November 16th, 2015 Comments Off on MSU professor invited to White House conference
John Poros will attend a conference on rural development at the White House Nov. 17. (Photo by Megan Bean)
By Zack Plair | Mississippi State University
A Mississippi State University faculty member has earned an invitation to the White House for a conference focused on better rural development.
John Poros, an associate professor of architecture and director for the Carl Small Town Center at MSU, will attend The White House Convening on Rural Placemaking on Tuesday [Nov. 17]. The event will include federal, state and local public sector officials, national non-profit organizations, foundations and individuals to better align federal, state and philanthropic work to support and leverage the power of “placemaking” – a citizen-led process that helps activate downtowns and community gathering places.
The Carl Small Town Center has worked with Mississippi communities for more than 30 years, said Poros, the center’s leader for the last eight years. He said his team – which includes an assistant director and roughly a dozen undergraduates from the College of Architecture, Art and Design – work on designs for several community projects each year, ranging from parks, plazas and public buildings to improvements to historic structures and entire downtown districts.
“There are so many places in a rural environment that are important and can provide a sense of place,” Poros said. “When you’re talking about public spaces, you’re talking about quality of life issues.”
Most recently, Poros noted, the center designed a park and pavilion for the town of Houston, Mississippi, to anchor the Tanglefoot Trail, a 44-mile bike trail that runs from Houston to New Albany and helps drive tourism in the area. He said the center also has worked with communities such as Corinth, Laurel, Cleveland, Greenwood, Pass Christian and Jackson.
The White House Rural Council is partnering with Project for Public Spaces and the National Main Street Center to host Tuesday’s convening. It represents a new approach, said Director of the White House Office of Management and Budget Shaun Donovan, in partnering communities with federal resources to create public spaces that generate pride and economic development.
“It’s pretty simple. First, we partner with communities by seeking out their plans or vision. Second, we take a one-government approach that crosses agency and program silos to support communities in implementing their plans for improvement,” Donovan said in an email statement about the program. “Finally we focus on what works, using data to measure success and monitor progress.”
At the Washington convening, Poros said he hopes to share MSU’s knowledge and experience in dealing with rural communities, as well as learn about “common problems” and “common goals” among others attending from across the country. He called it “very heartening” to see the White House administration involved in advancing rural placemaking.
“These types of projects could have an enormous impact on the survival of some of these rural communities,” he said.
For more information on the Carl Small Town Center, visit http://carlsmalltowncenter.org/.
November 3rd, 2015 Comments Off on David Perkes presents final fall 2015 Harrison Lecture
David Perkes, founding director for Mississippi State University’s Gulf Coast Community Design Studio in Biloxi, presented the final Harrison Lecture for the fall on Fri., Oct. 30, in the Robert and Freda Harrison Auditorium in Giles Hall.
Perkes discussed the work of the Gulf Coast Community Design Studio and how the research center got its start.
He then used seven social-ecological principals to talk about resilience: maintain diversity/redundancy, manage connectivity, manage slow variables, complex adaptive systems, encourage learning, broaden participation, and promote polycentric governance.
“The work of our time is to figure out how to make resilient communities,” said Perkes, who challenged students to figure out what that means to them and their future work as architects.
Joining School of Architecture students, faculty, staff and friends were MSU Vice President for Research and Economic Development David Shaw and and Associate Vice President for Research J.A. “Drew” Hamilton Jr.
A reception was held after the lecture in the Giles Gallery, which is currently showcasing work from both of the College of Architecture, Art and Design research centers – the Gulf Coast Community Design Studio and the Carl Small Town Center – as well as undergraduate research.
October 15th, 2015 Comments Off on Architecture students, faculty hope Delta research will impact state
Edward Holmes and Ben Marshall, fourth-year architecture students and members of the Audit Squad, work in Greenwood.
When Enterprise Rose Architectural Fellow Emily Roush-Elliot recently secured a grant to conduct energy audits on a sample of low income housing in Greenwood, she knew just who to call on – the Audit Squad!
