School of Architecture holds 2017 Recognition Day ceremony

May 10th, 2017 Comments Off on School of Architecture holds 2017 Recognition Day ceremony

Class of 2017: Front (L to R): Aryn Phillips, Kapish Cheema, Rachel Patronas, Jarrod Robinson, Josh Johnson; Middle (L to R): Morgan Powell, David Kett, Nathan Thomas, Ryan Fierro, Walter Carter, Sam Goodwin, Zac White, Garrett Yelverton, West Pierce, Mary Sanders, Ria Bennett; Back (L to R): Cody Smith, Tyler Warmath, Kevin Flores, Aaron Ellzey, Ashton Aime, Lucas Posey, Joseph Rose, Brandon Fairbanks, Ben Marshall, Luke Marshall.

Recognition Day for the School of Architecture was held on May 5, 2017, in the Robert and Freda Harrison Auditorium in Giles Hall.

Jim West, dean of the College of Architecture, Art and Design, welcomed everyone and thanked parents, spouses, siblings, grandparents and other guests for supporting the graduates.

Director and F.L. Crane Professor Michael Berk introduced MSU Associate Provost for Academic Affairs Peter Ryan, Ph.D.

Ryan welcomed everyone to campus.

Belinda Stewart, FAIA, principal of Belinda Stewart Architects PA presented the 27th Annual Dr. William L. and Jean P. Giles Memorial Lecture.

The School of Architecture faculty members were recognized before announcing the awards.

2016-2017 School of Architecture awards:

Annual Allen & Hoshall Faculty Award
Recipient:  Jassen Callender
The architectural firm of Allen & Hoshall of Jackson, Mississippi, has established a $500 annual award to a faculty member “who has demonstrated excellence in teaching.” The award winners are selected by the fifth-year graduating class.

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Tau Sigma Delta Honor Society (TSD)
Chapter President:  Ben Webster
Faculty Advisors:  Professor Jacob Gines and Professor Hans Herrmann
Tau Sigma Delta is the architectural (and allied programs) honor society open to top academic students in design disciplines. Induction does not occur until the student consistently demonstrates high academic standards and is in the third-year.

TSD Initiates:
Jake Gartman, Mitchell Hubbell, Matthew Lewis, Karly Morgan, Asher Paxton, Emily Turner, Leah Welborn

TSD Fifth-Year Graduates:
Ashton Aime, Ria Bennett, Ryan M. Fierro, Ben Marshall, West Pierce, Joseph Rose, Mary Sanders, Cody Smith

TSD Faculty Book Award
Recipient:  Professor Emily McGlohn
The Tau Sigma Delta Faculty Book Award is presented by the third- and fourth-year student members to the faculty member who has inspired them
to excellence.

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National Organization of Minority Architecture Students (NOMAS)
Chapter President:  Diondria Bingham
Presented By:  Elizabeth Bueche
Faculty Advisor:  Professor Emily McGlohn
National Organization of Minority Architecture Students (NOMAS) is the student arm of the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA). Students participating seek to enhance the educational experience of its members by fostering diversity within the School of Architecture and the community at-large.

The 2017 NOMAS Diversity Award
Recipient:  Diondria Bingham
Chosen by the NOMAS membership, the NOMAS Diversity Award is given to a
student who has shown outstanding initiative and leadership in promoting diversity within the School and the larger community.

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Alpha Rho Chi (APX)
Chapter President:  Asher Paxton
Faculty Advisor:  Professor Justin Taylor
Alpha Rho Chi is the only national co-ed professional/social fraternity for architecture and the allied arts. MSU’s Hippodamus chapter includes members representing architecture, interior design, landscape architecture, and engineering. Their mission is academic excellence, and the group focuses on leadership, mentoring and professionalism.

Alpha Rho Chi Student Book Award
Recipient:  Lucas Posey
The Alpha Rho Chi student book award is given to a graduating fifth-year
architecture student who is an active member of Alpha Rho Chi who has
furthered the mission of the fraternity through service.

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American Institute of Architecture Students
Chapter President:  Hannah Hebinck
Faculty Advisor:  Dr. Fred Esenwein
American Institute of Architecture Students is the student counterpart of the American Institute of Architects. The chapter works closely with professional architects in the state through the Mississippi Chapter of the American Institute of Architects.

AIAS Member of the Year Award
Recipient:  Hannah Hebinck
The recipient of the AIAS Award is chosen by the AIAS membership. The qualifications for this award are:  “…that the student goes above and beyond what
has been asked of him/her; has shown initiative and leadership qualities; has been
an AIAS leader within his/her year level; and does well academically.”

