Academic exploration: MSU undergraduate research featured at interdisciplinary symposium

April 26th, 2018 Comments Off on Academic exploration: MSU undergraduate research featured at interdisciplinary symposium

(left to right) Back Row: Baron Necaise, Felipe Olvera, Duncan Thomas, Blake Farrar, Assistant Professor Alexis Gregory, Will Jordan, Emily Turner, Bailey McDaniel; Front Row: Olivia Baker, Madison Holbrook, McKenzie Johnson (photos by Alexis Gregory)


Hosted by the university’s Judy and Bobby Shackouls Honors College, the annual Mississippi State University Spring Undergraduate Research Symposium received 165 submissions from students conducting faculty-guided research. Projects were assigned to one of four categories—arts and humanities, biological sciences and engineering, physical sciences and engineering, and social sciences. Certain categories had multiple award winners due to the large number of submissions.In recognition of the university’s Carnegie Community Engagement Classification, a community engagement track also was included.

A team of 46 campus faculty and graduate students representing a cross-section of academic areas served as competition judges. Featured speaker for the symposium was John Bickle, professor and head of MSU’s Department of Philosophy and Religion.

David Shaw, vice president for research and economic development, said undergraduate students are an integral part of the multi-faceted research underway at MSU.

“Pursuing research opportunities is a critical part of academic life on our campus, and our students are recognized for their commitment to discovery, creation and exploration in our labs, studios, library, research farms and beyond,” Shaw said. “We are pleased that members of our faculty are committed to providing undergraduates with meaningful roles in the overall research enterprise and promoting interdisciplinary research as an important component of scholarly activity.”

Taking first place in the oral presentation, arts and humanities category was Emily E. Turner of Starkville, a senior architecture major mentored by Alexis Gregory, associate professor of architecture.

Also selected for inclusion:

  • William Jordan’s project, “Working in Hand,” was co-authored by Baron Necaise, Olivia Baker, and Felipe Olivera and was completed under the guidance of Associate Professor Alexis Gregory.
  • Duncan Thomas’s poster, “Post-Occupancy Analysis – Learning From the Existing and Fixing for the Future,” was co-authored by McKenzie Johnson, Madison Holbrook, and Blake Farrar and was completed under the guidance of Associate Professor Alexis Gregory.

For more on MSU’s Judy and Bobby Shackouls Honors College, visit and follow on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @ShackoulsHonors.


First-year architecture students travel to Georgia

April 9th, 2018 Comments Off on First-year architecture students travel to Georgia

First-year architecture students (ARC 1546 Studio IB) recently traveled to Atlanta and Savannah, Ga., with Associate Professor Hans Herrmann, Assistant Professor Silvina Lopez Barrera and Visiting Assistant Professor Francesca Hankins.

In Atlanta, students visiting the following:

  • High Museum of Modern Art
  • Museum of Design Atlanta (MODA)
  • A downtown walking tour that included:
    • Hyatt Regency
    • Marriott Marquis
    • Westin Peachtree Plaza
  • Atlanta Central Library
  • Mack Scogin + Merril Elam – office tour

In Savannah, students experienced:

  • A downtown walking tour, including:
    • City Market
    • Johnson Square
    • Wright Square
    • Oglethorpe Square
    • Cathedral of St. John the Baptist 
    • Lafayette Square
    • Madison Square
    • Jepson Center for the Arts
    • Telfair Academy
    • Owens-Thomas House
  • Graveyard(s) tour /talk

Mississippi Business Journal article features MSU School of Architecture director

March 28th, 2018 Comments Off on Mississippi Business Journal article features MSU School of Architecture director

By | Becky Gillette | Mississippi Business Journal

“Green design” in architecture is far more than a buzz word or a fad. It is increasingly just the way things are done to not only preserve the environment, but the value of the owner’s investments.


Green architecture as a phrase may be a fad, said Michael Berk, AIA, director of the School of Architecture at Mississippi State University. The word he prefers is ecological design, that is designing in concert and in balance with the natural systems around us, working with these systems instead of against them.

The U.S. Green Building Council Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) guidelines are now used by many federal projects, as well as state and local governmental projects and private developments.