Using equipment she purchased from a previous grant, Assistant Professor of Architecture Emily McGlohn and her students, the Audit Squad, joined with Roush-Elliot to test air infiltration rates of 28 houses in Greenwood.
The group, which includes architecture student research assistants Ashtyn Bryant, Edward Holmes and Ben Marshall, has made six trips to Greenwood to conduct the tests where they are comparing the newly installed Katrina Houses in Baptist Town to a span of similar types of houses built in the area in 50s, 60s and 90s.
“Poor air infiltration rates – how much air passes through the building’s envelope – has monetary and health burdens associated with it,” explained McGlohn. “And a lot of times, low income housing isn’t very energy efficient. Since high air infiltration rates relate to how much heating and cooling you are losing, they also relate to high utility bills,” said McGlohn, “our goal is to identity issues and make recommendations to homeowners for improvements.”
The group is using their results to create “home energy retrofit” kits and a brochure that will explain what is causing higher energy bills and how to install easy fixes provided in the kits. Kits will include items such as caulk, weather stripping, window unit air conditioner covers, etc.)
“One of the biggest issues we see is that homeowners often keep their a.c. units in the window during the winter. So, covers will be included in the kits as an easy fix to help keep some of the heat from escaping,” said McGlohn.
The Audit Squad hopes the information they are gathering will encourage other housing nonprofits throughout the state to invest in home energy retrofits for their clients and to build more efficiently to begin with.
October 1st, 2015 Comments Off on MSU research center fellow selected for prestigious Japanese program
An architect with Mississippi State’s College of Architecture, Art and Design recently returned from a week-long collaborative learning experience in Japan as part of an international group of young professionals.
Emily Roush-Elliott was selected for The Outstanding Young Persons Program of Osaka’s Junior Chamber International organization. She is the Enterprise Rose Architectural Fellow at the Fred Carl Small Town Center, the research arm of MSU’s School of Architecture.
Since 1981, the Japanese organization has worked “to encourage mutual understanding and communications beyond national frameworks.” Annually, it invites less than a dozen individuals representing a variety of career fields throughout the world to gather, discuss, learn from and encourage each other.
This year’s TOYP program covered a range of critical issues and was designed to expand the participants’ knowledge of and appreciation for the Pacific island nation’s highly evolved culture.
Roush-Elliot expressed appreciation for being selected, adding that she was “particularly excited” about this year’s program theme, “Designing Society for Equity.”
“Utilizing design thinking to respond to the globe’s most complex social equity challenges is at the core of my work and the work of the organizations of which I am a part,” she said.
“It was a great honor to be chosen as a participant. The JCI Osaka members were gracious and attentive hosts who introduced us to Japanese culture while also engaging us around issues of national importance, such as gender inequity and a parallel decline in population and economic growth,” she added.
In 2012, the Carl Center became one of only four national organizations designated to receive an Enterprise Rose Architectural Fellow.
Roush-Elliot arrived at MSU early the following year and since has lead the Baptist Town Neighborhood Reinvestment project in Greenwood. She holds degrees in design from Arizona State University and architecture from the University of Cincinnati.
During her time in the Leflore County seat, Roush-Elliot has focused on planning and constructing a park, playground, streetscapes and signage. She also has opened a community center and organized participatory activities in the Central Delta community.
Additionally, her multi-disciplinary MSU team had completed an 11-unit modular housing project in which low-income families were able to purchase new homes from the Greenwood-Leflore Fuller Center for Housing.
Roush-Elliot joins nearly 200 that have been selected for the prestigious Japanese program since it was established more than three decades ago. Among others are Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple Inc.; former presidential aide Roger B. Porter; and Cameron Sinclair, co-founder of Architecture for Humanity.
Greg G. Hall, associate dean of MSU’s College of Architecture, Art and Design, was a 1994 selection. He described the program as a valuable opportunity to discuss critical issues with colleagues from around the world, as well as Japanese business leaders.
“We’re excited that Emily was invited to participate,” he added. “Her experience as an architect and her work with the Carl Small Town Center in the Mississippi Delta provide an especially important viewpoint.”