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First-Year Faculty Book Award
Studio Coordinator:  Professor Jacob Gines
Recipient:  Sarah Hoing
This award is a book selected by the first-year faculty and is presented to a first-year student selected on the basis of ‘design excellence’.

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Second-Year Faculty Book Award
Studio Coordinator:  Dr. Fred Esenwein
Recipient:  Meredith Hutto
This award is a book selected by the second-year faculty and is presented to a second-year student selected on the basis of ‘design excellence’.

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Third-Year Faculty Book Award
Studio Coordinator:  Professor Emily McGlohn
Recipients:  Mitchell Hubbell and Asher Paxton
This award is a book selected by the third-year faculty and is presented to a third-year student/s selected on the basis of ‘design excellence’.

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Fourth-Year Faculty Book Award
Studio Coordinator:  Professor Hans Herrmann
Recipient:  Zachary Henry and Austin Schnitzlein
This award is a book selected by the fourth-year faculty and is presented to a fourth- 
year student/s selected on the basis of ‘design excellence’.

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ARCC King Award
Presented by:  Director Michael Berk
Recipient:  West Pierce
Selection for this award is made by the entire faculty.  Named in honor of the late Jonathan King, co-founder and first president of the Architectural Research Centers Consortium (ARCC), this award is presented to one student per ARCC-member school. Selection of the recipient is based upon criteria that acknowledge innovation, integrity, and scholarship in architectural and/or environmental design research.

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Ryan Fierro

West Pierce

Fifth-Year Jurists’ Award
Presented by:  Jassen Callender, Jackson Center Director
Recipients:  Ryan Fierro and West Pierce
The Jurists’ Award, a book award, is conferred by the fifth-year design faculty upon the student(s) who has achieved the greatest personal growth as a designer and whose work has contributed to the overall success of the fifth-year Design Studio.

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Academic Achievement Award
Recipient:  Ria Bennett
The Academic Achievement Award is a book award presented to the graduating fifth-year student who has the highest cumulative MSU grade point average. 

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Creative Windows & Doors/Marvin Windows Traveling Fellowship
($1,500) Ria Bennett
In September 2004, Dave Young and Eddie Rives, owners of Creative Windows & Doors; and David Morris, Marvin Windows representative, established this traveling fellowship for a student completing the fifth-year.

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Alpha Rho Chi Medal
Presented by:  Director Michael Berk
Recipient:  Aryn Phillips
The Alpha Rho Chi Medal is awarded to the graduating fifth-year student who has shown an ability for leadership, performed willing service for the school, and gives promise of professional merit through attitude and personality. The medal is offered each year to every NAAB-fully accredited school of architecture. The recipient is chosen by the entire faculty of the school.

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Certificate: Ria Bennett

Medal: Ryan Fierro

AIA Henry Adams Certificate and Medal
Presented by:  Director Michael Berk
Certificate Recipient:  Ria Bennett
Medal Recipient:  Ryan Fierro
Sponsored by the American Institute of Architects, the AIA Henry Adams Certificate and Medal are considered to be the most important awards given to graduating students. They are awarded for “general excellence in architecture” throughout the course of study. The medal is awarded to the most qualified student, and the certificate is awarded to the runner-up. Selection is made by the entire faculty.

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Other Notable Student Awards, 2016-2017:

Mississippi State University Presidential Scholar
Krishna D. Desai
Krishna was one of thirteen students selected for Mississippi State’s most prestigious undergraduate scholarship. The annual award covers the current cost of university tuition, fees, books, and room and board, as well as research and study-abroad expenses. To qualify, applicants must have a minimum 30 ACT/1330 SAT score, as well as have graduated with a minimum core or overall 3.75 high school grade-point average. Selected from more than 700 qualified applicants, the 2016-17 group joins 37 others already participating in the program, which is part of MSU’s Judy and Bobby Shackouls Honors College. They are expected to maintain an overall 3.4 GPA while in their respective academic majors.

Aydelott Travel Award
Daniel Smith
A $2.4 million endowment – established by the late Alfred Lewis Aydelott, FAIA, and his wife, Hope Galloway Aydelott – provides a $20,000 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. As MSU’s recipient, Daniel Smith will travel this summer to Sao Paulo, Brazil; Berlin, Germany; Firminy-Vert, France; and Dhaka, Bangladesh, to study four unique buildings. He will work next semester with his faculty advisor, Dr. Fred Esenwein.

Paul Grootkerk Travel Award
Emily Turner
The Paul Grootkerk Travel Award (funded by alumnus Ted T. Porter) is awarded to the second-place recipient of the Aydelott Travel Award. The award provides $4,000 for student travel. Emily will travel to Sao Paulo, Brazil; Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, France; and Tokyo, Japan, this summer.

