Materials class visits Columbus Brick

February 23rd, 2015 Comments Off

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A group of 40 students in Assistant Professor Jacob Gines’ materials class recently visited Columbus Brick Company in Columbus.

A special thanks to Butch Reed, sales manager, who coordinated a tour of the plant’s entire operation for the group, which included a look at the raw materials as well as explanations of the processes of mixtures and molding, how the bricks are manufactured and the firing process.

This is the third year Gines has taken his class on a trip to Columbus Brick.

“It’s so wonderful the way they interact with the students,” he said. “For them to see the manual and then the mechanized part is pretty incredible.”

He said the highlight of this trip was at the end of the tour when students were able to work alongside four experienced brick masons who were invited to conduct a workshop and demonstration.

Students were challenged to build a temporary brick wall.

“Parts of it were not that great,” laughed Gines. “But that’s to be expected.”

Gines said he was especially glad his students were able to see the pride the masons take in their craft.

“What a wonderful opportunity to get some hands-on experience and to understand and appreciate the work of masons and that it’s extremely skilled work and not something everyone can do.”

CAAD hosts annual career panel discussion

February 5th, 2015 Comments Off

In conjunction with MSU’s Career Days, the College of Architecture, Art and Design held a panel discussion with representatives from the college’s four areas of study (architecture, art, interior design and building construction science.)

The panel was held on Feb. 4 from 4:30 – 5:30 p.m. in the Robert and Freda Harrison Auditorium in Giles Hall. A reception followed immediately after the question-and-answer session.

Beth Miller, director of the Interior Design Program, severed as moderator.

Panelists included:

• Architecture: Ann Somers, AIA, Principal, CDFL Architects + Engineers, P.A. Somers serves on the School of Architecture Advisory Board and is a 1981 graduate.
• Art: Mary Beth McDavid, Creative Director, DPM Fragrance
• Building Construction Science: Adam Moore and Trey Jacobs, Project Managers, Montgomery Martin Contractors, LLC. Jacobs and Moore graduated from the Building Construction Science Program in 2013.
• Interior Design: Ashley Hughes, NCIDQ, LEED AP BD+C, Certified Interior Designer MS & FL, Pryor & Morrow Architects & Engineers. Hughes is a 2007 graduate of the Interior Design Program.

The panel began with general introductions.

CAAD Career Panel from CAADatMSU on Vimeo.

Then, Miller, asked the first question: What do you look at in a potential new hire?

  • Moore said the most important thing is a good attitude and how you carry yourself. He also said being able to communicate is important.
  • Jacobs said he looks for experience of any type.
  • McDavid looks for candidates that have an “entrepreneurial spirit.” “We try to get an idea if a candidate can manage a project.” She encouraged students to have a job while in school and be involved to show they can balance work and school.
  • Hughes said, “how you carry yourself.” She said candidates should show confidence and also be open to learning from others. She encouraged students to ask questions and added that organization is also important.
  • Somers said the first look at a new candidate is the resume and letter. She said her firm looks at the graphics and tries to see if the candidate’s style matches the firm. Therefore, she encouraged students to match their resume to the firm. Somers said different things stand out to her – sometimes GPA, sometimes experience, sometimes design work. She said she loves when students say they are going to follow up with a phone call, and they actually follow through. She said her firm always brings in those candidates at least for a meeting.

Next, students were given the chance to ask questions.

What is your favorite part of the design process?

  • Somers said she enjoys the fact that as an architect, she gets to learn something new every day. She also enjoys collaboration with a team.
  • Hughes finds the most important part of her job is to make sure the client is happy with what her company provides. She said she enjoys the time after meeting with a client when she gets to work on developing the solution to the design problem.
  • McDavid enjoys customer interaction and agreed with Hughes that it’s enjoyable to solve a design problem. She also said it’s very rewarding to see a product she had a part in designing sitting on a retail shelf and being promoted internationally.
  • Moore said he doesn’t really have as much to do with the design process but enjoys that owners value his opinion on budget issues and being cost-effective with projects.

What are some of the responsibilities of a junior designer?

