Collaborative Studio ends semester with ribbon cutting ceremony

December 11th, 2013 Comments Off on Collaborative Studio ends semester with ribbon cutting ceremony

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Philadelphia bus shelter and students with MS Band of Choctaw Indian Chief Phyliss J. Anderson. Steve Murray, planner for the MS Band of Choctaw Indians, said the design has been well-received. “It looks like it’s got elements of the Choctaw culture,” he said, adding that the design looks like a basket.

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Tucker bus shelter and students

Second-year building construction science and architecture students have been working together this semester in a collaborative studio with Professors Lee Carson, Alexis Gregory, Hans Herrmann, Emily McGlohn (all architecture) and Tom Leathem (building construction science).

Throughout the semester, the students researched, designed and constructed two bus shelters for the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians.

On Dec. 2, students and faculty from the Collaborative Studio celebrated at the two locations at Pearl River and Tucker.

The group was joined by first-year architecture and building constructions science students and faculty; Dean Jim West; Michael Berk, director of the School of Architecture; and Dr. David C. Lewis, director of the Building Construction Science Program. Also present were Steve Murray, planner with the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians;  the Tribal Council and other representatives; and Chief Phyliss J. Anderson.

Anderson welcomed and briefly addressed the group before the ribbon cutting.

“It’s always a blessing to have a relationship with the institute of education,” she said, adding that the bus shelter project is something that the students should be very proud of.

The chief then presented College of Architecture, Art and Design Dean Jim West with a handmade basket.

West thanked Anderson and said the on-going partnership has been a win/win for the college, and he explained some of the other projects the college has worked on with the MS Band of Choctaw Indians.

The first project was in 2009 when the college’s Carl Small Town Center assisted the tribe in preparing a Transit Plan with funding through the Federal Transit Administration’s Tribal Transit Program.  The study was used to support several projects, including the new Transit Maintenance Center, which was recently completed.

Herrmann’s class constructed the first bus stop for Bogue Chitto a few years ago, and this year, two more bus stops were designed and built by the Collaborative Studio for Pearl River and Tucker. There are plans for more bus stops to be built for the community next year.

“It’s been a breath of fresh air to have young people come in and work with us,” said Murray. “They’ve thought about ideas we hadn’t thought about.”

Watch the video from the ribbon cutting ceremony.

Read the story on MSU’s website.

Read more about the Collaborative Studio here.

Check out the video about the class created by MSU student Nikki Arellana for a TV Production course.

Working on the shelters:


Architecture professor has paper accepted to international conference

December 10th, 2013 Comments Off on Architecture professor has paper accepted to international conference

Alexis Gregory, AIA, assistant professor in the School of Architecture, recently had a paper, “Re-thinking Design Studio Pedagogy:
Collaboration Between Architecture and the Allied Disciplines,” accepted for presentation at the ARCC/EAAE 2014 International
Conference.  The conference will be held on Feb. 12–15, 2014 in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Architecture professor has paper accepted to ACSA Conference

December 4th, 2013 Comments Off on Architecture professor has paper accepted to ACSA Conference

Alexis Gregory, AIA, assistant professor in the School of Architecture, recently had a paper accepted for presentation in the paper session, “Building Change: Public Interest Design,” at the 102nd Annual ACSA Conference: Globalizing Architecture. The conference will be held April 10-12, 2014, in Miami Beach, Fla.

Paper submissions were peer-reviewed by a minimum of three scholars. This year’s paper acceptance rate was about 50%.

Design, construction collaborative studio takes shape at MSU

October 31st, 2013 Comments Off on Design, construction collaborative studio takes shape at MSU

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Watch the video by Leah Barbour where students and faculty discuss the challenges and rewards of collaboration.

By Leah Barbour | MSU Office of Public Affairs

Mississippi State University’s College of Architecture, Art and Design is offering a unique collaborative studio for architecture and building construction science majors.

“It’s the only one of its kind in the country,” said CAAD Dean Jim West. “The architecture students and the construction students are in the same studio with faculty from both groups team-teaching over two semesters.”

The university course offers a special learning opportunity, and collaboration is key to the students’ success, said Tom Leathem, BCS assistant professor.