Briar and Michelle Jones Travel Fellowship
Zachary Henry
Alumnus Briar Jones and his wife, Michelle, provided $2,000 to support Zachary’s travel to research and interview architect Glenn Murcutt in Australia in July 2016. Zachary received the Best Undergraduate Paper Award from the 2017 Building Technology Educators Society International Conference, landing him a $500 travel scholarship, free conference admission, and BTES membership. He will present the paper, “Ecological Functionalism in the Work of Glenn Murcutt,” at the conference in Des Moines, Iowa, in June 2017. (Research was conducted under the guidance of Assistant Professor Emily McGlohn’s Audit Squad.)

Method Studio Undergraduate Research Fellow – Fall 2016
Omkar Prabhu
Omkar received a $3,000 stipend award and worked on research in the fall semester for Method Studio under the guidance of Assistant Professor Jacob Gines. Omkar was then invited (with honorarium funding) to present his research, “Launch Pads: A Generational Response to Urban Housing,” to the Sr. Leadership Team at Method Studio, Inc., in Salt Lake City, Utah, on Nov. 10, 2016. 

Association for Retired Faculty (ARF) William L. Giles Award
for Excellence in Architecture
Lara Lynn Waddell
This $500 award was established in 1997 in honor and memory of William Lincoln Giles, a charter member of ARF. It is given each year to a student selected by the School of Architecture on the basis of academic excellence and overall leadership within the school. Funding for the award comes from a contribution by Ms. Hazel Presson, aunt of Ginger Giles Jones, Dr. Giles’ daughter.

Poster – Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education
Anna Barr
Anna’s poster, titled “Learn & Grow – Educational and Community Garden,” was accepted to the AASHE Conference and Expo at the University of Arizona, Baltimore, Maryland, held Oct 10-11, 2016. Her work was created under the guidance of Associate Professor Alexis Gregory. Anna received $750 in matching funding from the MSU Shackouls Honors College to travel and present her poster.

Merit Award: 2016 American Society of Landscape Architects
Kirby Lockard and Carter Smith
The ASLA Mississippi Chapter received a merit award in the 2016 ASLA Student Award Program for the landscape design and installation at the MSU Golf Course Storm Shelter at Hole #4. The work was completed in a 2015 Maymester landscape architecture exterior design build class led by faculty instructor: P. Summerlin with architecture advisor Associate Professor Hans Herrmann.

Harrison Lecture
Lara Lynn Waddell
Lara Lynn was invited to present the February 2017 Harrison Lecture. Waddell presented her research resulting from travel funded by the 2016 Aydelott Travel Award. Her research was guided by her mentor,   Emeritus Professor Michael Fazio.

Office of Research and Economic Development 2017 Undergraduate Student Research Award
Cody Smith
Cody was recognized at ORED’s annual Research Awards Banquet on April 27, 2017.

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2017-2018 Scholarships:

McCarty Architects Student Housing Team Architecture Scholarship
($2,500) Rashida Momoh, Damion Hardy
Candidates must be third, fourth, or fifth-year architecture students in good standing.

Eley Guild Hardy Architecture Annual Scholarship
($2,000) Omkar Prabhu
In May 2007, Taylor Guild III and David Hardy established this scholarship to assist talented students in their fifth-year of study in the architecture program.

Mockbee Hall & Drake Annual Scholarship
($1,350) Anna Barr
Applicants must be: entering the fifth-year design studio in the School of Architecture; have a minimum grade point average of 3.0; be of good moral character; and have demonstrated leadership ability.

Charles H. Dean, Jr. Annual Memorial Scholarship
($1,000) Donald Murray
Any full-time MSU students in their third- through fifth-year of design studio may apply. Applicants must be Mississippi residents and can demonstrate financial need.

Erin Remerow Parsons Loyalty Scholarship
($1,000/year) De’Vion Dingle, Danny Osman, Mattison Ping, Calvin Smith, Caley Watts
Open to incoming freshman and transfer students majoring in the College of Architecture, Art & Design with a minimum 3.0 GPA; transfer students must have a minimum of 48 transferable community college credit hours.

Lyndall Gail Wood Memorial Scholarship
($1,000) Austin Keaton
This scholarship was established by the Wood family to honor Lyndall Gail’s passion as an MSU architecture student. Applicants must be full-time students entering the fourth-year design studio in the School of Architecture, be in excellent academic standing with the university, and be a student with exceptional design ability.