The national Enterprise Rose Architectural Fellowship was created to provide a select group of the nation’s most outstanding early-career architects with opportunities for first-hand training and experience in sustainable community design work. For more, visit The Enterprise Rose Architectural Fellowship.
See the article of MSU’s website.
September 11th, 2015 Comments Off on Carl Small Town Center fellow selected for prestigious Japanese young professionals program
Emily Roush-Elliott, Enterprise Rose Architectural Fellow with Mississippi State’s Carl Small Town Center, has been selected to participate in the The Outstanding Young Persons (TOYP) Program in Osaka, Japan. Roush-Elliot is one of several young professionals around the world selected to participate in this year’s week-long program in September.
Since 1981, the Junior Chamber International Osaka has been inviting 5-10 young people each year who work in a variety of fields all over the world “to encourage mutual understanding and communications beyond national frameworks.” At TOYP, participants discuss, learn and encourage each other on a variety of subjects and learn about Japanese culture.
“I am honored to be selected to participate in TOYP 2015,” said Roush-Elliot. “I am particularly excited about the Designing Society for Equity theme this year. Utilizing design thinking to respond the globe’s most complex social equity challenges is at the core of my work and the work of the organizations I am a part of. I am confident that TOYP will advance my thinking and provide invaluable connections that I can bring back to Mississippi.”
Roush-Elliot will add to the 187 who have attended since the program’s start, including special guests such as Steve Wozniak, the co-Founder of Apple; former presidential aide Roger B. Porter; and Cameron Sinclair, co-founder of Architecture for Humanity. See a full list of past attendees.
Greg G. Hall, associate dean of the College of Architecture, Art and Design, participated in TOYP in 1994, and described the program as a valuable opportunity to discuss critical issues with colleagues from around the world as well as Japanese business leaders.
“We’re excited that Emily has been invited to participate. Her experience as an architect and her work with the college’s Carl Small Town Center in the Mississippi Delta will provide an especially important viewpoint.”
Roush-Elliot, who holds a Master of Architecture from the University of Cincinnati and a Bachelor of Science in Design from Arizona State University, began working as a Rose Fellow with the Carl Small Town Center in January 2013 and has been leading the Baptist Town Neighborhood Reinvestment project. During her tenure, she has worked to plan and build a park, playground, streetscapes, signage and community events, as well as open a community center in the Delta community. Additionally, her multi-disciplinary team completed an eleven-unit modular affordable housing project in which low-income families were able to purchase new homes from the Greenwood-Leflore Fuller Center for Housing, utilizing 15-year, 0% interest mortgages.
The Enterprise Rose Architectural Fellowship offers a select few of the nation’s finest, early career architects the opportunity for first-hand training and experience in sustainable community design work. Mississippi State’s Carl Small Town Center – a research center in the College of Architecture, Art and Design – was one of just four national organizations to receive an Enterprise Rose Architectural Fellow in 2012.
August 12th, 2015 Comments Off on Carl Small Town Center featured in HUD’s EDGE magazine
First-Time Homeownership with the Baptist Town Cottages
In the historic African American community of Baptist Town in Greenwood, Mississippi, 10 families recently realized the dream of homeownership with Baptist Town Cottages. The preassembled cottages were among the several thousand houses built for families in Mississippi and other Gulf Coast states displaced by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Working with numerous local partners, the Greenwood/Leflore Fuller Center for Housing acquired the Baptist Town Cottages and sold them to families in 2014. The cottages are part of the Baptist Town neighborhood revitalization project, which includes new parks, streetscape improvements, job training, and a community center.
A Proud History, but Lingering Problems
Baptist Town has a rich history stretching back to the post-Civil War era. Residents maintain that their community was one of the first in the Mississippi Delta where freed slaves could own property. Seventy years later, famous blues singers Robert Johnson and David “Honeyboy” Edwards were drawn to the community, based on its reputation as a haven for aspiring musicians who wanted to escape working in the fields. During the 1960s, civil rights groups used Greenwood as a base of operations to reach African Americans in the Mississippi Delta between Memphis and Jackson.
