Architecture alumnus gives back to alma mater

December 4th, 2012 Comments Off on Architecture alumnus gives back to alma mater

Alumnus Ted Porter presented the award money to the School of Architecture on Nov. 30 in Starkville and also served as a guest juror for fourth-year student final reviews. (photo by Beth Wynn | MSU University Relations)

Ted Porter may be a long way from home, but that hasn’t stopped him from staying connected to his Mississippi roots.

Porter, principal at Ryall Porter Sheridan Architects in New York, recently won the Brick Industry Association (Southeast Region) Design Award for a project he created in his hometown of New Albany. The award is given each year to an architect who uses brick in a notable way.

Porter designed a house to fill a vacant lot in downtown New Albany, and he is now leasing out the home.

“The idea was to fill a missing tooth,” he said.

The Brick Industry Association Award came with a $2,000 scholarship that Porter could designate to an institution of his choice.

“Of course I chose the Mississippi State University School of Architecture,” he said, but his giving didn’t end there.

Porter said he was recently talking to Jim West, the dean of the College of Architecture, Art and Design, about how some students don’t have the means to be able to travel, so he decided to set up a scholarship for that purpose.

“I think it’s really important that everyone has the same opportunity for travel in the school,” he said. “It’s good to be able to see great works of architecture, and often that means traveling to far, fun places. Architecture can’t truly be represented in books and online.”

Porter named the travel scholarship after an art history professor he had while studying at Mississippi State, Paul Grootkerk.

“He opened a lot of interests for me that I’ve enjoyed pursing for the last 35 years or so.” Porter said. “I think it’s good to recognize professors who have an influence on you.”

Porter presented the award money to the School of Architecture on Nov. 30 in Starkville and also served as a guest juror for fourth-year student final reviews.

 Read the article by Leah Barbour on MSU’s website.

Read the article in the New Albany News-Exchange.

Simmons discusses façade projects at Harrison Lecture

November 15th, 2012 Comments Off on Simmons discusses façade projects at Harrison Lecture

Marc Simmons talks to School of Architecture student David Lewis. (Photo by Haley Whiteman)

Marc Simmons was the final Harrison Lecturer for the fall 2012 semester.

Simmons, founding partner at Front Inc., briefly discussed his company before detailing three projects he has worked on.

Simmons described Front Inc., which he helped start 10 years ago, as a multidisciplinary design/engineering firm that includes professionals with a hybrid of backgrounds. The firm has locations in New York, San Francisco, Seattle and Hong Kong.

Simmons said he and his partners started Front Inc. “to engage in the execution of good work on our own terms.”

“We are interested in our clients, the people that have a cultural need and desire to build,” he said.

He said the company is proud of its ability to work with and listen to clients’ needs and wants on a project.

“We’ve become skilled at interpreting the context of a project,” he said, “and that is likely going to develop into a successful outcome.”

Next, Simmons explained some of those projects and the processes that went into designing and building them.

The first project he discussed had a unique challenge; for security purposes, the façade had to be 100% blast resistant.

After precedent research, drawings, tests and mock-ups, Simmons and his team created a design that met the challenge and included a large, diagonal steel grid.

Simmons next discussed a project he worked on near his office in Brooklyn. Front Inc. was asked to provide a structure to enclose a 1922 fully restored carousel.

He showed an image from his office of the team working on a giant white board.

“It all starts here,” he said, explaining that his office is full of these boards and that great ideas come from these team brainstorming sessions.

The team came up with several ideas that included a pavilion that could move sideways, projections of images from the carousel onto walls and full acrylic walls.

The final design, however, ended up including seven acrylic sheet panels that fold and have joints made out of Velcro and sailing fabric, which Simmons described as having a “Terminator 2 liquid metal aesthetic.”

Simmons and his team are currently working on an extension to the Kimbell Art Museum in Texas.

He detailed the current state of the project, and ended the lecture with a question and answer session.

Walter Hood, a professor at the University of California, Berkley, will present the next Harrison Lecture on Feb. 1 at 4 p.m.

View the full schedule.

Touchstone honored as 2012 Alumni Fellow

November 13th, 2012 Comments Off on Touchstone honored as 2012 Alumni Fellow

Bradley Tochstone accepts the award for 2012 Alumni Fellow from Dean Jim West. (Photo by Russ Houston | MSU University Relations)

Bradley C. Touchstone, AIA, was recently chosen to represent the College of Architecture, Art and Design in the MSU Alumni Association’s class of 2012 Alumni Fellows.