While the nearly 50 students are working together in the classroom, they will construct two bus shelters for the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians in Neshoba County. The shelters will be delivered to Philadelphia at the semester’s end.

“The students have to work together hand-in-hand the entire time,” Leathem said. “The architecture students are being challenged with learning and executing architecture practices, and the BCS students have to be conscious of the impacts that they could make on the design when they’re trying to execute their construction portion of the project.”

Architecture assistant professor Hans Herrmann said the course offers the perfect opportunity to introduce architecture majors to fundamental building construction and design materials.

“The studio is very much focused on a non-traditional set of issues for beginning students,” Herrmann explained. “Engaging in the study and practical application of the effects of building materials and methods at this level in their education is highly unusual.”

By designing and building the bus shelters together, the students are learning how to make the compromises that will become an integral part of their professional careers, he said.

Several architecture majors said they initially thought the biggest challenge they will face will be to consider the construction aspects of their designs. Likewise, BCS majors anticipated their biggest struggle will be adherence to the design while realizing it with construction materials.

“Architecture and building construction science programs and students are just different,” said sophomore Ryan M. Fierro, an architecture major from Madison, Ala. and the son of Mario and Sheila Fierro. “I know I’m going to leave this studio still having my design sense, but I’ll understand how it will be affected and changed by the construction aspects.”

Finding pragmatic ways to realize the designs will be a challenge, but gaining real-world experience is preparing the entire group for the workforce, said junior building construction science major Brent M. Gaude’ of Natchez, the son of David and Ann Gaude’.

As the class began the project by sculpting clay models of the proposed shelters, differences between architectural and BCS mindsets were obvious, said sophomore Rashidat L. “Mo” Momoh, an architecture major and the daughter of Khadijat Momoh of Cordova, Tenn.

“After the first rounds of models were completed, you could easily tell which ones were done by architecture majors and which ones were done by building construction science majors,” Momoh said. “Even though there was a distinction between the majors, neither was right.

“The architecture majors did not consider how their models would be made out of real-world building materials, and the building construction science majors did not consider how playful and inviting a bus stop should be,” she said.

When the design phase was completed, both students and faculty members critiqued the models, and teams composed of both disciplines were asked to create new models. As the students discover how to learn from one another, they will be better prepared for the workforce, Herrmann said.

“The intent of our work this semester is to form a foundational understanding of integrated project delivery as a way of realizing buildings in the world,” he said.


Second-year architecture students travel to Ohio

October 17th, 2013 Comments Off on Second-year architecture students travel to Ohio


Field Trip Week for the School of Architecture was held Sept. 22 – 28.

During the week, architecture students visited various metropolitan areas to get exposure to the architecture as well as meet with large firms and see other sites. First-year students went to Dallas, Texas; third-year students visited Chicago, Ill.; and fourth-year’s trip was to New York, New York.

Second-year architecture students visited Cincinnati, Ohio, with professors Emily McGlohn and Alexis Gregory.

The trip included an extensive tour of the University of Cincinnati’s campus by architecture professor Patrick Snadon, which included buildings by Thom Mayne, Michael Graves, Frank Gehry and Peter Eisenman.

Students also experienced the Lois & Richard Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art by architect Zaha Hadid in downtown Cincinnati.

Exploration of the city was encouraged, and students visited other sites such as Art Deco’s Carew Tower, Findlay Market, Skyline Chili and Graeter’s Ice Cream – all landmarks of Cincinnati.

School of Architecture professor featured on Center for Service-Learning Excellence site

September 24th, 2013 Comments Off on School of Architecture professor featured on Center for Service-Learning Excellence site

Alexis Gregory

Alexis Gregory

Assistant Professor Alexis Gregory, AIA, is the first faculty spotlight for MSU’s new center Center for Service-Learning Excellence (CASLE).

Service-Learning Class:
ARC 4990: Habitat Prototype House Course

Semester Taught:
Spring 2013

Course Description:
This course is designed for the development of well-designed, low-cost housing for low-income clients of the Starkville Area Habitat for Humanity. Students in the course developed one final design concept that was given to the Starkville Area Habitat for Humanity for consideration for implementation.

Comments from Professor Gregory:

Why do you use service-learning as a teaching pedagogy?