“The purpose of the guidelines is to minimize energy use, maximize resources, minimize land use and create healthier, sustainable construction and living environments,” Berk said. “In and of itself, it is not going to solve the world’s problems. But it is a good minimum standard like the building code is a good minimum standard. LEED guidelines are now fundamentally a standardized practice for building design, construction and commissioning. Homes are probably the largest investment most people will ever make, and green building techniques maximize the return on investment because buildings are designed to last and perform efficiently and economically.”

In the future, major changes will be coming in how buildings are powered. Berk said at present, electricity comes from large, centralized power plants many miles away, and approximately 40 to 60 percent of the energy is lost through friction and heat dissipation in the grid before it gets to the end user.

“That is not a good economic model,” Berk said. “We now have the solar technology that makes it possible for every building to take care of its own energy needs. The future could be based on a ‘distributed power model’ for localized energy generation. A comparison is the Internet and stand-alone computers versus the mainframe computer and dumb terminals. Currently we have buildings that rely on central power plants. We could use the energy grid in the same way that the Internet operates and allow each building on the grid to make its own energy and send excess energy to other places when there is excess and purchase additional energy from the grid when it is needed. Photo-voltaic collection makes economic sense right now.”

Berk said internationally the clean energy sector is growing at a phenomenal rate in terms of jobs and economic development.

“Japan, Germany, China and South Korea have figured it out, and they are leaving us in the dust,” he said. “The U.S. led the world in solar and wind technology 15 years ago and it now appears that many nations are leapfrogging ahead of us.”

Green architecture applies not just to new but existing buildings, said Allison H. Anderson, FAIA, LEED-AP, unabridged Architecture PLLC, Bay St. Louis, who in 2002 became the first architect in Mississippi to be LEED accredited.

“One principal is the greenest building is an already existing building, if you can keep it in a functional condition,” she said. “If you have a building that can be renovated, that is the best situation. You have already fired the bricks and cut down the trees. Those are resources that have already been extracted or harvested.”

For existing buildings, Anderson recommends better insulation, upgrading windows and doors to reflect the heat rather than absorbing it and “cool roofs.”

“Roofs are really important in this climate,” she said. “If you are going to replace your roof, you should look at cool roofs which are very bright white that reflects the heat instead of absorbing it.”

She recommends covered spaces outdoors to reduce the urban heat island effect. An example is trees shading permeable parking lots. For a really green building, install low-flow toilets, sinks and showers, and upgrade mechanical equipment. Replace lights with LEDs bulbs, and install motion occupancy sensors so lights turn off automatically when people are not in the room.

Even before Hurricane Katrina, Anderson stressed to clients that sustainability is really important. After Katrina, they realized it wasn’t just sustainability that was important, but resilience. That involves making buildings safe for occupancy before and after a storm event like a hurricane on the Coast or a tornado in the Delta. She said buildings need to be prepared for climate change that is resulting in more severe weather events.

Anderson said resilience is about the entire design of communities, not just individual buildings. After Hurricane Sandy, the 2012 Atlantic hurricane that caused an estimated $69 billion in damages, Anderson’s firm won a competition sponsored by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) called Rebuild by Design. Ten international teams were chosen to come up with ideas to make the Northeast more resilient because they weren’t prepared for Hurricane Sandy.

“Surprisingly, some of their buildings are only three feet above sea level, which is kind of shocking to us on the Gulf Coast,” Anderson said. “This project took about a year. I led a team from the Gulf Coast including the MSU Gulf Coast Community Design Studio and another firm from New Orleans. We designed city scale improvements in Bridgeport, Conn., and were successfully in getting Bridgeport $75 million in awards from HUD to improve their resilience.”

Anderson said it became apparent after Hurricane Katrina that communities must be prepared for bigger storms, higher temperatures and greater sea level change—more severe climate challenges all the way around. She did a lot of research and ended up writing an entry in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia about adapting to climate sensitive hazards through architecture.