  • Hughes recalled a time at her first company when she was invited to lunch with the CEO. He told her that the number one thing he wanted her to do for him while working at the company was to learn. She agreed that the number one goal when starting a job should be to be willing to learn and have a willing attitude. “They will put into you what you are trying to get out of it,” she said, adding “You are just as much in control of your future as the person you work for, and that’s a really powerful thing.” Hughes also said that interior designers should expect to do a lot of drafting, and she praised the MSU Interior Design program for training her in Revit – something she said gave her a leg up in her first job.
  • McDavid said that the majority of their new hires are in their first job out of school. She said she loves that they are “not afraid to just jump in and run with it.” She encouraged everyone to take ownership and show initiative in projects and not to come in thinking of a position as a junior position. “Have the attitude of ‘what will I know in a month, and how can I make myself valuable to the company.'”
  • Somers added that students now are coming in with new skills that they are able to teach employees who have been working at companies longer.
  • Jacobs told students that entry-level jobs in his field involve a lot of paperwork. “They’ll put as much on you as you show you can handle. It’s a lot of on-the-job training,” he said, adding that the more you are willing to take on and learn, the quicker you will move up.
  • McDavid added that new hires shouldn’t be discouraged by having to do paperwork or the more mundane parts of a project. “Own those with passion,” she said.

What makes an employee the most valuable to a team?

  • Hughes said it’s important to be able to count on a team member – that a project will get done and get done correctly. She also said it’s important to be able to trust a team member.
  • Somers said, “Attitude is key,” adding that it’s important to be thorough, and that that’s often something that has to be learned – often through a more senior mentor.
  • McDavid values a team member who is able to take feedback, listen, ask questions, and apply it all.
  • Moore said it’s important to have initiative and a good attitude. “Go learn from the guy next to you,” he said.

(Directed toward construction representatives) What factors led toward your decision to work for a medium-sized contractor?

  • Moore and Jacobs both credited the decision partly on family and wanting to not move around as much. Moore added that he would have “felt like just another guy – a number” at a larger company, adding with pride that Mr. Montgomery Martin walks by him every day and knows him by name.
  • Hughes said her first company was medium-sized, and she values that she was able to get so much one-on-one training. “The most important thing I feel like I can tell you is in your interview process, try to gauge if they have a mentorship program because that is what is going to help you the most to further your career,” she said.
  • Somers said she has had the opportunity to travel and work at both large and small firms. She encouraged students to do the same. “I don’t think you’ll totally know what you want until you are immersed in it,” she said

(Directed toward architecture representative) What are the advantages of working for a large firm?

  • Somers said large firms usually have teams that work on culture and put more into training. “They have a different way they distribute work, and the mechanics are just different.” She also said how you rise to success is different in a large firm because there is usually stiff competition, which she said can often push you more.

The panel discussion ended with a final question from the moderator: What are some tips for the interview process?

Tips for an inteview – Adam Moore from CAADatMSU on Vimeo.

  • Jacobs: Be able to elaborate, be able to communicate, and be well-rounded.
  • McDavid: Ask questions and be conversational (not just one-word answers).
  • Hughes: “First impressions are key.” Know about the company, and know what your future goals are.
  • Somers: Her current firm (CDFL) looks to see if you are a good fit for the firm and will ask questions about your priorities in life and work. They want it to be a good fit for you as well. “Think about who you are interviewing with and know where you want to head in your career. You want the firm to want you as much as you want the job.” Somers added that larger firms seem to have more clear-cut interviews, and it’s good to have a salary and benefits in mind for the interview.

CAAD to host panel discussion in conjunction with spring MSU Career Days

January 27th, 2015 Comments Off

The College of Architecture, Art, and Design will host a special career presentation panel discussion for students in the Robert and Freda Harrison Auditorium (Giles Hall) following the MSU Career Fair on Feb. 4 at 4:30 p.m.

Panelists include:
• Ann Somers, AIA, Principal, CDFL Architects + Engineers, P.A.

• Mary Beth McDavid, Creative Director, DPM Fragrance

• Adam Moore, Montgomery Martin Contractors, LLC

• Ashley Hughes, NCIDQ, LEED AP BD+C, Certified Interior Designer MS & FL, Pryor & Morrow Architects & Engineers

A reception will follow at 5:30 p.m. for students and professionals in Giles Hall.

The Spring MSU Career Days will be held Feb. 3 (business and non-technical organizations) and Feb. 4 (engineering and technical organizations) from noon – 4 p.m. in the Humphrey Coliseum on MSU’s Starkville campus.

If you have any questions about MSU Career Days, please contact our representative with the Career Center, Ryan Colvin, rcolvin@career.msstate.edu or 662-325-3344.

