CAAD research center director to present at Pecha Kucha Biloxi

March 30th, 2015 Comments Off

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David Perkes, AIA, will present as part of the first spring Pecha Kucha Biloxi event.

This year’s theme is based on MAPPartner, the Ohr Museum’s ongoing Katrina+10 series of exhibits and events. 

On April 2, from 6-8:30 p.m. at the Ohr O’Keefe Museum of Art, coast architects will discuss how Katrina impacted the local architecture and showcase their successful efforts to restore it.

“How Katrina Changed Our Look” presenters include:

·         Holly Gibbs – Hands on Mississippi
·         Kevin O’Brien – Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art
·         Sonja Gillis – Lyn Meadows Discovery Center
·         Steve Phillips – WLOX
·         John Anderson, AIA – unabridged Architecture
·         Corey Christy – Walter Anderson Museum
·         Dr. Janice Johnson – Biloxi Public Schools
·         Allison Anderson, FAIA – unabridged Architecture
·         Windy Swetman – Swetman Security
·         Christene Brice – Harrison County Election Commission District 4
·         David Perkes, AIA – Gulf Coast Community Design Studio
·         Romy Simpson – Negrotto’s Gallery

For more information about the presenters, check out Pecha Kucha Biloxis’ Facebook page.

Also, MAPPartner Marvin Windows and Doors is excited to announce the return of the prestigious Marvin Architects Challenge celebrating acclaimed design and breathtaking architecture. This challenge gives architects the chance to submit their best work that displays architectural creativity and features Marvin Windows and Doors and see how they measure up against their peers.  It’s a yearly chance to show off their most award-worthy project and get the attention they deserve. This year, there are new judging categories as well as an extended award structure, which gives even more opportunities for recognition.

For more information on the program, please visit Marvin Architects Challenge 2015.

PechaKucha Night was devised in Tokyo in February 2003 as an event for young designers to meet, network and show their work in public. It has turned into a massive celebration, with events happening in hundreds of cities around the world.

Architecture alumnus featured in ‘American Builders Quarterly’

March 30th, 2015 Comments Off

Published in American Builders Quarterly: April/May/June 2015

David Corban’s architecture school thesis was “Building in the Wilderness Environment,” and he has since kept his designs true to their surroundings. (Photo: Erik Keller)

David Corban’s architecture school thesis was “Building in the Wilderness Environment,” and he has since kept his designs true to their surroundings. (Photo: Erik Keller)

Sunshine State Sustainability

Through award-winning residential and civic projects, eco-conscious architect David Corban (BARC May 1989) continues to find ways to celebrate Florida’s natural landscape

First, talk a little bit about your background.

I’m a Mississippi native. I was born and raised [there]. I attended Mississippi State. That had an impact. I got a very good architecture education there; my professors influenced me, especially Samuel Mockbee, who later founded the Rural Studio at Auburn University.

How did he influence you?

I worked most especially with him through my fifth-year thesis project. He was one of my critics. I was able to learn a lot from him that way. The subject of my fifth-year thesis project was “Building in the Wilderness Environment.” The ideals that informed my designs at that time are still important to me now—treading lightly on the landscape and integrating designs within their specific environment.

From Samuel, I learned a strong sense of regionalism and a belief that all people, not just the wealthy, deserve an architect’s best effort. Ever since I started my firm, I have had a constant stream of nonprofit clients.

Haldeman Creek House When Corban and his wife, both sailors, set out to find a house on the water, what they stumbled on was a unique site with a small cove and an old boathouse built on top of it. The siting and the footprint of the boathouse, which the couple occupied until their daughter came along, gave the home its striking vertical profile, and its position over the water helps it catch naturally cooling breezes, which are further enhanced by operable windows, an operable shade structure, vented skylights, and 5- to 12-foot overhangs. The home takes design cues from the traditional fish camps found throughout South Florida, and it was recognized as one of the 100 best Florida buildings of the past 100 years by the Florida chapter of the American Institute of Architects. (Photo: Ed Chappell)

Haldeman Creek House
When Corban and his wife, both sailors, set out to find a house on the water, what they stumbled on was a unique site with a small cove and an old boathouse built on top of it. The siting and the footprint of the boathouse, which the couple occupied until their daughter came along, gave the home its striking vertical profile, and its position over the water helps it catch naturally cooling breezes, which are further enhanced by operable windows, an operable shade structure, vented skylights, and 5- to 12-foot overhangs. The home takes design cues from the traditional fish camps found throughout South Florida, and it was recognized as one of the 100 best Florida buildings of the past 100 years by the Florida chapter of the American Institute of Architects. (Photo: Ed Chappell) 

So how did you end up going from Mississippi to Florida?

