MSU architecture major takes second in national scholarship competition

May 4th, 2015 Comments Off on MSU architecture major takes second in national scholarship competition

2015 Gensler Diversity Award from CAADatMSU on Vimeo. (Video by David Garraway | MSU TV Center)

Photo by Keats Haupt

Photo by Keats Haupt

Mississippi State’s College of Architecture, Art and Design offers a unique collaborative experience for students, and these efforts are helping students get national recognition.

Aryn Phillips, a fourth-year architecture major from Olive Branch, recently took second place in the seventh annual Gensler Diversity Scholarship Competition. Phillips credited the college’s many collaborative efforts for her success.

“We do a collaborative studio with building construction science and projects with both BCS and interior design students, and that’s what Gensler is really big on,” she said. “It’s a global design firm; we do a little of that here, and that’s unique from other schools.”

As a second place winner, Phillips, the daughter of William and Luretha Phillips and a 2011 graduate of Desoto Central High School in Southaven, will receive $5,000 from Gensler to put toward her academic studies. Because of the scholarship, she was also awarded a paid summer internship at Gensler’s New York offices, which she will start on June 2.

For the competition, Phillips submitted a project designed in the fall 2014 Ivywild Studio, taught by Assistant Professor Alexis Gregory. Phillips’ project, which also won honorable mention in her studio, was the design of a symbiotic district. The project included a brewery, bakery, restaurant and ice cream shop that utilized the recycle-reuse process called “functional symbiosis.” (See more on the IvyWild Studio.)

Phillips said she was encouraged by her professors to enter Gensler’s competition and received a recommendation from the director of the school, F.L. Crane Professor Michael Berk.

She also was encouraged by the fact that one of her fellow classmates, Larry Travis, won first place in last year’s competition.

“MSU winning twice is pretty significant; I don’t realize that while I’m in school,” she said, adding “And just seeing that makes me understand how well prepared we are through this program.”

Phillips is currently applying for a cooperative education program for next year. After her fifth-year of study in Jackson, she plans to pursue a master’s degree in urban design.

“Winning the 2015 Gensler Diversity Scholarship and having the opportunity to intern with such a prestigious firm is a great honor,” said Phillips. “This scholarship and Gensler’s investment in my architectural education gives me the confidence and motivation to continue to pursue my interests and further my career in architecture.”

Gensler, a global architecture, design and planning firm, has awarded nearly $200,000 in academic scholarship to students and graduates over the last 15 years.

The Gensler Diversity Scholarship is open to African-American students enrolled in a U.S. not-for-profit educational institution who will begin their final year of a NAAB-accredited architecture program in the fall. For more information about the Gensler Diversity Scholarship, visit

Read the story on MSU’s website.

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