Gregory to present at CASLE Mini-Grants Workshop

January 20th, 2015 Comments Off

Assistant Professor Alexis Gregory, AIA, will present at the CASLE Mini-Grants Workshop on Thurs., Feb. 5, from 1 p.m. – 3 p.m. in 1405 Presentation Room at the Mitchell Memorial Library.

The workshop will provide an overview of the service-learning mini-grant program offered by the Center for the Advancement of Service-Learning Excellence (CASLE) including the mini-grant application process and examples of funded service-learning projects.

Gregory received a service-learning grant in the past and will share about her project.

Service-Learning Advisory Committee members will also discuss the best ways to write proposals that will be funded.

For more information, visit servicelearning.msstate.edu

Panelists named for upcoming Houston rural design workshop

January 13th, 2015 Comments Off

panelists

Four panelists have been selected from across the country to serve as resource team experts for the upcoming Citizen’s Institute for Rural Design workshop in Houston, Miss., from February 22-24.

  • Andrew Barresi of Massachusetts, principal at Roll Baressi & Associates, will serve as graphic designer for wayfinding and signage around the community.
  • Heather Deutsch of Washington, D.C., sustainable transportation planner at Toole Design Group, will serve as cycling advocate and Rails-to_Trails expert.
  • Keith Holt of Wisconsin, southeast region director at Wisconsin Bicycle Federation, will serve as the project’s community engagement specialist and bicycle advocate.
  • Brice Maryman, ASLA, PLA, CPSI, LEED AP, of Washington, landscape architect and lecturer at the University of Washington, will serve as the landscape architect for the project.

Houston was one of just four communities nationwide to receive a 2014 CIRD Award funded by the National Endowment for the Arts. The award will fund the upcoming workshop, which will serve to gather ideas from the Houston community and its leaders about the Tanglefoot Trailhead in Houston. Houston is the southernmost community along the Tanglefoot Trail, a cycling/pedestrian pathway that runs from New Albany south through Pontotoc and Chickasaw County.

The Carl Small Town Center, one of two research centers housed in Mississippi State University’s College of Architecture, Art, and Design, will host the workshop, which has the main goal of creating plans to lead visitors from the Tanglefoot Trail to Houston’s downtown area and to connect the trail to the nearby Natchez Trace Parkway.

“We are excited to have this esteemed group of experts to help Houston realize its potential at the trailhead of the Tanglefoot Trail,” said Leah Kemp, assistant director of the CSTC. “Each of these resource team members will provide a skill-set that will be beneficial to help envision and design a great place for Houston.”

The free workshop, open to the Houston community, will kick off with an event in the afternoon on Sun., Feb. 22, at the Houston Trailhead. The remainder of the workshop will take place at the Houston Civic Center.

Expert Biographies:

  • Andrew Barresi is in charge of the overall management of Roll Barresi & Associates and directs the firm’s design efforts. He has served as project manager for sign and wayfinding programs for Johns Hopkins University, the City of Newport, Duke University, Peabody Essex Museum, The Arnold Arboretum and Harvard Business School. He is an honors graduate of Wentworth Institute of Technology (civil engineering, 1987) and Massachusetts College of Art (graphic design, 1997). He previously served as graphics coordinator for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, responsible for the design of graphic systems for the Authority in metropolitan Boston and surrounding cities and towns. He also managed the MBTA’s public arts program, “Arts on the Line” and ADA accessibility standards. Barresi’s work on the city of Newport sign program has received an Annual Design Award from the Society for Environmental Graphic Designers. His work has been published in SEGD Design and Architectural Record.
  • Heather Deutsch has worked on bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure projects for the past ten years for the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, Washington, D.C.’s Department of Transportation and most recently Toole Design Group.  In addition to providing design assistance on hundreds of private and public transportation and public space plans, she has managed trail projects from land acquisition to design and on to construction.  At the Rails-to-Trails Conversancy, Deutsch led a team that provided legal, acquisition, economic and design assistance to municipalities throughout the U.S.  Previous urban planning work focused on under-served communities in redeveloping historic neighborhoods. Deutsch holds a master’s degree in urban and regional planning from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and a Bachelor of Arts in the History of Math, Science and Philosophy.  She has traveled to 35 countries and bicycled across the country at the age of 13.
  • Keith Holt has worked for more than five years for the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation (now Active Transportation Alliance). In that role, he served in a community liaison capacity, developing and maintaining relationships with the African-American communities throughout Chicago and working to gain support for the organizations’ programs in those areas. Since moving to Milwaukee in 2007, he has brought his personal mission to the neighborhood where he lives and continues with the formation of Milwaukee Bicycle Works. He also serves on several board and committees. He is chairman of Milwaukee Bike Ped Task Force, serves on the Washington Park Partners Steering Committee and is a board member for the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin. His specialties include urban trails and greenways, livable communities, cycling advocacy, event coordination/facilitation, youth development, bicycling in communities of color and urban built environment.
  • Brice Maryman is an award-winning landscape architect at SvR Design Company in Seattle. Whether working on children’s playgrounds or public streetscapes, he is passionately concerned with the vitality and health of natural and cultural ecosystems. In addition to his work at SvR, he currently serves in a leadership role on the board of Seattle Parks Commissioners. He co-founded the University of Washington’s Urban Green Infrastructure Certificate Program and co-directed the ASLA award-winning Open Space Seattle 2100 project with Nancy Rottle.  Maryman has been involved with several local organizations including the Great City, the Arboretum Foundation and the Friends of Seattle’s Olmsted Parks. This involvement continues his deep commitment to balancing environmental and cultural values within the urban environment. He recently served as chair of the Technical Advisory Committee for Planning and Design for the STAR Community Index.

The Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design (CIRD) is a National Endowment for the Arts leadership initiative in partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Project for Public Spaces Inc. along with the Orton Family Foundation and the CommunityMatters® Partnership. Established in 1991, CIRD has convened more than 60 rural design workshops in all regions of the country, empowering residents to leverage local assets in order to build better places to live, work, and play. For more information visit www.rural-design.org.

Watch the video on WCBI

Read more about the Houston’s Citizen’s Institute for Rural Design Award on Mississippi State University’s Website.

2014 Citizen’s Institute for Rural Design Award recipients

For more about the Carl Small Town Center, visit carlsmalltowncenter.org.

The MSU College of Architecture, Art and Design is online at caad.msstate.edu.

Read the story on MSU’s website and at WCBI.com.

Alumni enlist architecture students to help with solutions for state

December 12th, 2014 Comments Off

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l to r: Patrick Sullivan, Keith Findley, Megan Vansant, Kevin Flores , Aaryn Phillips, Nenyatta Smith, Daria Pizzetta and Jim Findley (photo by Patrick Brown)

Jim Fennell and Keith Findley have come back to their alma mater for help with accomplishing a goal they have for the state. The two alumni hope to bring some of the ideas of functional symbiosis and reuse from their Colorado Ivywild project to the state of Mississippi.

Functional symbiosis is when companies partner together and share waste. The Ivywild project is a renovated school that houses a brewery, bakery, community garden and other components that all work together in a closed circuit. The excess water from the brewery waters the garden; spent grains from the brewery goes into making the bread at the bakery and so on.

According to Fennell, when businesses are able to take advantage of a functional symbiotic relationship, they have lower operating costs from the reuse of materials and can, therefore, be more successful.

“In turn,” he said, “that gets others in the community interested, and it starts to grow.”

“I think it can really do good things for the state,” added Findley

So, the two alumni approached Michael Berk, F.L. Crane Professor and director of the School of Architecture, last year about getting architecture students involved in helping spread the idea across the state.

“These young people are our best resources for solutions,” said Findley.

And the idea happened to fit perfectly with what Assistant Professor Alexis Gregory had already been planning for her fall fourth-year studio.

Gregory, inspired by an ACSA conference, wanted to dedicate her semester to getting students to think about recycling and reuse. So, with funding from the two alumni, the Ivywild Studio was born.

Gregory created a series of projects for the studio that, throughout the semester, taught recycling, reuse and functional and community symbiosis. Early projects helped students develop the conceptual idea leading to their final project inspired by the Ivywild project.

For the final project, titled “Starkville Symbiosis,” students were challenged to research and create a design for a similarly functioning hypothetical building in Starkville. The students were given a site at the corner of Jackson and Lampkin Streets and real-world clients, Ed Dechert and Cameron Fogle of Sweetgum Brewing and Troy DeRego of DeRego’s Bread.

The final designs included a variety of symbiotic ideas and were presented on Dec. 2 for a panel of jurors including two of the clients, Dechert and DeRego, as well as Fennell and Findley.