Matt L. Virden III and M.L. Virden IV Memorial Scholarship
($1,000) Cory Moxley
Students must be entering their third-year; have a 2.80+ GPA; be of good moral character; have demonstrated leadership; can show financial need; and a resident of: Bolivar, Carroll, Coahoma, Desoto, Holmes, Humphreys, Issaquena, Leflore, Panola, Quitman, Sharkey, Sunflower, Tallahatchie, Tate, Tunica, Warren, Washington, or Yazoo Counties.

Stephanie Mihojevich Pizzetta Endowed Scholarship
($1,000) Maria Degtyareva, Hannah Hebinck, Rashidat Momoh, Yerix Morel
Candidates must be full-time students at Mississippi State University; have completed their second-year of design studio in the School of Architecture; have a minimum 3.0 GPA; and can demonstrate financial need.

Stephanie Mihojevich Pizzetta Annual Scholarship
($1,000) Jake Gartman
Candidates must be full-time students; have completed their second-year in the School of Architecture; have a minimum 3.0 GPA; and can demonstrate financial need.

Joseph L. Echols Scholars Program
($850) Patrick Greene, Rashida Momoh
($500) McKenzie Johnson
Candidates for the Joseph L. Echols Scholarship must: be a current undergraduate and underrepresented architecture student; show strong work ethic by maintaining a minimum 3.0 GPA; present a satisfactory work portfolio; demonstrate financial need.

Pryor & Morrow Annual Scholarship
($500) Diondria Bingham, Maria Degtyareva, Patrick Greene, Damion Hardy, Sarah Hoing, Austin Keaton,
              Donald Murray, Hannah Strider
Any full-time MSU students in their second- through fifth-year of design studio may apply. Students must be Mississippi residents and can demonstrate financial need.

Angelo “Pops” Primos Computer Scholarship
(software) Sarah Hoing, McKenzie Johnson, Hannah Strider
Applicants must be full-time MSU students entering the second-year design studio in the School of Architecture; and can demonstrate financial need.

Johnson-McAdams Design Discovery Scholarships
($600) To Be Determined  
Applicants must be from Leflore County, or be an under-represented minority group in architecture; and high school students interested in a career in architecture and related disciplines.

Joseph L. Echols D2 Scholarships (Design Discovery)
($600) To Be Determined  
Candidate must: be a high school student who shows an interest in majoring in architecture by taking college preparatory math and science courses and demonstrating ability; show strong work ethic and satisfactory performance; be a minority student from the Marshall County area; demonstrate financial need.

Photos from the event can be downloaded until July 30, 2017 here.

Download the program here.

AIA video features Duvall Decker

May 8th, 2017 Comments Off on AIA video features Duvall Decker

“The American Institute of Architects presents a short documentary film on the positive changes in Midtown, a neighborhood in Jackson, Mississippi. Duvall Decker, (alumna Anne Marie Decker) a Jackson architecture firm, worked alongside residents and community leaders to transform a struggling area into an example of healthy community revitalization. This film launches the 2017 I Look Up Film Challenge and introduces this year’s theme, Blueprint for Better. The AIA invites filmmakers and architects to team up and tell stories of architects making a positive impact on a community. Learn more and register for the challenge by June 26: www.ilookup.org.” Watch the video on YouTube.

School of Architecture holds 2017 Final Reviews

May 4th, 2017 Comments Off on School of Architecture holds 2017 Final Reviews

Mississippi State University School of Architecture Final Reviews were held April 21-28 in Giles Hall.

photo by Kelsey Brownlee

First-Year: Friday, April 21: Foundational ‘sacred space’ project
Faculty: Assistant Professor Jacob A. Gines, coordinator; Visiting Assistant Professor Francesca Hankins; Visiting Associate Professor George Joseph Martin

photo by Kelsey Brownlee

Second-Year: Mon., April 24: Natchez Trace Residential project
Faculty: Assistant Professor Fred Esenwein, Ph.D., coordinator; Associate Professor Alexis Gregory; Assistant Clinical Professor Justin Taylor


(photos by Zachary Henry)
Third-Year: Tues., April 25: Collaborative Studio w/ BCS; Starkville Armory renovation
Faculty: Assistant Professor Emily McGlohn; Associate Professor John Poros; Lecturer David Beatty (building construction science)

Photo by Kelsey Brownlee

Fourth-Year: Wed., April  26: Birmingham Library project
Faculty: Associate Professor Hans Herrmann, coordinator; Assistant Professor Andrew Tripp, Ph.D.

