MSU’s Carl Small Town Center gains new director, community planner

August 28th, 2017 Comments Off on MSU’s Carl Small Town Center gains new director, community planner

By Sasha Steinberg | Mississippi State University

Mississippi State’s Carl Small Town Center is announcing its new leader and welcoming another to the team.

Leah F. Kemp was promoted to CSTC director in July, while Thomas R. Gregory III officially began his new role as the center’s community planner at the start of the fall semester.

Prior to assuming the center’s directorship, Kemp served for six years as assistant director and one year as interim director. At MSU, she also has served as an adjunct professor, visiting assistant professor and instructor in the College of Architecture, Art and Design.

A Mississippi Registered Architect, Kemp also has practiced in Washington, D.C., and Nashville, Tennessee. She holds a bachelor’s degree in interior design from Virginia Tech, as well as a master of architecture from Tulane University, where she received a commendation.

Additionally, Kemp is a member of multiple professional organizations, including the American Institute of Architects, and the national American Planning Association and its Mississippi chapter. She also is a Mississippi Heritage Trust and Mississippi Main Street board member.

In her new role, Kemp said she will continue serving as a leader, partner and educator in public interest design for MSU’s School of Architecture. Being a strong advocate for meaningful design in small towns is another of her top priorities, she said.

“My goal is to make the Carl Small Town Center the foremost thought leader in small town issues as they relate to the built environment,” she said. “Because we have the unique challenge of serving the majority of Mississippi’s small towns, I’d like to see our center help address more complex issues that are shared challenges among our Mississippi communities.” 

Leah Kemp (Photo by Megan Bean)

Gregory is a 2005 MSU business administration, construction management and land development bachelor’s graduate who also minored in economics and political science. He returned to his alma mater after serving eight years as chief administrative officer for the City of Greenwood.

In that role, he was instrumental in writing grants, administering projects, and implementing the comprehensive plan for the city under the leadership of Mayor Carolyn McAdams.

“When I worked for the City of Greenwood, we partnered with the Carl Small Town Center to create a master plan for the Baptist Town neighborhood, and I witnessed firsthand the transformation the center’s work had on that community,” Gregory said. “As a former client of the Carl Small Town Center, I was impressed with the quality of work it produced and the success it had in improving the quality of life for Baptist Town residents.”

A Master of City and Regional Planning graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Gregory is licensed by the American Institute of Certified Planners and is a member of the American Planning Association and Congress for the New Urbanism, among other professional groups. 

Thomas Gregory (Photo by Russ Houston)

Through his new role as the Carl Small Town Center’s community planner, Gregory said he is looking forward to “helping Mississippi’s small towns create a vision for their communities and providing tools to bring their vision to reality.”

“As a member of the CSTC team, I am excited to be a part of the transformational work we are doing around the state,” he said.

Fred E. Carl Jr., a major Mississippi State benefactor and the Carl Small Town Center’s namesake, is a Greenwood resident who founded and served as the first president and CEO of nationally recognized Viking Range Corp. A one-time architecture major at MSU, he endowed the university’s statewide community design outreach program in 2004.

 For more on the College of Architecture, Art and Design, visit; its Carl Small Town Center, at or

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at

See the story in the Mississippi Business Journal.

Carl Joe Williams presents first fall 2017 Harrison Lecture

August 28th, 2017 Comments Off on Carl Joe Williams presents first fall 2017 Harrison Lecture

Images by Ryan Fierro

By Kelsey Brownlee

On Fri., Aug. 25, Carl Joe Williams presented the first Harrison Lecture for fall 2017. The event took place in the Robert and Freda Harrison Auditorium in Giles Hall Auditorium at 4 p.m. 

Williams came and spoke about Blights Out, which he is a founding member of. Blights Out is a collective of artists, activists and architects working to imagine and design a new model for housing development centered outside the for-profit market; Blights Out generates dialogue, art and action to support the movement for permanently affordable housing and challenge blight, displacement and gentrification.

Williams’ work has been displayed in several venues throughout the United States, including Journeys, an installation at the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport and Williams’ Sculptural Trees installation on the median of Veterans Boulevard.

See the full Harrison Lecture Series schedule here.

School of Architecture holds Fall 2017 Convocation

August 23rd, 2017 Comments Off on School of Architecture holds Fall 2017 Convocation

Ryan Colvin, senior coordinator at the MSU Career Center, spoke with students at S|ARC’s Fall 2017 Convocation. Colvin discussed co-ops and internships as well as services available to students through the Career Center.