Despite the efforts of civil rights leaders, the city of Greenwood continues to be highly segregated and experiences many of the ills associated with segregation. Fifty percent of the estimated 10,000 African American residents of Greenwood live below the federal poverty level. Cut off from the city’s downtown by railroad tracks and a bayou, the Baptist Town neighborhood needs new investment, particularly quality, affordable housing. Many of Baptist Town’s houses were built for sharecroppers and are now largely dilapidated. A Harvard University survey of 165 homes in Baptist Town found that 136 were substandard.
According to Emily Roush-Elliott, an architectural fellow at Enterprise Community Partners which manages the cottage project, the built environment often reinforces social and economic inequity instead of helping residents. One of the goals of the Baptist Town Cottages is to reverse some of that inequity by providing desperately needed affordable housing and helping residents build financial equity through homeownership.
Baptist Town Cottages
Women from the Ladies in Landscaping program learned new skills by creating a stormwater management garden. Credit: Emily Roush-Elliott
In 2014, the Greenwood/Leflore Fuller Center for Housing installed the first 11 of 26 cottages that the state had donated to Greenwood several years earlier. The Fuller Center selected families, all of whom were first-time homebuyers, based on need and ability to pay. Other partners on the project included the Greenwood-Leflore-Carroll Economic Development Foundation (GLCEDF), Mississippi State University’s Carl Small Town Center, and Enterprise Community Partners. The Carl Small Town Center was an early proponent of Baptist Town’s rejuvenation, having created a master plan for the community in 2001. That planning effort led to Greenwood hosting a participant in the Enterprise Rose Architectural Fellowship program, which places architects within development organizations to add value to projects through design.
The homebuyers were required to volunteer for service in the community or provide sweat equity to complete the cottages. Roush-Elliott and the Fuller Center worked with the future occupants to customize certain features of their homes, such as some architectural details, the color scheme, and the location of their cottage on the development site. The homes and their foundations are designed to withstand hurricane-force winds and have thick walls built with 2x6s instead of 2x4s. The cottages’ tight building envelope reduces heat transfer to help maintain a comfortable indoor temperature. As residents finish their first year in their new homes, the energy performance of the buildings will be compared with that of a typical affordable home in Greenwood.
The installation and finishing of the cottages were seen as a “joint investment in both the built environment and human capacity,” says Roush-Elliott, and were used to enhance the job readiness of some Baptist Town residents. Local residents received on-the-job training in carpentry and other building trades as they helped complete the cottages. For work that required technical specialties, the project hired local and minority contractors. Also, Ladies in the Landscaping, a program that helped train eight minority women in landscaping, completed an eco-friendly stormwater management garden.
The homes are affordable to households earning less than 30, 50, 60, or 70 percent of the area median income. The homeowners financed their cottages using no-interest, 15-year mortgages, with average monthly payments ranging from $132 to $159. Through grants from the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas, the homeowners received $4,000 in downpayment assistance. Enterprise Community Partners’ Gulf Coast office sponsored homebuying workshops for families that included information on maintaining a home and credit counseling.
The total cost of the project was approximately $600,000, including the $232,477 estimated value of the cottages donated by the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency. The Fuller Center invested more than $350,000 in the project, which included a $45,000 loan from GLCEDF and grants and donations from local foundations, businesses, and individuals.
The Work Still to be Done
The Baptist Town Cottages are part of the larger Baptist Town Neighborhood Investment (BTNI) project, a collaboration involving GLCEDF, the Fuller Center, and other local organizations. Partners in BTNI, with significant funding from the Walton Family Foundation, have invested in public spaces, improved the walkability and visibility of streetscapes, and built a park designed by local youth. These smaller projects helped build community trust and overcome residents’ concerns about redevelopment promoted by nonresidents, says Roush-Elliott. After those projects were completed, residents became very supportive, she says, and actively helped complete the cottages. Residents now manage Baptist Town Community Development, a nonprofit that oversees the Baptist Town Community Center (which offers educational programs and health and fitness training), the community garden, and Baptist Town Day, an event held annually in October. Resident engagement is crucial to the long-term success of the remaining redevelopment projects — most importantly, installing the 15 remaining cottages.
