Register now for MSU School of Architecture’s TIMBR Symposium

September 2nd, 2016 Comments Off on Register now for MSU School of Architecture’s TIMBR Symposium

By Sasha Steinberg | Mississippi State University

Mississippi State’s School of Architecture is hosting a Timber Innovations for Mississippi Buildings Reimagined (TIMBR) Symposium Thursday-Friday [Sept. 15-16] on the Starkville campus.

Registration is free and must be completed by Sept. 10 at American Institute of Architects (AIA) continuing education units will be provided.

Funded in part by a $10,000 Community Partnership Grant from internationally recognized nonprofit Sustainable Forestry Initiative Inc. (SFI), the daylong event will bring together architects, engineers, students, educators, researchers, timberland owners and forest product professionals, among others.

MSU Assistant Professor of Architecture Jacob A. “Jake” Gines said this first-of-its-kind event will focus on mass-timber innovations and their potential application in the construction industry for Mississippi and the Southern region of the U.S.

Sustainable forest management can provide strategic long-term benefits for the Magnolia State, Gines emphasized.

“Mississippi contains approximately 19.8 million acres of forested land, which accounts for 64 percent of the state’s total area,” he said. “The value of timber harvested in Mississippi has averaged in excess of $1 billion per year over the past 20 years and accounts for over 70,000 jobs in the state.”

Gines said funding also was provided by a $12,000 grant from the Mississippi Forestry Foundation and other industry partners. This fall, the grant is enabling fourth-year undergraduate architecture students’ participation in a wood-based design studio.

Focusing on recent innovations in wood products and construction methods, the studio 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. For more, visit

For complete details on the TIMBR Symposium, visit the above-mentioned websites or contact Gines at 662-325-0094 or

The School of Architecture is part of MSU’s College of Architecture, Art and Design.

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at

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 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.”

CAAD hosts design summer camp in downtown Jackson

July 28th, 2016 Comments Off on CAAD hosts design summer camp in downtown Jackson

(Video by Kamau Bostic)

(above photos by Lori Neuenfeldt)

By Sasha Steinberg | Mississippi State University

Mississippi State’s College of Architecture, Art and Design recently hosted a design camp for students from the Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Mississippi.

Held June 20–24, the five-day summer experience in Jackson had a goal of helping students in the Greater Jackson community develop their interests in architecture, art, community development, design, engineering, planning, social justice and related professional fields.

Students gained knowledge of design tools and media through individual and group workshops focused on design, sketching, photography, graphic design, model building, sculpture and construction, among other skills. Collaboration, leadership and communication skills were developed, which will help students increase their self-confidence in these areas, leaders said.

Faculty of MSU’s College of Architecture, Art and Design—as well as those from the university’s College of Business—led students in collaborative and creative activities focused on design education. MSU alumni are led discussions on design-related career opportunities and provided information about their educational and professional experiences.

CAAD Associate Dean and Professor Greg Hall said the camp was designed to help expose students to the wide variety and scope of educational and career opportunities in design fields ranging from architecture to graphic design and interior design to fashion, as well as related fields such as engineering and construction.

“One of our primary goals is to help students form educational and professional goals that they can continue to develop during their high school education, regardless of their eventual career choice,” Hall said.

In addition to being funded in part by a $5,000 grant from the Community Foundation of Greater Jackson, this year’s camp is supported by MSU’s College of Architecture, Art and Design, its School of Architecture and Department of Art, the Holmes Cultural Diversity Center and Office of the Registrar.

Lori Neuenfeldt, MSU art instructor and gallery director, and architect Emily Roush-Elliott of the university’s Carl Small Town Center, served as camp co-directors.

The college plans to host sessions for teachers this fall and expects to expand the camp into other areas in the future.

For additional camp information, contact Hall at 662-325-2509 or

Final Day/Exhibit:

State Spotlight: Architecture project provides Boys and Girls Club garden

July 25th, 2016 Comments Off on State Spotlight: Architecture project provides Boys and Girls Club garden

(Photos by Megan Bean | Mississippi State University)

Starkville Boys and Girls Club youth are benefitting from a community garden designed by Mississippi State University architecture students.

Featuring six raised beds and a shade area built by students during the spring semester, the project has continued through the summer with MSU student, faculty and staff volunteers working with the youth to plant and grow vegetables.

In addition to faculty and students from MSU’s College of Architecture, Art and Design, collaboration has come from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, College of Education and the university’s Horticulture Club.

See the State Spotlight!

Book edited by fifth-year philosophy of architecture lecturer to be released in September

July 8th, 2016 Comments Off on Book edited by fifth-year philosophy of architecture lecturer to be released in September


David Bowie and Philosophy: Rebel, Rebel – edited by Theodore “Ted” G. Ammon, Ph.D. – is currently available for pre-order on Amazon. The book will go on sale Sept. 6.

Jackson-native Ammon, an associate professor of philosophy at Millsaps College, teaches the philosophy of architecture course at the Mississippi State University School of Architecture’s Jackson Center.

The associate professor has also edited Conversations with William H. Gass as well as authored Imagine U.

“As one can see, the quality of the adjunct faculty teaching in our Jackson Center fifth-year program is stellar,” said Director and F.L. Crane Professor Michael Berk. “We are so fortunate to have a nationally-recognized philosopher engaging with our students in their final year of study.” 