Touchstone, a 1992 graduate from the School of Architecture, has over 15 years of bridge design experience and has operated his own firm for the past 10 years. The founder and principal of Touchstone Architecture and Consulting, P. A., he has dedicated his career to the planning, design and construction of transportation projects worldwide.

The MSU alumnus has participated in a leadership role on some of the nation’s largest transportation projects including the $4 billion Columbia River Crossing in Portland, Ore., the $5 billion Detroit River International Crossing between the U.S. and Canada and the $245 million Christopher Bond Bridge in Kansas City, Mo. He has also worked on signature international projects including the A-25 Completion Project in Montreal, Canada, and the recently completed Saadiyat Bridge in Abu Dhabi, U.A.E.

The 2012 Alumni Fellow has given hundreds of presentations and lectures on transportation-related subjects. He has taught at the Florida A&M School of Architecture and was a featured speaker at the International Bridge Conference.

His work has been published both nationally and internationally in publications such as Architectural Digest, Bridge Design and Engineering International, Roads and Bridges, Florida and Caribbean Architect and Engineering News Record.

Touchstone and the eight other 2012 Alumni Fellows will be honored on campus Nov. 15-17 in conjunction with the MSU vs. Arkansas football game.

Check out the story about the Alumni Fellows in Alumnus magazine on Page 42!

Friday Forum discusses the architecture of hip hop

November 12th, 2012 Comments Off on Friday Forum discusses the architecture of hip hop

Professor Jake Gines discusses the architecture of Hip Hop at Friday Forum on Nov. 9.

Jake Gines, professor in the School of Architecture, presented “The Architecture of Hip Hop” at the Nov. 9 Friday Forum.

Seeing how the culture of hip hop tied into architecture and design was Gines’ thesis work, which he said was met with a lot of adversity.

Gines said hip hop and many of its related forms of expression, such as rapping, break dancing and graffiti, is something a lot of people can relate to and gives many a venue to express themselves.

“You can’t help but get a sense that there’s this yearning to voice your opinion, and the only way it’s going to be heard is in an aggressive way,” he said.

Gines learned more about this aggressive sense of expression when he visited Watts in South Central Los Angeles for research. Watts, often known for the Watts Riots in 1965, is also home to the Watts Towers. The towers were built by Simon Rodia in the early 1900s out of found materials such as steel, concrete, bottles and doll figurines and served as inspiration for Gines’ project.

He chose a piece of land to the northwest of the towers for his project and got to work on research and site models. Research included demographics, gang crime statistics, gang turfs and crime activity.

The professor also chose to explore the message and rhythm of two songs – Tupac Shakur’s “Changes,” which discusses living conditions and what we need to do to change that, and “Why We Thugs” by Ice-Cube, which conveys a similar message in a more aggressive way.

Gines applied his research to design a pedestrian bridge that would go over the railroad tracks in Watts.

“In the end, I began to come up with a scheme that allowed the architecture to gently rest on its landscape and provide movement around and through the site,” he said.

Gines had a graffiti artist paint his project on boards for his thesis presentation “in order to present it in a way that seemed to respond to the culture,” he said.

The professor later used his findings to help students make connections between various forms of music and architecture.

Big turnout for TRASHIONshow, JUNK2FUNK Sale 2012

November 12th, 2012 Comments Off on Big turnout for TRASHIONshow, JUNK2FUNK Sale 2012

Students in the School of Architecture design attire out of reused materials each year for models from MSU’s Fashion Board.

The annual TRASHIONshow, put on by the National Organization of Minority Architecture Students (NOMAS) and the MSU Fashion Board, was held Wednesday, Nov 7 in Giles Hall. People showed up from all across campus and the community for the event, which raised $160 in donations.

Before and after the TRASHIONshow, the group also held the first-ever JUNK2FUNK Sale, which raised $150.

Samantha King, treasurer for NOMAs, said the money will go toward an ADA philanthropy design project.

Some of the student’s designs are currently on display in the gallery in Giles Hall.