“We talk a lot about adaption because we are going to have to adapt our buildings and behaviors to climate change,” she said. “Right now, here on the Coast, we have about 82 days a year that are more than 90 degrees. By the 2020, we will have about 100 days more than 90 degrees, and by 2080, 120 to 155 days that are more than 90 degrees. We need to prepare for that. Think how our air conditioners strain in the peak months. Think how our electrical grid is strained over peak summer afternoons.”

Anderson said it is also important to be prepared for more severe rainstorms by having less impermeable surfaces and more places for the water to go where it doesn’t cause flooding. Options include permeable paving options for parking areas and detection swales or ponds.

A good example is the Depot pond in Bay St. Louis. It stores storm water while creating a scenic spot for visitors.

“Green infrastructure can be a really beneficial attraction for cities,” Anderson said. “It doesn’t have to just be a ditch. And this isn’t just a coastal issue. There are just as many problems in Jackson or any other city that has a lot of concrete.”

Aydelott Travel Award student recipient to give Harrison Lecture at MSU

March 27th, 2018 Comments Off on Aydelott Travel Award student recipient to give Harrison Lecture at MSU

By | Sasha Steinberg

STARKVILLE, Miss.—The recipient of Mississippi State University’s prestigious 2017 Aydelott Travel Award is the featured speaker for the School of Architecture’s upcoming Harrison Lecture.

Fourth-year architecture student Daniel P. Smith’s presentation takes place Wednesday [March 28] in the Robert and Freda Harrison Auditorium at Giles Hall, home to MSU’s College of Architecture, Art and Design. The 4 p.m. event is free and open to the public.

“Historically, the Harrison Lecture Series is a unique venue to invite architects, artists and philosophers from around the country and world to share their vision and professional work with our students, faculty and campus community,” said MSU F.L. Crane Professor and School of Architecture Director Michael A. Berk.

“This year, it made sense to the lecture committee to invite Daniel, the 2017 Aydelott Travel Award winner, to share his findings and adventures of travel in analyzing and documenting important works of architecture in Europe, South America and Asia from this past summer,” Berk added. 

A Canton native, Smith visited and researched four Late Modern-style buildings during his time abroad. Structures include the São Paulo Museum of Art designed by Lina Bo Bardi and located in Sao Paulo, Brazil; Neue Nationalgalerie designed by Mies Van der Rohe and located in Berlin, Germany; Church of Saint-Pierre designed by Le Corbusier and located in Firminy-Vert, France; and the National Assembly Building designed by Louis Kahn and located in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

An exhibition of photography, sketches and writing/poetry associated with Smith’s research will be on display in the Giles Hall Architecture Gallery in conjunction with his lecture.

The Harrison Lecture Series concludes for the spring semester on April 13 with a 4 p.m. talk presented by Mark West, an educator and architectural researcher from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Part of MSU’s College of Architecture, Art and Design, the School of Architecture offers the only curriculum in Mississippi leading to a professional degree in architecture. For more, visit and follow on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @CAADatMSU.

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at

‘Dutch Complex Housing’ exhibit on display in Giles

March 7th, 2018 Comments Off on ‘Dutch Complex Housing’ exhibit on display in Giles

(Photos by Kelsey Brownlee)

From Feb. 12 through March 13, the “Dutch Complex Housing” exhibition will be on display in the Giles Hall Gallery.

The exhibit showcases ideas of multi-family housing from the Netherlands. A public reception was held on Feb. 12.

To view the Architecture Gallery schedule (presented by Tau Sigma Delta), visit

MSU S|ARC to hold alumni reception during 2018 AIA National Convention (NYC)

February 26th, 2018 Comments Off on MSU S|ARC to hold alumni reception during 2018 AIA National Convention (NYC)

The Mississippi State University School of Architecture Director’s Office – along with alumni Daria Pizzetta and Ted T. Porter – will host an alumni reception on Thurs., June 21, 2018, in New York, NY.

Held at the office of Ted Porter Architecture and coinciding with the 2018 American Institute of Architects (AIA) Convention, this informal gathering will be a time for S|ARC alumni and friends to reconnect, visit and network as well as get updates on what is currently happening within the school. Alumni and friends don’t have to register for the AIA convention to attend this free event.