After finishing school, I moved to Florida. My grandparents had always vacationed in Florida, and we came down here for spring-break holidays and I liked it; I liked the beach and the Everglades. And, when I finished school, there was a construction downturn in Atlanta and Birmingham—areas where, traditionally, Mississippi State graduates go.

So, I had worked a couple of summers down here in Florida at a firm in Ft. Meyers. After I graduated, in 1990, I was offered a job at that firm that lasted for about a year and a half. And then I started at [Andrea Clark Brown Architect] in Naples and worked there for more than four years. Following that, I became a partner at [Architectural Network] in Naples. I was there for about eight years and built that up into a very successful, award-winning architecture firm. And then, about eight years ago, I decided that I would do best and have the most success and opportunity for doing good design on my own.

 

How would you describe your approach on your own?

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Corban says the design of his own home is one of the accomplishments he is most proud of in his career. (Photo: Ed Chappell)

We [architects] always have an obligation to our clients, but also there is a kind of unspoken obligation to the larger community and to the environment. So, I feel strongly that buildings have to respond to the environment. As architects, we have to take a leading role in combating climate change because buildings and architecture are some of the largest users of fossil fuels. So, it’s important, whether it’s in the program or not, to create buildings that are built for their environment. And, I also think our buildings should be a good player within the community. I don’t think we should do buildings that call a huge amount of attention to themselves. They should be part of the context, whether urban, a natural context, or a more pristine environment.

How does the context of Southwest Florida and its landscape inform your work?

I think what we’re trying to do as an architectural firm is appropriate to the Florida landscape. For instance, with Grace Place, we could have done a large 15,000-square-foot single building, but this nonprofit organization is located in the middle of a single-family neighborhood, so we wanted to give it a more residential scale. Also, some of the residential projects we’ve done are more appropriate to the Florida landscape than the kind of mini-castles—the kind of Noveau-Mediterranean buildings that look like they belong in Spain or the east coast of Florida more than the west of Florida. So, I think the projects we’ve done fit better in the Florida landscape. Buildings that are intended for Florida are a fairly new thing, and I think it probably started with Seaside, up in the panhandle, going back over 30 years ago. It was the start of people embracing an architecture that belongs in Florida. That style of architecture is more historically generated architecture than what I’m trying to do, however. I want to use the materials and scale of the Florida vernacular … but do it in a 21st-century method, using contemporary materials and things that we have available to us now. So, I suppose it’s kind of a modern vernacular.

What are some of your proudest moments so far as an independent architect?

Probably the biggest one would be when my home [Haldeman Creek House] was selected by the AIA Florida as … one of the top 100 buildings in the last 100 years. So, it’s right up there with some Frank Lloyd Wright buildings and Paul Rudolph. I was very flattered to get that award and that recognition.

Modern Residence in Old Naples In Florida, hurricane codes require homes to be built to withstand 175 mph winds, with windows that can’t be shattered by flying objects, so the common architectural approach is to use small windows and heavy construction. Corban’s 4,500-square-foot seasonal Old Naples home, though, built for a Washington, DC-based couple, is a light and airy structure designed to stand out from the crowd with contemporary architecture, natural materials, and carefully engineered floor-to-ceiling windows that offer unobstructed views. (Photo: Ed Chappell)

Modern Residence in Old Naples
In Florida, hurricane codes require homes to be built to withstand 175 mph winds, with windows that can’t be shattered by flying objects, so the common architectural approach is to use small windows and heavy construction. Corban’s 4,500-square-foot seasonal Old Naples home, though, built for a Washington, DC-based couple, is a light and airy structure designed to stand out from the crowd with contemporary architecture, natural materials, and carefully engineered floor-to-ceiling windows that offer unobstructed views. (Photo: Ed Chappell)

What about bigger projects?

The Cambier Park Bandshell—it has kind of become an icon of Naples. I think everyone knows that structure, and we won a state excellence in architecture award for that. We found a way to come up with something interesting; we found things in the program and the building to do a piece of architecture that solves more problems than what people expected from it. It was really just supposed to expand the space and add some bathrooms, but we also improved the acoustics and provided a building that forms an entrance from Fifth Avenue into the park.