Photo by Kelsey Brownlee

Fifth-Year: Thurs. – Fri, April 27-28: DowntownJackson Individual Comprehensive projects
Director: Jassen Callender

Mississippi State University AIA National Convention alumni reception update

April 12th, 2017 Comments Off on Mississippi State University AIA National Convention alumni reception update

Due to a conflict with academic schedules, the Mississippi State University College of Architecture, Art and Design will not be hosting an alumni reception at the 2017 AIA National Convention, which will be held in Orlando, Fla., from April 27-29.

The college has enjoyed hosting numerous alumni receptions across the country in recent years, including events this year in Jackson and Dallas, Texas.

We have identified several cities for future receptions and welcome interest from alumni in hosting receptions in their cities.

If you’d like to get involved with coordinating an alumni event in your area, please contact Associate Dean Greg Hall, Ph.D., AIA, NCARB, at 662-325-2202 or ghall@caad.msstate.edu.

AIA College of Fellows Class of 2017 includes two MSU S|ARC alumnae

April 7th, 2017 Comments Off on AIA College of Fellows Class of 2017 includes two MSU S|ARC alumnae

Two Mississippi State University School of Architecture alumnae were elected to the American Institute of Architects (AIA) College of Fellows for 2017.

Election is awarded by a jury of peers and recognizes achievements of national significance in advancing the architectural profession.

The 2017 AIA Jury of Fellows elevated 178 members out of a total membership of more than 90,000. Fewer than 3% of members have been distinguished with elevation to fellowship nationally.

The newly elected Fellows will be honored at an investiture ceremony at the 2017 National AIA Convention in Orlando, Fla., on April 21.

Anne Marie Decker, FAIA, principal of Duvall Decker Architects, P.A., a Jackson architectural firm, was granted Fellowship in the category of Design, which is granted to architects who have produced distinguished bodies of work through design. Her elevation represents the third elevation of a female architect from Mississippi and the only member elevated from the state this year. Decker founded Duvall Decker in 1998 with her partner, Roy Decker. Her architectural experience ranges from community planning, K-12 schools, state institutions, university buildings and affordable housing. She is recognized as a contributor to the advancement of the profession and is often invited to share her expertise as a lecturer, teacher, design jury chair and published author. She has been an adjunct instructor in the School of Architecture at Mississippi State University. She is a 1994 summa cum laude graduate of Mississippi State University where she earned a Bachelor of Architecture degree. In 2004 she was honored by the Mississippi State University School of Architecture with the Alumni Fellow Award for her achievements in practice. In 2015, she was selected to serve as Eminent Architect of Practice for Mississippi State University’s School of Architecture and Design. She is currently serving as a member of the AIA Trust Board of Trustees.

Daria F. Pizzetta, FAIA, was born and raised in Biloxi, Mississippi. She holds a Bachelor of Architecture degree from Mississippi State University. After receiving her degree, Pizzetta worked in Gulfport for Shaw Walker Architects. She relocated to New York City in 1984, working first for Ferrenz Taylor Clark Architects and then at Soo Kim Associates, Inc., where she was a partner from 1988 to 1992. In 1992, Pizzetta joined Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates and was named to the position of Senior Associate in 2000. When HHPA dissolved in August of 2004, Hugh Hardy asked Pizzetta to join a select group of staff to form H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture. She is now a principal at H3, where her projects have included the Botanical Research Institute of Texas’ facility in Fort Worth and the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Fisher Building. Her project for the Maritime and Seafood Industry Museum in Biloxi received a MS/AIA Honor Award in 2015. She chaired the American Institute of Architects/New York Chapter Interiors Committee from 1998 until 2002 and was on the Board of Directors for the AIA/NYC. Pizzetta is a member of the American Library Association and the Library Administration and Management Association. She was named the 1998‐1999 Alumni Fellow for Mississippi State University’s College of Architecture, Art and Design, and she continues to support the School of Architecture with a merit scholarship and by sponsoring co‐op students for yearlong tenures in H3’s New York office. She is also a member of the MSU School of Architecture’s Advisory Board, advising the school on student curriculum and funding opportunities. Pizzetta and her husband, Charlie Brown, live on Manhattan’s Upper West Side with their daughters, Stephanie and Charlotte.


Mississippi State architecture alumni join CDFL leadership

April 5th, 2017 Comments Off on Mississippi State architecture alumni join CDFL leadership

Architects Chris Myers and Newell Watkins (standing, from left); Matthew Buchanan and Katie Lightsey Browning (sitting, from left) Image Credit: CDFL

Via CDFL

CDFL is proud to share some exciting news about additions to our firm’s leadership team! Architects Chris Myers, AIA; Matthew Buchanan, AIA; and Newell Watkins, AIA, have recently been named Principals of the firm. Additionally, architect Katie Lightsey Browning, AIA, has been elevated to the position of firm Associate.