Additional jurors included Allison Anderson, FAIA, LEED-AP, and John Anderson, AIA, LEED-AP of unabridged Architecture; Daria Pizzetta, AIA, LEED-AP, of H3 Hardy Collaboration; Patrick Sullivan, president of the Mississippi Energy Institute; Jeremiah Dumas, MSU sustainability coordinator; Bob Wilson, executive director of the Mississippi Main Street Association; and Phil Hardwick, project manager for the Stennis Institute.

The jurors were excited to see the variety of creative solutions the students came up with and immediately saw the impact such projects could have on the state.

Allison Anderson said that the students, now in their fourth-year of study, are starting to understand that “architecture doesn’t end at the line of the building; it continues into the community.”

She went on to explain that architects need to think about what the needs are in the community and how it will grow in the future, and this project helped the students to start to do that.

Sullivan said he saw a wide range of opportunities in the students’ projects.

“The IvyWild project,” he said. “There’s just not anything like that in Mississippi. The goal should be for nothing to leave the site – air, water or steam emissions – except products that are being sold and, of course, people coming and going. Taking that kind of approach is just smart.”

“I hope to see one of these actually developed,” said Daria, who also serves on the school’s Advisory Council.

The jurors selected four top projects. First place and $1,000 went to Megan Vansant; Kevin Flores received second place and another $1,000. Honorable mention went to Aryn Phillips and Nenyatta Smith.

“We see this as a first step in an ongoing thing at the university,” said Findley.

Gregory said her students – now “Ivywild fans” – really enjoyed the project.

“Hopefully they’ll carry this throughout their careers,” she added.

Fourth-year architecture students in the Ivywild studio include (by hometown):
CORDOVA – Emma Morse, daughter of James M. Morse and Charlene Smith
CLINTON – Devin Carr, son of Neil and Sandra Carr
FOREST – Kevin Flores, son of Jose and Teresa Flores
GULFPORT – Nenyatta Smith, daughter of John and Dorothy Smith
HERNANDO – Patrick Brown, son of Chet Brown and Earline Wallace
HORN LAKE – Daniela Bustillos, daughter of Jaime and Maria Bustillos
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Megan Vansant, daughter of Donald R. and Rebecca W. Vansant
JACKSON – Lorianna Baker, daughter of Duke and Karen Baker
OLIVE BRANCH – Aryn Phillips, daughter of William and Luretha Phillips
PADUCAH, Ky. – Ryan Bridges, son of Michael Douglas and Delinda Kay Bridges
PICAYUNE – Cody Smith, and son of Ray and Christina Renderman
SNELLVILLE, Ga. – Ryan Mura, son of Ryan L. and Susan D. Mura

Read the story on MSU’s website.

Read the story on WCBI.

Architecture, building construction science students establish a national model for academic collaboration

November 18th, 2014 Comments Off

Mississippi State University President Mark Keenum, Provost and Executive Vice President Jerry Gilbert and Interim Vice President for Student Affairs Bill Broyles visit the Collaborative Studio in Giles Hall to view models and full-scale mock-ups of the golf course facilities being designed and built by architecture and building construction science students. Photo by Megan Bean | Mississippi State University

Mississippi State University President Mark Keenum, Provost and Executive Vice President Jerry Gilbert and Interim Vice President for Student Affairs Bill Broyles visit the Collaborative Studio in Giles Hall to view models and full-scale mock-ups of the golf course facilities being designed and built by architecture and building construction science students. Photo by Megan Bean | Mississippi State University

Mississippi State University’s College of Architecture, Art and Design is paving the way nationally when it comes to collaboration between the fields of construction and architecture.

In the fall, CAAD’s second-year architecture and building construction science studios come together to form a joint Collaborative Studio, where students are challenged to bring knowledge from their two disciplines together.

Assistant Professor of architecture Emily McGlohn, coordinator for the studio, explained that buildings are becoming more and more complex and require construction and architecture professionals to work together – what is referred to in the industry as Integrated Project Delivery (IPD).

“The students are learning the earlier the constructors and architects come together in the design process, the better the building will be and the less headaches they will encounter along the way.”

Each year, students in this studio are challenged to work together to design and construct a full-scale product from start to finish for a real client. Last year’s fall Collaborative Studio constructed two bus shelters for the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians. This year, students are working on two lighting shelters for the MSU Golf Course.