Where is your practice now, and where is it going?

When I first started practicing on my own, it was probably the worst time in the world to do that. We were at the bottom of the market; Florida was at the top of the foreclosure issue, and there was just not much work to be had out there. But, we pushed through it by building relationships and working with nonprofits. When you don’t have a lot of work, I think it’s good to do pro bono work so that you’re keeping busy and creating relationships, even when you’re not getting paid for it. So, that’s paid off for us, and now we’re six people, which is not large by many standards, but we’re very busy now. We’re doing interesting projects, and people are coming to us for the work we’re doing, … saying, “We’re looking for that type of architecture.” That’s a place where an architect wants to get to, where people aren’t just finding you in the phone book and saying, “Okay, draw up some blueprints”—instead, they’re saying, “I like the work you do; I’d like you to do this project for us.” That’s where we’re at now; I think that’s a good place to be, and we’d like to continue along that path, to continue to work with clients who feel the same about architecture and the built environment as we do—and continue to improve the landscape of Collier County, South Florida, and further out if possible. 

[Ed. note: Since the release of David Corban’s feature for American Builders Quarterly, he has won two awards for a new project, the Immokalee Zocalo. His plans for the job won an Excellence in Design award from the Florida Southwest Chapter of the American Institute of Architects and an Audrey Nelson Community Development Award from the National Community Development Association.]

Student-designed, built shelters now open at MSU Golf Course

March 27th, 2015 Comments Off

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Photo by Megan Bean | Mississippi State

Golf_Course-shelters-ribboncut_20150323_M4B4179

Photo by Megan Bean | Mississippi State

By Leah Barbour | Mississippi State University

Local golf enthusiasts joined Mississippi State University administrators, faculty, staff and students this week for the unveiling of two on-course shelters at the MSU Golf Course.

The new structures at the fourth and 10th holes, complete with men’s and women’s accommodations and cart parking spaces on each side, were designed by second-year architecture majors and built by second-year building construction science students.

Both the School of Architecture and the building construction science academic program are part of MSU’s College of Architecture, Art and Design.

The work was completed during the fall semester collaborative studio, coordinated by associate professor Hans Herrmann and assistant professor Emily McGlohn of the architecture school, along with assistant professor Tom Leathem and lecturer Lee Carson of building construction science.

“Thank you for your active involvement, for the collective leadership from all our faculty and for everyone involved in this,” said MSU President Mark E. Keenum at the ribbon-cutting ceremony. “This is an opportunity to really showcase what Mississippi State talent is about. What a great new addition this is, not only to this golf course, but to our professional golf management program.”

The PGM program, housed in the College of Business, is the second oldest sanctioned by the Professional Golfers’ Association of America. Students completing the four-and-a-half-year curriculum receive a bachelor’s degree in marketing and 16 months of practical work experience.

Michael Berk, architecture school director, said MSU is the only institution of higher learning in the country to require all second-year architecture and building construction science students to complete a full year of collaborative studio.

“There’s no other school in the nation to require two full semesters of working together,” agreed Jim West, dean of the College of Architecture, Art and Design. “Our students have the opportunity to do truly collaborative work, and we’re always interested in having these types of projects for the community and our students and faculty.”

Though building construction science and architecture students have completed their portion of the project, MSU Department of Landscape Architecture students will continue by improving the landscaping around the buildings, said Craig Capano, director of the building construction science program.

“This is only the first of many projects that I hope we can all do together,” he said. “We’ve already started discussions about next fall, and the faculty have some great ideas. And that’s what Mississippi State is all about–it’s about learning; it’s about changing; it’s about improving.”

Sharon Oswald, College of Business dean, emphasized the on-course shelters also benefit PGM students.

“I want to thank the faculty, and particularly the students, on behalf of the PGM program and the MSU Golf Course,” Oswald said. “We love collaborative projects, and anything we can ever do to help, we will.”

The 6,390-yard, par-72 course, located three miles east of campus at 1520 Old Highway 82, opened to the public in 1986. Along with the two on-course shelters, cart path and driving range, the course features a 5,000-square-foot clubhouse with men’s and women’s locker rooms, a snack bar, and a fully stocked golf shop and classroom.

School, ICAA host Dan and Gemma Camp Workshop in Classical Design

March 25th, 2015 Comments Off

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The Institute of Classical Architecture and Art (ICAA) in conjunction with the School of Architecture at Mississippi State University recently hosted the Dan and Gemma Camp Workshop in Classical Design.