Fall 2017 convocation for the School of Architecture was held on Aug. 16 in the Robert and Freda Harrison Auditorium in Giles Hall.

School of Architecture announces 2017-2018 Giles Gallery exhibition schedule

August 23rd, 2017 Comments Off on School of Architecture announces 2017-2018 Giles Gallery exhibition schedule

Gulf Coast Community Design Studio partners with Boys and Girls Club

August 15th, 2017 Comments Off on Gulf Coast Community Design Studio partners with Boys and Girls Club

Elizabeth Englebretson of the MSU Gulf Coast Community Design Studio and members of the Boys & Girls Club’s Hancock County Unit look on Friday, Aug. 11, 2017, at a model of the Magnolia Bayou watershed they made on display in Bay St. Louis. (credit: John Fitzhugh

Via Jeff Clark | Sun

What hidden Hancock County gem inspired the work of these 60 Coast kids?

A “hidden watershed in Bay St. Louis” is getting a lot of exposure thanks to a partnership between Mississippi State University’s Gulf Coast Community Design Studio and the Hancock County Boys & Girls Club. The project was a summer-long STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) education program.

The Magnolia Bayou Watershed in Bay St. Louis was the subject of a multimedia art exhibition that included the activation of a storefront at 122 Blaize Ave. in the Depot District. Some of the participants in the educational program drew sketches of wildlife on the watershed and built a 3D model of the ecosystem. The exhibit opened to the public Friday.

The exhibit also featured a 5-minute documentary, “Magnolia Bayou: Bay St. Louis’ Hidden Watershed,” which documents what the students learned about the watershed.

It was written and directed by Steve Barney of the Bay St. Louis Creative Arts Center . It contains video footage of Magnolia Bayou as well as still photography of the watershed.

“We had 60 about kids ranging in age from 9 to 14, and we were able to work with them several times, and we were able to get really in depth, especially with the artwork,” Blarney said. “The activities started at the beginning of the summer and around the last week in July, we started working with the kids intensively on the art work to culminate everything we learned this summer.”

 Blarney said the project was was designed to to hit three educational targets.

“We had three objectives, which was to have an outstanding learning outcome for the kids, educate the people of Bay St. Louis about the conservation of the fragile ecosystem and the third objective was to have a model which could be used by other grant recipients across the country,” he said. “I think we hit all of our goals.”

The young filmmaker

The five minute short film, which features the music of former Bay St. Louis resident Pete Fountain, highlights the 772 acres of streams known collectively as Magnolia Bayou Watershed. It enters the Bay of St. Louis at the Bay Waveland Yacht Club. The documentary creates the hypothesis that the estuary is shrinking because of commercial development in Hancock County.

Nick Bearden, 15, of Pass Christian, said he has been involved with film making and video editing sine he was nine. Nick did the drone shots, videography and editing for the documentary.

“I’m self taught,” he said. “I learned a lot by watching and uploading Youtube videos,” Nick said. “I watched a lot of tutorials.”

He said he learned a great deal about the watershed and conservation from working on the project.

“I had never really paid much attention the Bays St. Louis watershed and economic development is impacting this area,” Nick said. “It was very much an eye opener.”

Off the couches and working outside

The art exhibit was the culmination of a summer program where its participants spent several hours outdoors studying the ecosystem, by taking water samples and monitoring the native species of the bayou.

“Every day the bayou is more and more degraded and we have to be the ones that are going to save it,” said Boys & Girls Club member Sabrina Hoyt, 15. “It was a really good leaning experience.”

Devonte Han, 15, said he saw the program as a good way to learn something new.

“I did more of the art on this project,” Devonte said. “ I learned that the bayou is not doing so well because of how people are treating it and we need to treat it better.”

Read more from The Shoefly Magazine and The Sea Coast Echo

Architecture Student featured on Mississippi State website

August 15th, 2017 Comments Off on Architecture Student featured on Mississippi State website

Story by Sasha Steinberg | Photo by Megan Bean | Mississippi State University 

With help from Mississippi State University, fifth-year architecture student Emily Turner fulfilled a childhood dream this summer when she visited historic castles in the south of France.

“It was nice to see buildings that I’ve only drawn or seen on paper in person,” said Turner, a native of Starkville. “I also learned about the architectural history of amazing public spaces in Brazil, Tokyo and Barcelona that were designed by architects in the modern movement. It was a great experience.”

Along with a Paul Grootkerk Travel Award from the School of Architecture, Turner’s research abroad opportunity was made possible with support from the university’s Judy and Bobby Shackouls Honors College.