“Every class gets a chance to do a project like this,” said Associate Professor of architecture Hans Herrmann. “That’s rare,” he said, going on to explain how important hands-on learning is for students. “The reality of making is different from drawing. Gravity becomes a reality for them,” he laughed.

And the students have, in fact, dealt with their fair share of challenges, both with learning how to work together and actually building something they have designed.

“This is a pretty intense, hands-on learning experience for them,” said building construction science instructor Lee Carson, who said that students are learning “the idea of drawing with materials.”

This year’s project includes two separate shelters with restrooms for the golf course – one with cypress wall panels as an exterior skin and the other with a concrete skin. Both facilities will have cisterns to capture rainwater that will be used to flush the toilets.

After working on individual, small-scale designs, the 49 students split into four teams to tackle designing and building the two facilities in pieces – a wood wall panel team, a concrete wall panel team, a roof truss team and a concrete wall cistern team. This teamwork has allowed for a peer-review atmosphere, which has resulted in improved quality of design and construction.

“The students’ work has continued to impress us,” said Bill Broyles, interim vice for student affairs, who has been consulting with the group from the start.

Construction began on site with the pouring of the foundation in late September. Students are currently working on the formwork for the cistern wall while the other teams are fabricating their components off site. Construction on both buildings is set to be finished by the end of the month.

The project will wrap up with a final review on Dec. 1, where students will explain the design and construction process. A ribbon cutting ceremony and reception – open to the MSU community – will be held on the golf course in the spring.

“The students are really excited to have an investment on campus,” said Herrmann. “And we are grateful to have a project to work on,” added Michael Berk, F.L. Crane Professor and director of the School of Architecture.

According to Jim West, the college’s dean, CAAD is the only college in the country where the entire group of construction and architecture students from one year-level come together in a joint studio.

“MSU is truly reframing innovative architecture and construction education,” said the new director of the Building Construction Science Program Craig Capano, Ph.D., and Roy Anderson Professor.

“For our students, the idea of IPD and project collaboration is going to be a familiar concept,” added Berk.

“And we are setting a standard we feel will be modeled in the years to come across the country,” finished West.

School of Architecture alumna featured in MS Business Journal

November 13th, 2014 Comments Off

Ann Somers helps review 4th-year students' projects after the March 2013 Advisory Council Meeting.

Ann Somers helps review 4th-year students’ projects after the March 2013 Advisory Council Meeting.

Ann Somers, a member of the School of Architecture Advisory Council and a 1981 alumna, was recently featured in the Mississippi Business Journal.

MAKING JACKSON A BETTER PLACE
Ann Somers enjoys her career because of variety of projects and the people she meets
by Lynn Lofton

While growing up in Byram, Ann Somers loved putting thing together, such as puzzles, model cars and ships and fantasy Barbie kingdoms. That interest in building things led to a career in architecture, something she learned about as an eighth-grader.

“I knew that was what I wanted to do,” Somers recalls. “Up to that point I did not like school and was an average student. Once I understood I needed to have a good grade point average to get into architecture school, I stepped it up and became a good student. The other thought with architecture was that I could branch into interior design or site design with an architecture degree.”

All of her first 12 years of school were spent in Byram where she graduated with around 30 class members; some were together all 12 years. She grew up in a rural home with plenty of pets and animals. Her grandparents lived next door, and Somers played outside all the time. “There were very few kids my age around so I entertained myself,” she said.

She remembers her father, who died when she was 10 years of age, as fun to be with and involving her in whatever he was doing, which was mainly farming and selling vegetables to local stores and restaurants. “My mother was a registered nurse who taught nursing most of her career and ended her career teaching hospital staff how to teach patients about their medical issues, so they could stay well,” Somers said. “She was very early in the wellness movement, a great role model for me and extremely supportive.”

After graduation from the Mississippi State University School of Architecture, Somers, 56, spent time working in New York City and Savannah, Ga.; experiences she feels gave her a good background for returning to her home state to work in her profession. In 2003 she was chosen the Alumna of the Year for the MSU School of Architecture.

Now a partner in the Jackson firm of Cooke Douglass Farr Lemons, Somers enjoys the continual learning of being an architect. “It is never boring. Every project type has a learning curve, and building materials and systems are ever changing,” she says. “Plus there are new people you get to know with each new project.”

Although Somers has worked on many high-profile projects, she has difficulty choosing one single project of which she’s the most proud. “That’s a hard question because I love all our buildings. They’re a little like children I birthed into the world. But to pick just one building, it would be the Mississippi Department of Archives and History building.”