The two-day workshop included a series of presentations from ICAA representatives teaching classical design, a tour of Starkville’s Cotton District by its founder and developer Dan Camp, a reception sponsored by Duncan-Williams Inc. Investment Bankers, and a drawing session.

The program was made possible by an endowed gift from Dan and Gemma Camp as well as generous gifts from Briar and Michelle Jones and Duncan-Williams Inc. Investment Bankers.

Friday Workshop:

Cotton District Tour:

Friday Reception:

MSU honored for architectural, design collaborations

March 20th, 2015 Comments Off

Mississippi State University faculty won the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture's Collaborative Practice Award for leadership in the design and construction of the Green Building Demonstration Pavilion, left, at Oktibbeha County Heritage Museum in Starkville. (Photo by Megan Bean.) MSU faculty received the ACSA Design Build Honorable Mention for development of public transit shelters, including the one shown at right, for the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians in Philadelphia. (Photo submitted.)

Mississippi State University faculty won the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture’s Collaborative Practice Award for leadership in the design and construction of the Green Building Demonstration Pavilion, left, at Oktibbeha County Heritage Museum in Starkville. (Photo by Megan Bean.) MSU faculty received the ACSA Design Build Honorable Mention for development of public transit shelters, including the one shown at right, for the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians in Philadelphia. (Photo submitted.)

By Leah Barbour | Mississippi State University

The Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture recently honored two Mississippi State faculty teams with education awards.

The Washington, D.C.,-based association annually recognizes university architecture faculty who complete exceptional projects in building design and community collaborations, among other categories.

MSU’s team from the College of Architecture, Art and Design and the MSU Extension Service received the 2014-15 ACSA Collaborative Practice Award for the Green Building Demonstration Pavilion at the Oktibbeha County Heritage Museum in Starkville.

Recognized faculty include Cory Gallo, assistant professor of landscape architecture; Hans C. Herrmann, associate professor of architecture; Suzanne Powney, assistant professor of art; Justin Taylor, assistant clinical professor of architecture; Brian Templeton, extension associate in landscape architecture; and Wayne Wilkerson, associate extension professor.

The Oktibbeha County Heritage Museum, the regional demonstration site for green infrastructure and sustainable building technologies, took four years and more than 100 MSU students to complete. The Starkville museum was cited in the award for following best practices in school-based community outreach programs.

In 2013, the museum project also received major national recognition with the American Society of Landscape Architecture’s Award of Excellence in Student Collaboration, the highest honor bestowed by the ASLA.

Additionally, the 2014-15 ACSA Design Build Honorable Mention went to MSU faculty members who oversaw the project to build public transit shelters a student team developed for the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians in Philadelphia.

In addition to Herrmann, the group of honored faculty are Alexis Gregory and Emily M. McGlohn, both assistant professors of architecture, and assistant professor Tom Leathem and lecturer Lee Carson, faculty in the college’s building construction science program.

“Award winners inspire and challenge students, contribute to the profession’s knowledge base and extend their work beyond the borders of academy into practice and the public sector,” according to the ACSA’s website, www.acsa-arch.org, where the winning applications are available.

School of Architecture assistant professor featured on WTVA

March 16th, 2015 Comments Off

Tishomingo history timeline complete

(WTVA)

Tishomingo Mayor James Tennyson has waited for this day to arrive.

“Things have progressed slow, but we can see the end result,” said Tennyson.

A timeline in the form of panels pieces together the life and experiences of generations of people including one of the earliest inhabitants, Chief Tishomingo.

It is located in the Tishomingo community center.

Tishomingo native Justin Taylor, assistant professor in the School of Architecture at Mississippi State University, has worked tirelessly to bring the exhibit to life.

“Putting together this timeline, you find out lots of things we didn’t know, lots of pictures we didn’t know we had or could get a hold of,” said Taylor.

As word spread of the developing timeline, locals came forward with contributions that amazed all involved, including Mayor Tennyson.

“There’s just a lot of information here on history that people does not know, and it took a lot of digging up; but we found it,” added Tennyson.

Pictures would tell the story of a town that would begin as a settlement along the original Natchez Trace and would later be incorporated in 1908.

“Tishomingo has a very interesting, fascinating history and most folks don’t know about it – especially the younger folks,” said Alderman Anne Taylor.