Read more about the Baptist Town project.
August 11th, 2015 Comments Off on Hearin grant to pair MSU, Delta State
A grant from the Robert M. Hearin Support Foundation will allow two state universities to collaboratively research business opportunities in the Mississippi Delta.
With the $73,395 award, Mississippi State University’s Carl Small Town Center and the College of Business will partner with Delta State University’s Master of Business Administration program to determine if a “symbiotic district” is a feasible means for economic development in the Delta.
A symbiotic district involves a single site where businesses, community members and the building itself exchange products — such as garden vegetables, social services or cultural enrichment — and reuse their waste byproducts. The aim of this recycle-reuse collaborative is to create sustainable businesses and neighborhoods while helping the environment.
“Creating a symbiotic district in the Delta, where businesses will not only profit from their close economic relationship but also an ecological one, will provide a model for sustainable economic development throughout the state,” said John Poros, director of the Carl Small Town Center.
The grant also will fund a feasibility study in which MSU and Delta State MBA students, under the supervision of faculty outreach directors, will research possible business relationships in Delta communities for the project. Using those findings, the Carl Small Town Center’s national Enterprise Rose Architectural Fellow, Emily Roush Elliott, will then work with students from MSU’s School of Architecture to recruit potential business partners and secure buildings and site locations.
“We are pleased to be a part of this project that could provide a model for economic development not only in the Delta region, but throughout the state,” said Sharon Oswald, dean of MSU’s College of Business. “This is a great collaboration with not only the College of Architecture, Art and Design, but also our colleagues at Delta State.”
Robert Hearin Sr., the Mississippi Valley Gas Co. chairman and chief executive officer who died in 1992, established the Hearin Foundation in his will. It primarily supports the state’s higher education institutions and economic development.
The Carl Small Town Center, a research center within MSU’s College of Architecture, Art and Design, is named for Fred E. Carl Jr., a major university benefactor who founded Viking Range Corp. For more information on the center, visit http://carlsmalltowncenter.org/.
July 16th, 2015 Comments Off on Carl Small Town Center receives arts grant for Marks project
By Zach Plair | Mississippi State University
The Carl Small Town Center at Mississippi State is receiving a $25,000 National Endowment of the Arts grant to develop a cultural master plan for a North Delta community.
To feature an interpretive trail and center for the city of Marks, the university-developed plan will highlight and explain civil-rights related sites in the Quitman County seat and beginning point of the historic 1968 Poor People’s Campaign “Mule Train.”
Organized by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference–whose first president was Martin Luther King Jr.–the campaign featured a mule-pulled wagon train that began in Marks and ended in Washington, D.C. In the nation’s capital, the slow-moving travelers eventually joined 3,000 others from throughout the nation assembled at “Resurrection City,” a massive tent camp set up on the Washington Mall.
The D.C. event was a protest against living conditions faced by poor in the U.S. King twice had visited Marks and held it up as a symbol of America’s downtrodden.
“The Mule Train was really the start of the Poor People’s Campaign of 1968,” said associate professor John Poros, the MSU center’s director. “We are honored to be able to help the people of Marks make this piece of their history visible and present to visitors and community members through the NEA Our Town award.”
Now in its fifth year of funding Our Town projects, the independent federal agency this year is awarding 69 grants that total almost $5 million. The individual awards range from $25,000 to $200,000.
The grant program supports creative place-making projects designed to promote local community art and creativity. Since the program’s inception in 2011, NEA has awarded 325 Our Town grants totaling nearly $26 million.
“The Carl Small Town Center demonstrates the best in creative community development. This work will have a valuable impact on its community,” Jane Chu, NEA chairman, said.