“We are thrilled to add these incredibly talented architects to our leadership team,” said CDFL President Rob Farr. “As we look to the future of the firm, we know that Chris, Matthew, Newell, and Katie’s experience and fresh perspective will be invaluable tools for both our team and our clients.”

Upon graduating from Mississippi State University in 2001, Chris Myers joined the CDFL team where he has accrued a wide variety of experience in military, institutional, and corporate projects. His primary expertise is in project management, and his passion lies in community involvement. Chris served as an Associate of the firm for three years prior to being named Principal.

Matthew Buchanan, a member of the CDFL team since 2001, is experienced in civic, institutional, and educational project types. These days, however, Matthew’s primary focus is athletic facility design. Matthew is a graduate of Mississippi State University and served as an Associate of the firm for three years prior to being named Principal.

A graduate of Mississippi State University, Newell Watkins focuses on integrating BIM technologies with the firm’s design strategies. Newell has a broad range of experience, having worked with educational, institutional, and civic clients and is licensed in Mississippi and Georgia. Newell has been a part of the CDFL team for four years.

Katie Lightsey Browning has over 9 years of experience providing architectural and planning services for a wide range of project types. She has gained valuable experience providing design services for the University of Mississippi, the State of Mississippi, and private entities. She is a graduate of Mississippi State University.

Congratulations to this outstanding group! We are grateful for their continued commitment to CDFL and look forward to watching them grow in their respective new roles.

School of Architecture alumna writes AIA ‘Springboard’ column

March 31st, 2017 Comments Off on School of Architecture alumna writes AIA ‘Springboard’ column

via https://www.aiadallas.org/v/columns-detail/Towards-Equity/ps/

Gianna Pigford, AIA (S|ARC class of 2000) was recently featured in AIA’s “Springboard” column.

Check it out here, or read it below:

Towards Equity

Who am I?
I’m 41 years old. Seventeen plus years of my life have been spent trying to fit into the architecture community. I’m a black female architect.

I’ve been called a diva, told I wasn’t assertive enough, told to watch my tone, told that I wasn’t confident, told I act like I know everything, spoken of as though I know nothing … Well admittedly, I am stubborn and tenacious while sometimes quiet and reserved. (By the way, this is not a recommended character trait combination.) A few years ago I was struggling to overcome some career hurdles and a friend gave great advice: “Be who you were meant to become.” At this point in my career, I simply will not be denied a seat at the table, even if I have to build the seat myself.

In reality, anyone should have an opportunity to occupy any given seat without barriers, gaps, and roadblocks preventing access. Perhaps the emerging gray hairs have brought some wisdom in that I no longer complain and sulk about what I have not been given. So no, I didn’t encounter my first mentor until age 37. I didn’t have the sensei to groom my leadership abilities and professional acumen. I accept that my process shouldn’t have been as fraught with missteps, but it was. I am the product of many false starts and giant leaps of faith.

So what’s my story?

In short, I grew up in Deep South Mississippi where I dealt with almost every socio-economic statistic that is known. When I decided I wanted to become an architect, I couldn’t even correctly pronounce the word. Without pure luck and happenstance, I would not have entered into the school of architecture because I certainly did not know any architects nor have means to connect with them as my post high school guidance narrowed quickly to just me. I didn’t know there was a separate school of architecture application beyond the general university admission requirements. By luck, I ran into the dean of the Mississippi State University School of Architecture and my father happened to mention my name to an architect.

I hastened my A.R.E. testing to become one of the first black female architects licensed in Mississippi after I had learned there were none licensed in the state. But once licensed, I didn’t push to be given opportunities on projects that would stretch my capabilities or develop the required professional soft skills. Unfortunately, I thought hard work alone was the key to a successful career. Once enlightened, I joined the various organizations and leadership development programs that would give me the industry exposure and leadership skills that I lacked. I’ve since become an active leader in my architecture firm and community.

Not everyone is as lucky, or stubborn enough, to overcome the challenges. So how is access to the profession granted and how is it sustained when one doesn’t have circumstance and means of their own? Exclusion exists. Once we all nod our heads together and agree on that, we can move on to address equity. I know for a lot of those in my African-American community if a change is coming it will have to start with my round brown face. I have to be a part of the pipeline that smooths the process for those minorities entering the profession.

So what is equity?