Justin Taylor is one of those young people, but one very much interested in town history and preserving it in a building he designed.

The building’s exterior elements celebrate what once stood near the new building – a cotton gin. The gin yard was a gathering place as this new community center has become.

“It’s all about telling a story. It’s about giving something back for me. It’s about giving back to the place I grew up,” added Taylor.

The late Alderman Jim Burns also wanted that story told.

He donated money for the land and building to help preserve the history of Tishomingo.

Other personal donations also helped to make the facility a reality.

Mississippi Development Authority grants along with a $25,000 contribution from the city helped to fund the project.

CAAD holds Academic Insight 2015

March 11th, 2015 Comments Off

On Saturday, Feb. 28, the College of Architecture, Art and Design held Academic Insight, an event for admitted MSU students and their guests.

The event, held at the Leo W. Seal M-Club, was meant to help students get a better understanding of the programs within the college and was a chance for students to meet other incoming students, current students and professors.

After a department fair, students and their guests had a chance to mingle with current students and faculty over breakfast before Dean Jim West presented an overview of the college.

After the presentation, the group split up into the four college units – architecture, art, interior design and building construction science – and went to those facilities for a “breakout session.”

During the sessions, parents had a chance to meet with the program directors and faculty while students worked on an activity meant to give them a glimpse into their program.

The School of Architecture split students into groups and presented them with a bag of supplies: 20 pieces of spaghetti, one yard of string, one yard of masking tape and one regular marshmallow. The groups were challenged to build the tallest tower in 18 minutes.

A few groups triumphed, while others found that their towers crumbled from the enormous weight of the marshmallow.

School of Architecture, ICAA to host classical architecture workshop

February 24th, 2015 Comments Off

Poster Design: Jeanz Holt | ICAA

Poster Design: Jeanz Holt | ICAA

The Institute of Classical Architecture and Art (ICAA) in conjunction with the School of Architecture at Mississippi State University is pleased to announce the Dan and Gemma Camp Workshop in Classical Architectural Design. The program is made possible by an endowed gift from founder and developer of Starkville’s Cotton District development Dan and Gemma Camp as well as generous gifts from Briar and Michelle Jones and Duncan-Williams Inc. Investment Bankers.

Participation in this FREE workshop will provide 6 CEUs:
• Friday afternoon: 2 regular LUs and 2 HSW LUs (Register here)
• Saturday: 2 LUs (Register here)

Open to friends of the School of Architecture, builders, practicing architects and MSU students, this workshop will provide an introduction to the practice of classical architectural design.

A series of presentations beginning early in the afternoon of Friday, March 20 and continuing through March 21 (see schedule below), will be held in Starkville, MS, at the School of Architecture and will introduce the language and principles of classical architectural design and traditional urbanism and its practice today. The day will conclude with a guided tour of Starkville’s historic Cotton District and a dinner reception at MSU’s Hunter Henry Center.

On Saturday, participants will have an opportunity to explore in greater depth the language of classical design through drawing and examine examples of classical design on the campus of Mississippi State.

The program will be presented by practitioners and educators active in the field of classical design.

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Schedule

Events will be held in the Robert and Freda Harrison Auditorium in Giles Hall – 899 Collegeview Street, Mississippi State, MS 39762 – unless otherwise noted.

FRIDAY, March 20, 2015 (2 regular LUs and 2 HSW LUs)
1:00 – 1:15 pm           Welcome and Introduction – Michael Berk + ICAA
1:15 – 2:00                  A Classical Primer – ICAA
2:00 – 2:45                 Elements of Classical Architecture – ICAA
Break
3:00 – 3:45                 The Practice and Craft of Classical Architectural Design – ICAA
3:45 – 4:30                 Making Places: Buildings and Public Spaces– ICAA
4:30 – 6:30                 Tour of the Cotton District – Michael Fazio, Dan Camp, ICAA Members
6:30  – until                Dinner and Reception at the Hunter Henry Center, MSU Campus

Click here to register for Friday. 

(Remember, the event is FREE, but you must register. Please bring a sketch pad to this session. Minimum size: 8.5 x 11″).

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SATURDAY, March 21, 2015 (2 LUs)
10 am – noon                Introduction to Classical Elements
Field Study and Drawing – Classical Architecture on the MSU campus

Click here to register for Saturday. 

(Remember, the event is FREE, but you must register. Please bring a sketch pad to this session. Minimum size: 8.5 x 11″).

Download the poster.

 

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.

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