About the book – via

“The philosophically rich David Bowie is an artist of wide and continuing influence. The theatrical antics of Bowie ushered in a new rock aesthetic, but there is much more to Bowie than mere spectacle. The visual belies the increasing depths of his concerns, even at his lowest personal moments. We never know what lies in store in a Bowie song, for there is no point in his nearly 30 albums at which one can say, “That’s typical Bowie!” Who else has combined techno and hard rock, switched to R&B love songs (with accompanying gospel) to funk to jazz-rock fusion and back again?

Among the topics explored in David Bowie and Philosophy are the nature of Bowie as an institution and a cult; Bowie’s work in many platforms, including movies and TV; Bowie’s spanning of low and high art; his relation to Andy Warhol; the influence of Buddhism and Kabuki theater; the recurring theme of Bowie as a space alien; the dystopian element in Bowie’s thinking; the role of fashion in Bowie’s creativity; the aesthetics of theatrical rock and glam rock; and Bowie’s public identification with bisexuality and his influence within the LGBTQ community.”

See the announcement in MSU’s Maroon Memo.

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

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

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

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

(photo by Russ Houston / © Mississippi State University)

(photo by Russ Houston / © Mississippi State University)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Waddell’s buildings include:

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

—Casa Baldi by Paolo Portoghesi in Rome, Italy;

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Read more about the award.

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

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

John Poros (Photo by Megan Bean)

John Poros (Photo by Megan Bean)

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


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

via Stride website

via Stride website

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Emeritus professor featured in The Anniston Star

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

Josh Gray and Rachel McCann (photo via

Josh Gray and Rachel McCann (photo via

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

By Erin Williams | The Anniston Star

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

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

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

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

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

Change, she did.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MSU-led design project selected for prominent New York exhibition

May 26th, 2016 Comments Off on MSU-led design project selected for prominent New York exhibition

More than 100 Mississippi State students contributed to the Oktibbeha County Heritage Museum’s SuperUse Pavilion, a part of the museum’s rain garden program that recently has been selected for exhibition at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum in New York City beginning in late September. (Photo by Megan Bean)

More than 100 Mississippi State students contributed to the Oktibbeha County Heritage Museum’s SuperUse Pavilion, a part of the museum’s rain garden program that recently has been selected for exhibition at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum in New York City beginning in late September. (Photo by Megan Bean)

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The Oktibbeha County Heritage Museum’s SuperUse Pavilion, a part of the museum’s rain garden program that benefitted from the efforts of more than 100 Mississippi State undergraduate and graduate-level students, recently has been selected for exhibition at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum in New York City.

The exhibition, “By the People: Designing a Better America,” will open in late September and showcases the innovative and impactful actions generated through design. Organized by Cynthia E. Smith, Cooper Hewitt’s curator of socially responsible design, the exhibition features 60 design projects from every region across the U.S. For more, visit

The SuperUse Pavilion was selected in recognition of the efforts of MSU students studying architecture, art, building construction science, graphic design, landscape architecture and landscape contracting who designed and built the museum’s new event and exhibition pavilion.

The site also will be featured in a forthcoming book published by Cooper Hewitt. Hans C. Herrmann, MSU associate professor of architecture, and Cory Gallo, MSU associate professor of landscape architecture, will represent the project team during the museum’s press event this fall.

Marked by the adaptive reuse of a former gas station pump canopy, once positioned adjacent to Stromboli’s Pizzeria in downtown Starkville, the SuperUse Pavilion offers occupants a working example of how sustainable design and construction may be achieved using low-cost and readily available materials that often are regarded as waste rather than raw material.

The steel frame of the gas station canopy was reinforced and reconfigured to accommodate an extensive living roof system, made accessible by the repurposing of a circular staircase salvaged from a church slated for demolition in Memphis, Tennessee. The SuperUse Pavilion employs LED lighting technology along with high durability materials to demonstrate a low-tech response to the sustainable design demands of the future, Herrmann said.

“The exhibition is a fantastic recognition of the design and construction that has been taking place here at MSU under the guidance of both the architecture and landscape architecture programs,” Herrmann said. Herrmann, Gallo and other team members expressed appreciation for the contributions of MSU students, faculty, extension services, local business supporters and community volunteers who helped make the SuperUse Pavilion and Heritage Museum Rain Garden Project possible.

As a component of the larger museum grounds improvement project, the pavilion joins additional sustainable design features, including a 700 square-foot rain garden, 200 square-foot sand filter, 1,000-gallon rainwater cistern, an American Disabilities Act-compliant museum entrance, along with more than 1,000 square feet of new landscape plantings.

The museum pavilion, rain garden and MSU faculty involved have received eight national and regional awards for teaching, collaborative practice and design. Most recently, the SuperUse Pavilion was recognized by the American Institute of Architects, Mississippi Chapter, with one of only two chapter Honor Awards granted in 2015.

The Oktibbeha County Heritage Museum is located at 206 Fellowship Street in Starkville. Museum hours are 1-4 p.m., Tuesday-Thursday, and by appointment. While admission is free, donations are encouraged. Learn more at

The School of Architecture in MSU’s College of Architecture, Art and Design offers the only curriculum in the state leading to a professional degree in architecture. The school offers an intense, carefully structured and rich array of courses that constitute a solid foundation for architectural practice. For more, visit

The Department of Landscape Architecture in MSU’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences fosters the will and ability to plan, design, build and manage regenerative communities. Students explore the design process, storm water design, energy flow, native landscapes and plant materials, green infrastructure, sustainability, community planning and regional planning. For more, visit

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at

Founded in 1897, Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum is the only museum in the United States devoted exclusively to historic and contemporary design. Cooper Hewitt aims to educate, inspire and empower people through design by presenting exhibitions and educational programs and maintaining active publications.

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