MSU architecture school to begin wood-based design studio

August 9th, 2016 Comments Off on MSU architecture school to begin wood-based design studio

(Photos provided by Jacob Gines)

Mississippi State University’s School of Architecture hopes to lead the charge in the Southeast on innovative wood research and design.

The Sustainable Forestry Initiative®, Inc. (SFI), an internationally recognized nonprofit organization dedicated to responsible forest management, recently awarded a $10,000 Community Partnerships grant for a design studio centered on wood technologies. The Mississippi Forestry Foundation and other industry partners pitched in a $12,000 match for the grant.

MSU architecture assistant professor Jacob A. Gines will use a portion of the funding for a design studio, scheduled for this fall and tailored for fourth-year undergraduate students. The studio will focus on recent innovations in wood products and construction methods.

The studio, called TIMB(R): Timber Innovations for Mississippi Buildings Reimagined, will culminate with a design competition in which students will craft plans for a mid-rise wood structure that could serve as a showcase for wood building design in Mississippi and an office space for the Mississippi Forestry Association.

“That doesn’t mean the winning design will necessarily be built, but it will provide MFA an opportunity to conjure interest and investment for such a project,” Gines said. “We at the MSU School of Architecture love the idea of being able to facilitate that process.”

Gines said a long history of “building tall with wood” in the U.S. halted following the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 when international building codes began regulating wood use in the frames of mid- to high-rise structures. But recent innovations in wood design technology, such as cross laminated timber where thicker wood panels run perpendicular throughout the structures’ frames, are opening doors to taller wood construction with better fire ratings.

“These highly engineered wood products allow us to increase the strength and span properties of wood, so we can build higher while addressing life safety issues,” he said.

The architecture professor added that a lot is being done with these new wood innovations in Europe, the Northwest and Canada, but nothing in this region.

With a showcase wood building that would demonstrate those technologies, Gines sees an opportunity for Mississippi to become a leader in the Southeast region in promoting mid-rise wood-frame construction. That would help the state’s economy, he said, since 64 percent of Mississippi’s land is forested. It’s also an environmentally friendly way to build, he added, because timber is a renewable resource.

Last year, Gines challenged students in his fourth-year architecture studio to research high-performance wood construction and design a hypothetical 20-story wood building in Manhattan, New York. His materials class and a building construction science class also worked closely with the MSU Department of Sustainable Bioproducts to further their knowledge on the subject.

MFA executive director Tedrick Ratcliff said interest in wood-frame construction is growing nationwide, and he is pleased to see MSU students looking for innovative ways to use one of the state’s most abundant resources. Regardless of whether the building the design students will propose ever comes to fruition, Ratcliff said MFA plans to make the most of the studio’s greater purpose.

“As soon as the first student puts pen to paper on one of these design proposals, people will have the opportunity to see the potential in this kind of construction,” he said. “Mississippi needs one of these buildings because people need to see it. And as people see these students’ designs, I believe it will draw businesses and other entities to want those kinds of buildings for themselves.”

Gines presented his research at the 2015 annual meetings for the MFA and Resource Management Service, LLC, a collection of investors and stakeholders in the forestry industry. In September, he will host the Timber Innovations for Mississippi Buildings Reimagined (TIMB(R)) symposium.

“This is just the beginning,” he said. “We are hoping to do some incredible things in the future as we join forces with industry and university partners.”

The School of Architecture is part of MSU’s College of Architecture, Art and Design. For more information on SFI®, visit

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Giles Architecture Gallery 2014-2015 exhibition schedule

October 14th, 2014 Comments Off on Giles Architecture Gallery 2014-2015 exhibition schedule

newSARC Gallery Schedule Updated

CAAD professors, student featured in Reflector article

October 15th, 2013 Comments Off on CAAD professors, student featured in Reflector article

Jacob Gines, assistant professor, shows students some of his work at the recent reception for the faculty exhibit in Giles Hall.

Jacob Gines shows students some of his work at the recent reception for the faculty exhibit in Giles Hall.

“Prolific Professors: MSU faculty produce projects behind the scenes, and they foster student development”

By Alie Dalee | The Reflector

One of the most understated relationships in a student’s daily life is the relation between student and professor — professors pour into students every day, positively alter their lives, feed them knowledge and shine light on their ideas. They have an unequivocal effect on students’ minds. Professors provide academic nourishment otherwise unavailable to students and color their minds with scholarship.

Professors know students’ thoughts and ideas. Professors read, edit and critique the work produced by the minds they so diligently cultivate. Yet, the work of professors is often unknown territory to students without time spent carefully combing faculty websites in search of professors’ research and accolades.

Professors continue to produce work outside of teaching to fulfill the research the university and professorship requires. However, some professors go beyond research requirements and continue to hone their craft while they teach.