Who: S|ARC alumni, friends and invited guests

What: A time to catch up with classmates, reconnect, and network with friends

When: Thursday, June 21, 2018, 6-8 p.m.

Where: Ted Porter Architecture
45 West 21 Street, Suite 4A
(Between 5th and 6th Avenues)
New York, New York 10010



Contact the School of Architecture at 662-325-2202 with questions.


School of Architecture holds annual Academic Insight event

February 20th, 2018 Comments Off on School of Architecture holds annual Academic Insight event

(Photos by Kelsey Brownlee)

On Sat., Feb. 17, the College of Architecture, Art and Design held Academic Insight, an annual event for admitted MSU students and their guests.

The event is meant to help students get a better understanding of the programs within the college and is 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.

Students interested in architecture worked with Assistant Clinical Professor Justin Taylor along with alumna Megan Vansant and current architecture student volunteers on a project using “giant Legos.” Students also toured the facilities in Giles Hall and had a chance to ask questions.

Junior MSU architecture student receives $20,000 travel award

February 20th, 2018 Comments Off on Junior MSU architecture student receives $20,000 travel award

Maria I. Ory (Photo by Megan Bean)

A junior architecture student is the third at Mississippi State University to receive a $20,000 award for travel and research.

Maria I. Ory of Destrehan, La., and daughter of Paul Joseph Ory and Tanya Ann Ibieta, will use the endowed Aydelott Travel Award to visit and research the following buildings – Casa Batllo by Antoni Guadi in Barcelona, Spain; Palace Portois & Fix by Max Fabiani in Vienna, Austria; Cuadra San Cristobal by Luis Barragan in Mexico City, Mexico; and Linked Hybrid by Steven Holl in Beijing, China. Her research will focus on how these four architects integrate color into their designs, which she will document through paintings, among other methods.

“The review committee was very impressed with Maria’s unique approach to analyzing buildings by focusing on the integration of color and design in 20th century architecture,” said F.L. Crane Professor and Director of the School of Architecture Michael Berk. “The jury was also very impressed with the professionalism of her proposal; it clearly demonstrated a high-level response to the goals of the Aydelott Travel Award. My office will look forward to reviewing the results of Maria’s research and travel.”

Charles “Trey” Box III (Photo by Megan Bean)

Junior Charles “Trey” Box III of Jackson, son of Chuck and Amanda Box, was runner-up and received $4,800 to support his international research and travel this summer on experimental housing in the 1970s. His proposal includes housing complexes in London, England; Deft, Netherlands; and Barcelona, Spain. The Trussel Travel Award is funded by alumnus Ted T. Porter.

“The Aydelott Travel Award offers a student an opportunity that can and should change the trajectory of their architectural career,” said MSU College of Architecture, Art and Design Dean Jim West.

Ory agreed, saying, “I cannot thank the Aydelotts enough for this award and the MSU School of Architecture for affording me this opportunity. I feel as though the school has really given a solid foundation for me to proceed with this endeavor and have it end in success.”

The architecture student will return to MSU in the fall to work with her faculty adviser, School of Architecture Professor Andrew Reed Tripp, to compile her research and observations into a report to be judged against his fellow Aydelott Travel Award recipients.

One student will receive the Aydelott Prize and an additional $5,000.

“This award enables students to research, visit, study and comprehend four visionary pieces of architecture in a way never available to them before. I look forward to observing a true transformation in the recipients of this award,” West said.

The $2.4 million endowment – established by the late Alfred Lewis Aydelott and his wife, Hope Galloway Aydelott – provides an award each year to four architecture students currently enrolled in the professional architecture degree programs at Mississippi State and the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville; Auburn University; and the University of Tennessee.

For more information about the Aydelott Travel Award and other fellowships in the School of Architecture at Mississippi State, visit

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university. See the story at

School of Architecture at MSU welcomes Atlanta architect for Harrison Lecture

February 13th, 2018 Comments Off on School of Architecture at MSU welcomes Atlanta architect for Harrison Lecture

By | Sasha Steinberg | Mississippi State University

STARKVILLE, Miss.—As part of its Robert and Freda Harrison Lecture Series, Mississippi State University’s School of Architecture is sponsoring a Feb. 16 presentation by a co-founder of one of the Southeast’s most recognized architectural firms.