“Service-learning is an important part of my teaching pedagogy because architecture is both for and experienced by the public and has more influence on the lives of everyone than most people realize. Architecture students are very interested in public service and community outreach and therefore it is an important way to engage them in their learning process.”

What advice do you have for faculty and students when considering service-learning?

“The advice I would give faculty and students considering a service-learning class is to give yourself plenty of time to figure things out and be patient. It seems like it would be easy to incorporate service-learning into a class that already serves someone, but to truly learn about service-learning and to make sure the course is successful in both the service-learning aspect and in achieving the needs of the project partner you need good planning and course development. It is very rewarding to achieve this, but it takes work, as does anything worth doing well.”

Name something important you learned (as a faculty member) through your work with CASLE and service-learning.

“The most important thing that I learned is that adding service-learning to a course takes time, but it is well worth it. It is harder than you may think to achieve the connection between what you are teaching and service-learning, even though it seems like an obvious connection at first. The in-depth exploration of that connection is what makes the course richer and more beneficial for the students, faculty, and project partner.”

To learn more about CASLE, visit

MSU students unveil plans for 2013 ‘Maroon Edition’ Habitat house

May 23rd, 2013 Comments Off on MSU students unveil plans for 2013 ‘Maroon Edition’ Habitat house

MSU students recently presented the house model their class developed for the 2013 Maroon Edition house project. The presenters include, from left, Alex Reeves of Ellisville, Jake Johnson of Roswell, Ga., and Mark Riley of Columbia. Photo by: Megan Bean

MSU students recently presented the house model their class developed for the 2013 Maroon Edition house project. The presenters include, from left, Alex Reeves of Ellisville, Jake Johnson of Roswell, Ga., and Mark Riley of Columbia. Photo by: Megan Bean

By Leah Barbour | MSU University Relations

STARKVILLE – Design plans developed by Mississippi State students in the College of Architecture, Art and Design will enable the next Maroon Edition Habitat for Humanity house project to move forward.

The Hendrix family – parents Raven and Malcolm, nine-year-old daughter Zoë and three-year-old Malcolm Jr. or “BJ” – met with the five university architecture and building construction science majors throughout the spring semester as they developed plans for the Beattie Street home. The team’s completed plans were presented at semester’s end.

“The ‘Habitat Prototype House’ class is a service-learning project, so the idea is that it links education and service in a learning environment,” said assistant architecture professor Alexis Gregory, who teaches the class.

The course is an extension of MSU’s Maroon Edition first-year reading experience. The Maroon Edition Habitat house is an annual service-learning project open to MSU student and local volunteers who undertake construction of the building.

“Throughout this course I learned the importance of working together as a team and the importance of architects and contractors working closely,” said architecture major Jake Johnson of Roswell, Ga. “I also learned about the concept of service learning and how it impacts the construction industry.”

Instead of completing a hypothetical project, the participating students were able to gain considerable hands-on experience. Throughout the process, they sought and received feedback from both the Hendrix family and Starkville Area Habitat for Humanity board members.

“Designing for an actual client has really helped me to involve myself more in the project and become attached to it,” Johnson said. “Knowing that this house will actually shelter a family has been a huge motivation for me.”

Design challenges included a strict budget and Habitat guidelines, but the final result features a home with efficient, natural ventilation and high windows to bring in sunlight, he added.

“Everyone will have a bedroom,” said Raven Hendrix. “My son and daughter have to share a room now, which is a problem now that he’s bigger. We’ll have a pantry in the kitchen; the living room is separate, and it’s the largest area. And we’ll have a backyard.”

She emphasized how meaningful it was to the family to have input throughout the process, noting that the student designers were able to meet all of Habitat’s guidelines, as well as staying within budget.

“It started to sink in once I saw the finalized plans; I was so excited,” Hendrix said. “I’ll be even more excited when we start working on the house.”

She said one senior who graduated last weekend even promised to return in August to help build the house.

Third-year architecture students present final projects, win BIA Awards

April 30th, 2013 Comments Off on Third-year architecture students present final projects, win BIA Awards

Haley Whiteman, who won a $1,000 Brick Award for her project, is busy at work before the final review presentation.

The third-year studio in the School of Architecture presented their designs for a Community Arts Center project located in Birmingham, Ala., on Tuesday, April 23. Professors were Alexis Gregory, AIA; Emily McGlohn; Todd Walker, FAIA; and Chris Cosper, AIA (BCS).