Some confuse the word equality with equity, but they are not the same and should not be used interchangeably. Per Merriam-Webster, equality is defined as “the quality or state of being equal” whereas equity in this context is defined as “fairness or justice in the way people are treated.” Equity is not about leveling the playing field—that is equality, and equality is nearly impossible to achieve within the construct of current society. An equitable environment intends that everyone is given the resources they need to thrive, as opposed to an equal environment in which everyone is given exactly the same resources. An excellent example of equality versus equity that many may have seen is the cartoon where three youths of different heights are standing at a fence. If given equally-sized boxes to stand on, the shortest person still cannot see over the fence. However, this is easily mediated if the tallest person, who doesn’t need the box to see over the fence, gives his to the shortest person.

Thus, without equity, the career achievements of minority architects will be different than those of affluent white men in architecture. To address equity in architecture, we need to go beyond inclusion alone, that notion that a minority represented on a project team or firm’s organizational chart is enough. Equity is more than that. A more equitable architectural profession is one in which the disparity in access to higher education, job opportunities, career development, and firm leadership is eliminated. Those underrepresented demographics in terms of race, ethnicity, gender, country of origin, religion, sexual orientation, physical ability, age, and so forth have much to bring to the profession and should be supported with their diversity leveraged for the benefit of society and the built environment.

Why does it matter?

I’m deeply honored to be asked to write this piece, not because “equity” is a current buzzword in the architecture community, but because it is important that I exist as a representative in this community. I speak to college, high school, and elementary students at almost every opportunity I get because my existence matters. I will likely be the only black female architect that they will ever meet in their lifetime. I know this because I met my first African-American female architect, Charyl McAfee-Duncan, FAIA, at age 32. In a recent conversation with a recent college graduate, a woman of color, I asked, “How many black female architects do you know?” Her answer: “Until now, I hadn’t met any.”

I always count. I mean literally, I count the number of minorities in architecture. It is as natural as daylight for me to notice how many minority architects are in the room—be they female or ethnic minority. When I’m involved in an industry-related organization, I take a look at how many are on the board or within architecture firms, how many minorities lead task forces, committees, events, and so on. I’ll attend an AIA event this week, and yes, I’ll count. In an office of over 200 professionals, I am one. When over 230 titled staff members gather as a representation of regional firm leadership, I am one. Yes, the only black female architect in the room.

To speak of women in architecture, at some point you look around and wonder, where are they? Even though my college graduating class was almost equally male and female, there is a significant number of the women architects that are no longer practicing. The recent “Equity in Architecture Survey 2016 Early Findings Report” show that the five career “pinch points[1]” for women still exist. This report completed by the AIASF Equity by Design (formerly The Missing 32% Project) looks at how women are underrepresented in the profession and what obstacles they face. It is intended that the survey will enlighten the industry on how gender and race differences limit career potential and challenge employee retention. How will academia and the profession mitigate the disparity?

Gender barriers are discriminatory and disruptive to career ascension. The World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report notes the gaps between men and women on economic, political, education, and health criteria by country. It aims to create awareness and challenges a global audience to reduce those gaps. The United States ranks 45th in the organization’s 2016 Gender Gap Index. According to this study, there is a noticeable gap between men’s and women’s access to resources and opportunities, which inhibits women’s economic gains and societal achievements. Yes, most women and men know this, yet the gap exists with no actionable item being presented as to how it can be eradicated.

Australia has made considerable strides to close its gender gap. Parlour, an organization focused on promoting gender equity in Australian architecture, has conducted extensive research to show that the pay gap (I really tried not to mention this) and other unequitable practices exist. It also identifies ways to do away with these. Consequently, (in association with the Australian Institute of Architects) the “Parlour Guidelines to Equitable Practice” were released in 2014 with the primary resolve to stop women from leaving architectural practice. This guideline is intended to help Australian architecture firms open dialogue and develop strategies for work-life balance, transparent pay (dang, mentioned it again), equal training opportunities, supportive workplace environments, recruitment, leadership, breaks away from career, and advancement. Parlour’s platform is robust and enviable and I hope to see a comparable network of like minds here in the United States. Assuredly, all of the very same architecture ills that Australia faces reside on our soil, too.

Equity is everyone’s issue. It does not only belong to the disenfranchised women and other minorities in architecture. We, the architecture community as a whole, should believe that diversity in representation matters. Those designing for a diverse environment should be reflective of that environment.

An equitable future.

On March 12, 2007, I received my congratulatory letter from the Mississippi State Board of Architecture that notified me that my application for registration was approved. That same month, ARCHITECT magazine had a black woman on the cover with the feature story titled “0.2%.” I remember calling the one other black woman who graduated with me from Mississippi State University—we cried together. These two items, magazine and letter, now quietly sit on a shelf in my house, speaking loudly of what few forward movements have been made.