Free to all, award-winning architect Merrill Elam’s lecture takes place at 4 p.m. in the Robert and Freda Harrison Auditorium on the second floor of Giles Hall, home to MSU’s College of Architecture, Art and Design.

Elam, who served as a visiting critic at MSU in the 1980s, is principal in the Atlanta, Georgia-based firm of Mack Scogin Merrill Elam Architects, which specializes in architecture, graphic, exhibit and interior design, planning, programming and research. Having worked together in architecture for more than 40 years, Elam and fellow principal Mack Scogin have extensive experience in the formation and leadership of multi-disciplined project teams.

While colleagues at Heery and Heery Architects in Atlanta, Elam and Scogin honed their design and management skills on project types ranging from airports and hospitals to corporate and industrial campuses. For more, visit

“Merrill Elam is certainly one of the most important and critical architects practicing in the world today. Her firm’s work has been published extensively and received numerous national design awards,” said MSU F.L. Crane Professor and School of Architecture Director Michael A. Berk.

“Since its early days, our school has had a strong connection with her firm and her partner, Mack Scogin. Many of our students over the years have had the good fortune to visit and tour their offices while on a Design Studio architecture field trip to Atlanta,” Berk added.

The School of Architecture is sponsoring two more 4 p.m. lectures in Harrison Auditorium throughout the spring semester. During a March 28 presentation, MSU fourth-year architecture student Daniel P. Smith of Canton will discuss his summer research experience as a 2017 MSU Aydelott Travel Award recipient. Mark West, an educator and architectural researcher from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, will conclude the spring lecture series with a talk on April 13.

Part of MSU’s College of Architecture, Art and Design, the School of Architecture offers the only curriculum in Mississippi leading to a professional degree in architecture. For more, visit and follow on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @CAADatMSU.

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at

MSU Carl Small Town Center’s Gregory to lead statewide planning association

January 29th, 2018 Comments Off on MSU Carl Small Town Center’s Gregory to lead statewide planning association

By | Sasha Steinberg

STARKVILLE, Miss.—A Mississippi State alumnus and community planner for the university’s Carl Small Town Center is beginning a new leadership role with the state’s professional organization for city planners.

Thomas R. Gregory III recently was elected to a one-year term as president-elect of the Mississippi Chapter of the American Planning Association. In January 2019, he will begin a two-year term as the organization’s president.

“It is an honor to be selected by my peers and colleagues across Mississippi to lead our state chapter,” Gregory said. “The work we do as planners is critical to the success of Mississippi’s communities, and I will work hard to promote our profession across the state.”

Gregory said he looks forward to collaborating with the executive team to update the chapter’s strategic plan and increase membership among planning professionals in Mississippi.

“I would also like to piggy-back on our national organization’s ‘Great Places’ initiative by creating a ‘Great Places in Mississippi’ program to recognize Mississippi communities that exemplify good planning,” Gregory added.

Prior to being named president-elect, Gregory served as APA Mississippi’s public information officer and conference committee chair. He currently serves the APA on a national level as a member of its leadership development taskforce.

Gregory, a native of Greenwood, is a 2005 MSU magna cum laude business administration, construction management and land development bachelor’s graduate who also minored in economics and political science. He returned to his alma mater during the 2017 fall semester after serving eight years as chief administrative officer for the City of Greenwood. There, he served on the board of directors for Main Street Greenwood, Greenwood-Leflore County Chamber of Commerce, Greenwood Boys and Girls Club and ArtPlace Mississippi.

A Master of City and Regional Planning graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Gregory is licensed by the American Institute of Certified Planners and is a member of Congress for the New Urbanism, among other professional groups. He is a graduate of the Sustainable Cities Design Academy, Public Interest Design Institute and Leadership Mississippi.

Part of the College of Architecture, Art and Design, the Carl Small Town Center is a statewide community design outreach program that was endowed in 2004 by MSU alumnus and major benefactor Fred E. Carl Jr. of Greenwood. For more on the college, visit; its Carl Small Town Center, at http://carlsmalltowncenter.orgor

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at

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