Catherine Pierce, co-director of Mississippi State University’s creative writing program, is the author of two  volumes of poetry and is published in a plethora of literary reviews. She said via email she finds her writing gives her a sense of camaraderie with the students she teaches.

“I hope my students find it encouraging to know that I’m doing the same sort of work I’m asking them to do and that I’m facing the same kinds of challenges daily with regard to revising and generating new ideas,” Pierce said.

Brent Funderburk is the fine arts thesis coordinator for MSU’s Department of Art. His work hangs at the Mississippi Museum of Art in Jackson, Miss. He said as an artist he uses an extensive amount of his time to create, pretend and delve into ideas.

“I just wanted to run away, to be alone and make things,” he said. “It was always a spiritual experience to be alone. I deeply long for that state — to be alone, to find things.”

Funderburk finds part of his identity in his utilization of art as a creative outlet. He said there is also an equal part of him that identifies with students and yearns to help them understand the creation of art.

He explained his underlying need to teach others art, paralleled with his introspective desire to create, leads him to be an introverted-extrovert and exhibit a need to converse with people who share the same ideas about art. He said it is this part of his person that led him to teach.

“You can’t be still and quiet and working all at the same time, so I was encouraged to teach. I like to perform, so that was a stage where you can have a conversation,” Funderburk said. “The studio classroom is a place where you can jam with your students. Their ideas, your ideas — everyone can play music together and orchestrate that classroom.”

MSU’s School of Architecture makes significant strides to close the gap between professor and student this month. Tau Sigma Delta architectural honor society presents “Exposing Faculty,” a gallery exhibit specifically geared to display the sketches, sculptures, models and other works produced by School of Architecture faculty.

Housed in the peninsula of windows that make up Giles Gallery, Jacob Gines, visiting assistant professor of architecture and faculty adviser to TSD, has models and sketches in the exhibit that are some of the first to catch the eye upon entry.

His sketchbooks display structures across Spain and America with minimalistic beauty in intricately illustrated pencil with watercolor overlay. His master’s thesis, “Hip-Hop in Architecture,” is on display and includes a book ranging from historical accounts of hip-hop to architecture models scaled after the beats of a Tupac Shakur song. Gines said the catalyst for part of his thesis is the similarities he sees between hip-hop music and the design of buildings.

“I wanted to analyze them (hip-hop songs) based on the rhythms, and beats and patterns that existed. Architecture really deals with those same principles, rhythm and proportion and scale,” Gines said. “It’s very clear in hip-hop because those beats are expressed so clearly.”

Gines said the “Exposing Faculty” gallery allows the architecture faculty an opportunity to display the creative work and models they produce outside the classroom.

“At the School of Architecture, we interact with our students so directly all the time. We are constantly critiquing their work,” Gines said. “I think when the students see the work that we’re doing, they probably take us a bit more seriously.”

David Lewis, fourth year architecture major and current president of TSD, is the student curator of the “Exposing Faculty” exhibit. To create the exhibit, he received instruction from the majority of professors featured in the exhibition. He said he gains invaluable inspiration from viewing his professors’ work.

“I think it’s been really beneficial to be able to see that not only do the professors do architecture works, but they do other works. They can pursue other creative outlets,” Lewis said. “Plus it also gives us a really grounded sense. It establishes the credibility of our professors. To see these pretty incredible things that they’ve done gives us not only faith in the things that they know, but in the opportunities we have out there for us.”

The “Exposing Faculty” exhibit is currently on display in the Giles Gallery on the third floor of Giles Hall until Oct. 15.

TSD announces ‘Sixty-Nine Seventy: International Ideas Competition’

August 29th, 2013 Comments Off on TSD announces ‘Sixty-Nine Seventy: International Ideas Competition’

6970 exhibit announcement

The Mississippi State University School of Architecture’s Tau Sigma Delta (TSD) honor society is excited to announce an exhibit, “Sixty-Nine Seventy: International Ideas Competition.”

This exhibit, which will be on display in the Giles Gallery through September 13, showcases some of the work submitted for an international ideas competition. More than 200 architects and designers from 48 countries and across the U.S. submitted their ideas for making two blocks, sixty-nine and seventy, in the center of downtown Salt Lake a cultural hub to rival any city in America. A nine-member jury selected 15 semifinalists, including the two Jury Award winners, while the People’s Choice Award was selected by more than 22,000 online.

Jacob Gines, assistant professor in the School of Architecture, was one of the original organizers and the proctor for the judging of this competition.

“I am excited to have this work here and show it off to our students, faculty and the community at large,” said Gines, curator for the exhbit along with Alex Reeves, TSD student curator and president of MSU student chapter of the American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS).

A public reception will be held on Wed., Sept. 4 at 5 p.m. in the gallery located on the third floor of Giles Hall.

Read more on WCBI and MSU’s websites.  Also check out the extended story in the Reflector.

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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