As a dream project, Somers is currently thinking a lot about what makes the perfect retirement living situation. “I would love to design a retirement village where you can age gracefully and happily  in place,” she said.

As a long time member of the Sierra Club, Somers is vitally interested in architecture that’s environmentally friendly and sees some changes coming to Mississippi in that regard. “Mississippi is getting better and it’s partially due to a national movement started through USGBC (United States Green Building Council) LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) to work toward sustainability and create healthier environments,” she said. “The USGBC website is a great resource for project owners to see what is possible. As owners are educated and excited by what is possible in building, greater changes will be made. In the meantime, architects, engineers and contractors are making a difference through smart design, efficient systems design and construction waste reduction.”

When not working, Somers volunteers with Community Animal Rescue and Adoption, which she also serves as a board member, and Rankin County Animal Adoption foundation. “Metro Jackson has a terrible problem with unwanted pets,” she said. “The local government is euthanizing about 15,000 pets annually, which is 288 per week. We do not have a culture of spaying and neutering our pets, so along with adoption promotion, I am involved with spay and neuter public education.”

She and husband Jim Somers, a landscape architect who recently retired, live in Jackson and have four dogs and a cat — “all of which are beautiful, sweet and perfect.” The couple is committed to making Jackson a great place to live. “We help by promoting and participating in music, art, and community events,” she said.

School of Architecture, Building Construction Science to host ‘Integrated Project Delivery Theater’

November 5th, 2014 Comments Off

Vignette Diagram

(Via the ACSA website)

Mississippi State University’s School of Architecture and Building Construction Science Program, in cooperation with the Architecture and Construction Alliance (A+CA) announce the Integrated Project Delivery Theater. This interactive symposium is designed to introduce the exciting but complex world of Integrated Practice.

The two-day symposium features the project team responsible for the commission, design and construction of the New Orleans Bio Innovation Center, a LEED Gold building. Featured presenters include Jose Alvarez, AIA, LEED AP, Project Architect and Principle with the 2014 AIA Firm of the Year Eskew+Dumez+Ripple; Kevin N. Overton, LEED AP BD+C, Senior Project Manager for Turner Construction Company; and Brian Bozeman, LEED AP, Executive Director ADAMS, (client’s representative) for the New Orleans Bio Innovation Center.

Coupled with this dynamic project team, integrated practice educators Assistant Professor Michele M. Herrmann, Esq.; Assistant Professor Emily M. McGlohn, Assoc. AIA, LEED AP; and Associate Professor Hans C. Herrmann, AIA, NCARB, LEED Green Assoc., will offer an exceptional educational opportunity. The unique interactive theater-like presentation includes problem-based learning activities and illustrative visual and verbal presentations designed to generate synthetic comprehension of IPD.

The A+CA, through its generous sponsorship, has enabled the MSU faculty to develop this special event. As a critical component to the symposium’s success, the A+CA and MSU School of Architecture and Building Construction Science Program invite students and faculty members from all programs of study engaged in Integrated Project Delivery to attend.

The free symposium will be held in Giles Hall on the MSU campus in charming Starkville, MS.

For more information on the participating practitioners and MSU faculty presenters please visit: http://caad.msstate.edu/wpmu/ipdtheater2015/

Symposium Date: January 29–30, 2015
Location: School of Architecture
Giles Hall, Mississippi State University, Mississippi State, MS 39762
Local Accommodations: Hotel Chester, Downtown Starkville, MS

MSU School of Architecture curates coast exhibit

November 3rd, 2014 Comments Off

photo by David Lewis

photo by David Lewis

(Via David Lewis)

A continuation and expansion of the “Modern Mississippi” exhibit will be on display through the end of December at the Charnley-Norwood House in Ocean Springs.

The exhibit was curated and photographed by MSU School of Architecture students Landon Kennedy and David Lewis with the help of Assistant Professor Jacob Gines, faculty coordinator and photographer; student Mary Sanders, photographer; and student Casey Walker photographer.

“The Charnley-Norwood House was designed by Louis Sullivan,” said Lewis. “At the time, Frank Llyod Wright worked for Sullivan and is believed to have worked on the house. It was recently restored after being extremely damaged during Hurricane Katrina.”

The renovation/restoration project by Albert & Associates Architects P.A. recently received an Honor Award from the Mississippi AIA.

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