Belinda Stewart Architects Fellow takes first at MSU Undergraduate Research Symposium

August 8th, 2013 Comments Off on Belinda Stewart Architects Fellow takes first at MSU Undergraduate Research Symposium

Taylor Keefer and Assistant Professor Jacob Gines visited this cotton mill in Jackson to discuss with the owners possibilities for what they can do with the site. Through her research, Keefer learned about what’s involved and the benefits to listing a building as a National Historical Landmark or on the National Register of Historic Places.

Taylor Keefer and Assistant Professor Jacob Gines visited this cotton mill in Jackson to discuss with the owners possibilities for what they can do with the site. Through her research, Keefer learned about what’s involved and the benefits to listing a building as a National Historical Landmark or on the National Register of Historic Places.

Belinda Stewart, FAIA, an alumna of the School of Architecture, recently established a student internship in the Carl Small Town Center (CSTC). The Belinda Stewart Architects Fellowship was established to afford an outstanding architecture student the opportunity to engage in design research and outreach efforts on behalf of small towns throughout the state, while honing their own design skills and gaining professional experience.

“The School of Architecture is set in Mississippi in the middle of incredible richness of design and architecture, a lot of which is in our small towns,” said Stewart. “Having the opportunity to know those structures and know why they evolved the way they did and why they were designed that way can make them a stronger architect. Whether they go on to practice that type of architecture or not, I think more and more people need to have the knowledge of what’s around them.”

The first Belinda Stewart Architects Fellow, Taylor Keefer, a fifth-year architecture student from Hueytown, Ala., spent the summer learning just that. She worked with the CSTC, Assistant Professor Jacob Gines and Stewart to research cotton mills in the state.

Stewart said her goal at her firm, Belinda Stewart Architects, is to help small towns figure out how they can have a viable future.

“Our philosophy is there’s always a way, and it’s just about helping them find that way,” she said. “Those are the kind of tools I think would be incredibly powerful for an intern … to go into communities and learn how to help them find that way.”

After Keefer had conducted extensive research that involved learning about the National Register of Historic Places and the National Historical Landmark, Stewart helped Keefer get in touch with the owners of a large cotton mill in Jackson. Keefer and Gines then visited the site to help the owners figure out what to do with the mill.

“They have a ton of ideas,” said Keefer, “But they still have to do lot of cleaning up of the site before anything can happen.”

Keefer said she and Gines discussed with the mill owners the possibility of getting a Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) or Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) done of the property. They also explained the possibility of listing the mill on the National Register or getting it listed as a Historical Landmark.

After the visit and more research, Keefer presented her findings, “King Cotton,” at the recent Mississippi State University Undergraduate Research Symposium, and she won first place in the Arts and Humanities category.

Keefer learned a lot during her internship and said, “It did really show me how history, something I’ve always been interested in, really does apply to architecture and practice, not just research.”

She hopes her thesis project this year will expand on her summer research.

Click here to see Keefer’s poster for the research symposium.

Click here to see her abstract.

Keefer and Gines also mapped out on a Google Map all the cotton industry buildings throughout the state (existing, demolished and ruined) using historical data from Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps, “an incredible undertaking,” according to Gines. Click here to see their work.

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