Next Harrison Lecture to focus on façades

November 12th, 2012 Comments Off on Next Harrison Lecture to focus on façades

(Story by Leah Barbour | MSU University Relations)

STARKVILLE, Miss.–Whether it’s the curb appeal of a new home or the marketing value of an attractively designed storefront, building exteriors impact major decisions every day.

A specialist in building facades and the materials, design and construction needed to create a beautiful and inviting building exterior will speak during Mississippi State University’s next installment of the Harrison Lecture Series.

Marc Simmons, partner at design- and façade-consulting practice Front Inc., will offer a free presentation on Nov. 14 at 4:30 p.m. in the Robert and Freda Harrison Auditorium at Giles Hall.

The public, along with students, faculty and staff, will have a chance to learn from Simmons’ expertise at making buildings attractive from the outside in.

Simmons teaches for the Princeton University School of Architecture, and his specialties include custom curtainwall and hybrid cladding system design, along with structural glass consultation.

The Harrison Lecture Series is funded, in part, through a donation from Robert V. M. and Freda Wallace Harrison and by the Department of Art. MSU’s College of Art, Architecture and Design annually offers the series.

For more information about the lecture series, contact Alexis Gregory, assistant professor of architecture at MSU, at 662-325-2202.

Can’t make the TRASHIONshow? Check out the Livestream

November 7th, 2012 Comments Off on Can’t make the TRASHIONshow? Check out the Livestream

The annual NOMAS TRASHIONshow will begin at 7 p.m. in Giles Hall.  If you can’t make the event, check out the Livestream on our website.

The Livestream should start after 7 p.m., but there may be a short delay.

If the link on our website doesn’t work, the direct link is

Architecture professor featured in The Reflector

November 6th, 2012 Comments Off on Architecture professor featured in The Reflector

By DANIEL HART | The Reflector

Professor Hans Herrmann has a lot on his plate. He has enough identities that he may be sneaking into phone booths to switch from one to another like Clark Kent. He morphs from assistant professor of architecture to student gaining a Master’s degree in landscape architecture. Then, to the research requirement of his professing, on to residential architect to continuing collaborative work at the Oktibbeha County Heritage Museum, his current design-build project with students. Does he sleep? “Not much,” he said with a smile.

That is most likely the norm for him. Herrmann said he has been pushing himself since college, where he took extreme class loads (think 22 hours) to finish his Bachelor of Science in Design on time, after transferring to Clemson University. Post-graduation, he worked for Ike Kligerman Barkley, an award-winning New York City firm, doing work he said was extremely beneficial but a bit outside a realm in which he could envision himself working.

“After three years of doing estates that people only lived in for a month of the year maybe and working for less than they pay for a piece of furniture, I thought, there’s got to be something better I can do with my time,” he said.

Herrmann said time at the firm shaped a lot of his thoughts on the practice of architecture and the role of an architect.

“I felt strongly that it’s not about how much money you spend on it but how smart the designer is. The world can’t afford for us to work that way; architects get paid to be smart about using what we have,” he said.

He cited a quote by famed architect Buckminster Fuller as an idea he has carried with him through his work and is also a driving force in his freshly-submitted application for the Rome Prize:

“Pollution is nothing but the resources we are not harvesting. We allow them to disperse because we’ve been ignorant of their value.”

This idea of reuse is a concept Herrmann integrates into his design-build projects or projects students both design and physically construct; they have come in the form of a bus shelter in Bogue Chitto, Miss., and a lantern and enclosed space made of reclaimed wood built for students of Giles Hall. Most recently, Herrmann’s sustainable work has appeared in a student-faculty collaborative project in Starkville: the Oktibbeha County Heritage Museum Green Building Demonstration Pavilion, a pavilion with a live green roof which Herrmann said utilizes the idea of SuperUse at its most basic level.

“SuperUse tries to avoid using more energy to reuse as opposed to recycling, which would be adding more energy to an existing material by grinding it up or melting it into a new form,” he said. “It’s about using it in exactly the state that it’s in.”

Herrmann said this translated to the Heritage Museum design-build project through the use of a local structure in an innovative way, to become a focal point of the museum property.

“For me, immediately this should function as a kind of billboard or piece of signage. Building at a scale much larger than they (the museum) can likely afford led me to looking for something I can take down and reuse,” he said. “Driving past Stromboli’s for the past four years and looking at that canopy, I asked Tim, the owner, would he like to be rid of it.”