Set to start another exciting fall semester at Mississippi State, Turner is looking forward to more opportunities to excel in her chosen academic discipline and extracurricular activities.

“We have a top-25 architecture school where students can collaborate and get to know their professors really well. We also have good community design and service opportunities,” said Turner, a recipient of MSU’s Luke and Ruth Davis Presidential Scholarship. “Architects have to know a little bit about everything, and I like architecture school because it teaches you how to work through problems.”

The Starkville High School graduate said local Belinda Stewart is among her architecture idols. Stewart is principal of Eupora-based Belinda Stewart Architects, the firm that headed the construction of the university’s new Old Main Academic Center.

“I really look up to Belinda Stewart because she has a successful firm in a small town,” Turner said. “I’m not sure what type of architecture I want to pursue, but I would like to be a part of a small-town community.”

Turner’s pursuit of an English minor at MSU also is equipping her with skills essential to her success as an aspiring architect.

“We have to give presentations in class each semester, and I’m enjoying learning how to communicate what I’m doing in architecture through my English classes,” she said, adding with a laugh, “English also is my stress relief.”

Outside of her studies, Turner is an active member of the LGBTQ+ Union student organization. She also serves as the freedom by design director for the American Institute of Architecture Students campus chapter.

In her spare time, Turner enjoys going to the movies, as well as playing tennis and attending MSU sporting events with her dad Steve, head of the university-based Southern Rural Development Center. Her mom Jenny also works at MSU as assistant coordinator for curriculum and scheduling in the Registrar’s Office.

“I have always liked Mississippi State because I come from a Bulldog family,” Turner said.


Carl Small Town Center director discusses city planning in Mississippi on SuperTalk Radio

August 10th, 2017 Comments Off on Carl Small Town Center director discusses city planning in Mississippi on SuperTalk Radio

(photo by Megan Bean / © Mississippi State University)

Leah Kemp, director of the Carl Small Town Center at Mississippi State University, was a part of “Good things with Rebecca Turner” on Mississippi’s SuperTalk Radio yesterday [Aug. 9] at 2:20.

Kemp discussed city planning for towns and cities across the Magnolia State.
Also a part of the discussion was Scott Hummel, executive vice president and provost of William Carey University, discussing the rebuilding that has taken place on campus following a January tornado.

Listen to the recording here.

Established in 1979, the Carl Small Town Center seeks to initiate theoretical and applied research and to serve as a national focus for the collection, storage, dissemination and application of information pertinent to issues of special interest in small towns. Activities include graphic and photographic documentation and computer imaging of the small town scene. The CSTC has participated in design case studies, environmental impact studies, and economic and marketing analyses. It provides research and service assistance to towns through the redevelopment of downtowns and the implementation of other comparable community improvement initiatives. Assistance projects include community design and improvement, economic diversification, town planning, conservation of architectural and historic resources, affordable housing design and technology, and other activities that affect quality of life in the community.

The center’s motto is, “We are advocates of meaningful design for small towns… and towns that wish they were!”

Jackson Center director’s first book available for sale

August 8th, 2017 Comments Off on Jackson Center director’s first book available for sale


The publisher, Routledge, describes the book as follows: “Architecture History and Theory in Reverse looks at architecture history in reverse, in order to follow chains of precedents back through time to see how ideas alter the course of civilization in general and the discipline of architecture in particular. Part I begins with present-day attitudes about architecture and traces them back to seminal ideas from the beginning of the twentieth century. Part II examines how pre-twentieth-century societies designed and understood architecture, how they strove to create communal physical languages and how their disagreements set the stage for our information age practices. The book includes 45 black-and-white images and will be useful to students of architecture and literature.”

Callender, a 1994 School of Architecture alumnus, teaches advanced design studios at the Jackson Center, which houses the School of Architecture’s fith-year program. He is also an occasional practitioner, painter and writer who is a member of both the Society of Architectural Historians and a regional board member of the US Green Building Council. Callender’s educational background underscores this range of interests and concerns, from undergraduate training in both architecture and philosophy (1987-1994) to graduate work in painting, sculpture and art history leading to an MFA in 2001. His subsequent research interests at first seem varied in equal measure – ranging from phenomenological studies of desire, to analyses of the role of perception and meaning in sustainable urbanism, to questioning the impact of shifts from meaning to information paradigms on the evolution of architecture theory and practice.

“All of this research aims at deepening our understanding of how meaning is constructed and shared in and through the built environment,” said Callender.

Architecture History and Theory in Reverse is now available for purchase online and can be found at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Books a Million, among others.

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