“Through Our Town funding, arts organizations continue to spark vitality that support neighborhoods and public spaces, enhancing a sense of place for residents and visitors alike,” she added.
A research and service arm of MSU’s College of Architecture, Art and Design and its School of Architecture, the Carl Small Town Center works to help improve the quality of life and create economic opportunity in small towns by improving their physical environments.
Fred E. Carl Jr., a major Mississippi State benefactor and the 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 the university, he endowed a statewide community design outreach program in 1979 that was renamed in his honor.
See the story on WTVA.com.
April 13th, 2015 Comments Off on CAAD research center director has book chapter republished
Associate Professor John Poros, director of the Carl Small Town Center (CSTC), recently had a chapter re-published in the two-volume book, Architecture and Mathematics from Antiquity to the Future.
Vol. 1: Antiquity to the 1500s
Vol. 2: The 1950s and the Future
Poros’ chapter, “The Ruled Geometries of Marcel Breuer,”provides an important contribution to this research archive that highlights the diverse relationships between the disciplines of mathematics and architecture through the century.
April 10th, 2015 Comments Off on Grants help ‘Audit Squad’ get started
Students testing air infiltration rates of the new Katrina cottages in the Baptist Town neighborhood of Greenwood, MS. (Photo: Emily McGlohn)
Students testing air infiltration rates of a 20K House at Auburn University’s Rural Studio. They also demonstrated how to use the equipment.(Photo: Emily McGlohn)
Students testing air infiltration rates of the new Katrina cottages in the Baptist Town neighborhood of Greenwood, MS.(Photo: Emily McGlohn)
Students testing air infiltration rates of the new Katrina cottages in the Baptist Town neighborhood of Greenwood, MS. (Photo: Emily McGlohn)
Emily McGlohn has been experimenting with ways to introduce one of her research interests, the relationship between energy efficiency and the quality of construction, into the MSU’s School of Architecture curriculum while helping out the state at the same time.
“Building performance is easily tested with building diagnostic tools such as a blower door and thermal imaging camera,” said McGlohn.
So, the assistant professor used funds from her 2014 Schillig Grant, which she received for teaching excellence, to purchase the necessary testing equipment, and she secured a $500 Center for the Advancement of Service Learning Excellence (CASLE) mini grant to support travel.
McGlohn started an independent study course and recruited students interested in the topic. “The Audit Squad,” as she has dubbed the group, has been working this year to collect and analyze data.
In the fall, the Audit Squad – which includes Ria Bennet, third-year architecture major; Cody Smith, fourth-year architecture major; and Bill Plot, fourth-year building construction science major – traveled to Greenwood to test air infiltration rates of the new Katrina cottages in the Baptist Town neighborhood.
“The best way to understand how a building performs is to actually test it with tools,” said McGlohn, who explained that the lower the air infiltration rate, the better the envelope. “A high air infiltration rate signifies a leaky building.”
The group also paid a visit to the Auburn University’s Rural Studio to perform tests on some of their projects. While at the Rural Studio, McGlohn presented a lecture on air infiltration, and her Audit Squad shared what they had learned.
“The students loved it,” she said. “It was a lot of fun.”
After analyzing their results, the squad began working on their own independent research project, which they have submitted to the upcoming MSU Undergraduate Research Symposium. They used the newly purchased tools to test the air infiltration rates of a variety of student rental properties built in Starkville over the last 40 years to see if age has anything to do with the rates.
This summer, the research will continue in Greenwood.
Teaming up with the College of Architecture, Art and Design’s Enterprise Rose Fellow, Emily Roush Elliott, the Audit Squad will test the air infiltration rates of a variety of low-income housing in the Greenwood area to compare the typical rental property with more modern low-incoming housing.
The data will be analyzed next fall to try to quantify the monetary and health burdens that can come from leaky, low-income housing. The findings and suggestions for improvement will be shared in a brochure for distribution to nonprofit organizations that could benefit from the data.
“The overall main goal,” said McGlohn, “is to create a baseline metric of energy efficiency rates for low-income housing in the Mississippi Delta.”