really sure what results he will get.

Henry has big plans for his research, including an Honors College Oxbridge Tutorial, presenting at conferences, a published paper, and eventually graduate school.

His end goal is to write a book and include the more than 500 Murcutt projects currently not catalogued for the library in New South Wales “so everyone can experience and learn about his work.”

Read more in the MSU “Our People” feature.

Associate Professor Alexis Gregory elected to serve in two new roles

August 10th, 2016 Comments Off on Associate Professor Alexis Gregory elected to serve in two new roles

Alexis Head ShotAssociate Professor Alexis Gregory, AIA, was recently elected the vice chair of the MSU President’s Commission of the Status of Women (PCSW) for 2016-2017.

Gregory was also asked to serve on the Service-Learning Advisory Committee (SLAC) by Michelle Garraway and Cade Smith of the Center for the Advancement of Service-Learning (CASLE).

MSU architecture school to begin wood-based design studio

August 9th, 2016 Comments Off on MSU architecture school to begin wood-based design studio

(Photos provided by Jacob Gines)

Mississippi State University’s School of Architecture hopes to lead the charge in the Southeast on innovative wood research and design.

The Sustainable Forestry Initiative®, Inc. (SFI), an internationally recognized nonprofit organization dedicated to responsible forest management, recently awarded a $10,000 Community Partnerships grant for a design studio centered on wood technologies. The Mississippi Forestry Foundation and other industry partners pitched in a $12,000 match for the grant.

MSU architecture assistant professor Jacob A. Gines will use a portion of the funding for a design studio, scheduled for this fall and tailored for fourth-year undergraduate students. The studio will focus on recent innovations in wood products and construction methods.

The studio, called TIMB(R): Timber Innovations for Mississippi Buildings Reimagined, will culminate with a design competition in which students will craft plans for a mid-rise wood structure that could serve as a showcase for wood building design in Mississippi and an office space for the Mississippi Forestry Association.

“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,” Gines said. “We at the MSU School of Architecture love the idea of being able to facilitate that process.”

Gines said a long history of “building tall with wood” in the U.S. halted following the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 when international building codes began regulating wood use in the frames of mid- to high-rise structures. But recent innovations in wood design technology, such as cross laminated timber where thicker wood panels run perpendicular throughout the structures’ frames, are opening doors to taller wood construction with 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,” he said.

The architecture professor added that a lot is being done with these new wood innovations in Europe, the Northwest and Canada, but nothing in this region.

With a showcase wood building that would demonstrate those technologies, Gines sees an opportunity for Mississippi to become a leader in the Southeast region in promoting mid-rise wood-frame construction. That would help the state’s economy, he said, since 64 percent of Mississippi’s land is forested. It’s also an environmentally friendly way to build, he added, because timber is a renewable resource.

Last year, Gines challenged students in his fourth-year architecture studio to research high-performance wood construction and design a hypothetical 20-story wood building in Manhattan, New York. His materials class and a building construction science class also worked closely with the MSU Department of Sustainable Bioproducts to further their knowledge on the subject.

MFA executive director Tedrick Ratcliff said interest in wood-frame construction is growing nationwide, and he is pleased to see MSU students looking for innovative ways to use one of the state’s most abundant resources. Regardless of whether the building the design students will propose ever comes to fruition, Ratcliff said MFA plans to make the most of the studio’s greater purpose.

“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,” he 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 presented his research at the 2015 annual meetings for the MFA and Resource Management Service, LLC, a collection of investors and stakeholders in the forestry industry. In September, he will host the Timber Innovations for Mississippi Buildings Reimagined (TIMB(R)) symposium.

“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.”

The School of Architecture is part of MSU’s College of Architecture, Art and Design. For more information on SFI®, visit

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