An agreement was made, and the project was begun through a Maymester course in May 2012 led by Herrmann and assistant professor of landscape architecture Cory Gallo, and is still under construction. Herrmann said the work happens with borrowed equipment over weekend sessions, but through the limitations the benefits of the project are numerous.

“The project demonstrates green building technologies while talking about how it can be done in a somewhat traditional way, reusing things,” he said. “And it lets us improve another part of the city, not just the site.”

The nature of the project, with its multiple functions, is characteristic of Herrmann’s work and ethos; whether it be reuse in design-build projects or saddling up an additional degree, as he said, he’s getting multiple functions out of things:

“We’re trying to kill two or three birds with one stone.”

School of Architecture student discusses impact of Design Discovery Summer Workshop

November 5th, 2012 Comments Off on School of Architecture student discusses impact of Design Discovery Summer Workshop

On the fourth day of Design Discovery, campers were divided into groups and assigned the task of creating a “cardboard lounge table device.” The device had to serve as a chair and perform one other function. Rashidat Momoh demonstrates the chair function of her group’s device.

Rashidat Momoh became interested in architecture as a freshman in high school.  Four years later, she heard about the Design Discovery Summer Workshop during her orientation for the Honors College at Mississippi State University and immediately got to work applying.

According to the Michael Berk, director of the School of Architecture, the eight-day workshop in intended to provide “an accurate account and full simulation of the what it would be like to study architecture or design in a university setting without the added pressures of grades.”

Momoh also applied for the Johnson-McAdams Design Discovery Camp Scholarship and was one of five campers to receive the aid for summer 2012. The scholarship covered her camp expenses, including meals, lodging and supplies.

“Historically, the Johnson-McAdams Scholarship has done an excellent job of bringing diverse populations of students to our campus to engage in this workshop/camp,” said Berk, “and ultimately choose careers in architecture.”

Momoh said the workshop was a huge benefit to her. “If I hadn’t gotten the scholarship and come to Design Discovery, I wouldn’t have been as prepared for this year – money-wise and mentally,” the now first-year student in the School of Architecture said.

“Design Discovery definitely made me more aware of what we would be working on because I really had no idea what architecture was and how intense this would be,” she said.

Momoh left the summer camp both scared and excited. “But I still wanted to come here a lot,” she said. “It didn’t discourage me at all.”

Currently, first-year students in the School of Architecture are working on mock site plans through a class project called “Time Tables.” Students have been divided into groups with the assignment of documenting how a table changes during a meal, similar to how a site would change over time.

Momoh said she plans to intern for a couple of years when she graduates.

“I also want to travel, hopefully, and study overseas and maybe eventually open my own business,” she said.

Find out more information about Design Discovery.

Friday Forum explores the history of Starkville through architecture

November 2nd, 2012 Comments Off on Friday Forum explores the history of Starkville through architecture

Michelle Weaver Jones mentioned that evidence of the Choctaw Indians can be seen by the landscape along Hwy 25, which shows remnants of Indian mounds.

Michelle Weaver Jones showed buildings in Starkville and described what architecture style they were and what influenced the various design aspects.

Michelle Weaver Jones, who works in the preservation division of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, presented this week’s Friday Forum lecture (Nov. 2).

Jones used architectural styles to walk students through the city’s 125-year history.

She showed examples from around Starkville of various architecture styles and said the city has been influenced the most by the university.

There are numerous buildings built especially for rental purposes, such as duplexes or garage apartments, and she said returning veterans in 1945 and MSU students mainly influenced this trend.

Jones showed photos of what used to be railroad depots and said they signify how important the railroad used to be to Starkville.

She also showed some current downtown buildings and mentioned their previous uses. The T.E. Lott & Co. building once housed the Coca Cola Bottling Company, and Reed’s Department Store was an early post office.

Jones said Starkville has grown a lot over the past 125 years and believes historic preservation says a lot about a community and its residents.  She mentioned several historical buildings that have been lost due to simply being torn down for a parking lot or due to bad maintenance.

“I think at this point, our community really has choices to make as far as our historic properties are concerned,” she said.

“Historic preservation is the ultimate green thing; it is recycling. It’s just the smarter thing in my mind to do.”

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