The students worked on intermittent assignments throughout the semester with the second-year Building Construction Science students, allowing both studios time to work independently and as a team.

The students also researched and created the project programs consisting of three different focus areas for the Community Arts Center – Film/Performing Arts, Visual Arts and Historic/Industrial Arts. The students were allowed to choose one of the three possible program types, and they used this to create their building design. The students were also tasked with utilizing brick as a major component in their building but in a new and innovative way. This challenge, part of a yearly design competition funded by a generous grant from the Brick Industry Association (BIA), supports the pedagogical focus of the studio as the Tectonics II studio for the School of Architecture.

The reviewers of the student work included Glen Clapper, AIA, architectural services manager for the Brick Industry Association in the Southeast Region; Patrick Nelson, AIA, and Jermaine Washington, principals of Regarding Architecture in Birmingham; Brittany Foley, NCARB, LEED AP BD+C, project architect with Williams Blackstock Architects in Birmingham; Matt Foley, NCARB, LEED AP, associate at Davis Architects in Birmingham; and Roy Decker, principal of Duvall Decker Architects P.A. located in Jackson.

The reviewers selected the winning projects by looking at how the students utilized brick as both a design and construction material in their project and felt that the winning projects were the most successful in their use of brick.

Brick Industry Association Winners 2013:
Samantha King – $1,000 Brick Award
Haley Whiteman – $1,000 Brick Award
Robert Ledet – Honorable Mention
John Taylor Schaffhauser – Honorable Mention

Students hard at work on their projects before the final reviews:

Final reviews:

Architecture professor Alexis Gregory has paper accepted into BTES summer conference

April 17th, 2013 Comments Off on Architecture professor Alexis Gregory has paper accepted into BTES summer conference

Alexis Gregory’s paper, “Teaching Building Technology Through Haptic Learning Techniques,” has been accepted into the 2013 Building Technology Educators’ Society (BTES) conference.

Gregory, AIA, is an assistant professor in the School of Architecture at MSU. Her paper will be presented at the conference, which will be held on July 12-13 at Roger Williams University in Bristol, R.I.

Papers that best matched this year’s conference theme of “Teaching Tectonics” were chosen and blind-reviewed by three peers.

Paper Abstract:
“Students struggle to understand concepts and the application of those concepts when they are only engaged in a lecture hall. The proliferation of only visual and verbal learning techniques is not enough to help our students understand the materials and technologies necessary in architecture. Haptic learning techniques take the visual and verbal and make it real for our students. This paper posits that the addition of haptic learning techniques in construction technology classes will not only strengthen the connection between the visual and the actual, but also create more opportunities to teach the materials and technologies our students will need to become successful architects. The traits of Millennial students and how those traits can be harnessed to integrate haptic learning in construction technology courses will be discussed, as well as courses that have implemented these ideas and techniques.

Construction technology courses teach the traits of materials and the construction detailing of those materials in relation to the architectural design. Student projects range from scaled structural models to help students understand the limitations and connections of the materials and structural systems to full scale details of structural connections that help students better understand all of the decisions inherent in design and its impact on the architecture. Smaller scale projects allow a different level of haptic experience by giving the students the opportunity to both design and construct their ideas. These haptic learning techniques not only help the students better understand design and its relationship to construction, but also their integrated relationship and how important it is they work together to create beautiful architecture.”

Architecture, BCS students take third place at MSU Undergraduate Research Symposium

March 28th, 2013 Comments Off on Architecture, BCS students take third place at MSU Undergraduate Research Symposium

left to right: Adam Trautman, Alex Reeves, Melinda Ingram, Jacob Johnson and Mark Riley

Students in Assistant Professor Alexis Gregory’s Habitat Prototype House class won third place in the Community Engagement Track of the MSU Undergraduate Research Symposium held on March 22.

The students received a $50 gift certificate to Barnes & Noble for their project, titled “Elevating Habitat: Service-Learning in Design and Construction.”

Adam Trautman, a senior in the Building Construction Science Program, presented the project. Third-year architecture students Melinda Ingram, Jacob Johnson, Alex Reeves and Mark Riley also worked on the project.

Symposium Board

Read more on MSU’s website.

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