That particular magazine article referenced the Directory of African American Architects and the 196 black women licensed to practice architecture out of approximately 91,000 registered in the United States. I was either number 201 or 202 to be listed. Per the current Directory of African American Architects database, there are now 2,082 licensed African-American architects listed, and of those there are 378 licensed women. In a state of more than 11,500 licensed architects, I am one of 21 black women. In the Dallas/Fort Worth area, I am one of five licensed black female architects.

In a short few months, it will be 10 years since I became a registered professional. I would like to say that huge strides have been made, and in some regard they have, but in reality there have been minute steps forward with a nod to the future. In the past two years, we have seen the momentum building with the first Equity by Design survey and report issued in 2014, Rosa Sheng’s 2015 TEDx Philadelphia speech “Why Does Equity in Architecture Matter,” and the release of last year’s 2016 Women in Architecture Survey.

What does the architecture community look like today and what is our future? So here is the dimly lit hope that sits on the horizon. In 2015, AIA San Francisco and the AIA Council sponsored a resolution that was passed overwhelmingly by the AIA membership. More than a year has passed since “Resolution 15-1: Equity in Architecture” was approved and the Equity in Architecture Commission was established, but I’m hopeful that those I personally know who were appointed to this commission will indeed “utilize metrics-driven knowledge, collaborative discussion, and definitive action to develop specific recommendations that will lead to equitable practices, investing in a diversity that mirrors society at large within all levels of the Institute, academia, and the profession of architecture.”

So until that equitable future sits more brightly on the horizon, I’ll speak, I’ll participate, I’ll mentor, I’ll teach, and yes, I’ll continue to count. Perhaps one day in the not so distant future, “diversity and inclusion” will no longer be a distinction necessitated by its absence, and I’ll simply be Gianna Pigford, architect.

 

Gianna Pigford, AIA is an associate at Gensler.

School of Architecture announces 2017 Recognition Day Speaker

March 28th, 2017 Comments Off on School of Architecture announces 2017 Recognition Day Speaker

Belinda Stewart, FAIA, will present the annual Dr. William L. and Jean Giles Memorial Lecture for the School of Architecture’s 2017 Recognition Day.

 

Recognition Day honors Mississippi State University School of Architecture students and faculty and will be held in the Robert and Freda Harrison Auditorium on Fri., May 5 at 1 p.m.

Stewart is principal of Belinda Stewart Architects PA, a rural architectural firm specializing in historic preservation and in new construction in historically significant environments. Stewart, a graduate of the Mississippi State University School of Architecture, moved back to her hometown area 27 years ago and established her firm in the small town of Eupora. She firmly believes in the power of our small towns to inspire, that family roots can build an ethic that weaves through a profession, and that architecture can see beauty in our history and hope in our future. Her firm understands that their work is more than architecture but a way to make a positive difference in the life of a person and their community. They are people connected to place. They have helped plan, seek funding and/or implement many successful projects throughout the region, and in so doing have received more than 70 design/preservation awards primarily for new and rehabilitated public facilities. The firm’s portfolio includes courthouses, downtown commercial buildings, municipal buildings, university buildings, museums, visitor centers, train depots and theaters.

This is the final lecture in an annual series made possible through a generous gift by Dr. Robert V. M. Harrison, FAIA, FCSI, and his wife, Freda. See past Harrison Lectures.

School of Architecture holds third Dan and Gemma Camp Classical Workshop

March 27th, 2017 Comments Off on School of Architecture holds third Dan and Gemma Camp Classical Workshop


The third annual Dan and Gemma Camp Classical Workshop was held on Fri., March 24 in the Robert and Freda Harrison Auditorium in Giles Hall.

A two-part lecture discussing history/design context and restoration of the Mississippi Capitol was led by Jennifer Baughn, chief architectural historian with the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, and the School of Architecture’s own architect Lawson Newman with WFT Architects in Jackson.

A reception followed hosted by Alpha Rho Chi.

The program was made possible by an endowed gift from founder and developer of Starkville’s Cotton District development Dan and his wife Gemma, as well as generous gifts from Briar (S|ARC Class of 1994) and Michelle Jones.

See the full Harrison Lecture series schedule.

Architecture alumni Mark and Madison Talley featured in Ocean Springs Gazette

March 27th, 2017 Comments Off on Architecture alumni Mark and Madison Talley featured in Ocean Springs Gazette

Mark (2010) and Madison Talley (2011), owners of TALLstudio Architecture PLLC in Ocean Springs, were recently featured in an article in the Ocean Springs Gazette.

Check out the article!

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