STARKVILLE, Miss.--When Mississippi Maritime Museum's board of directors began discussing renovation plans for an interim museum and design blueprints for a permanent one, they contacted the Magnolia State's only postsecondary architecture school.
Faculty members and students in Mississippi State's School of Architecture and its Gulf Coast Community Design Studio answered the call.
When the museum opens in Pascagoula, it will recognize and celebrate Mississippi's 300 years of maritime influence, especially in the field of shipbuilding, said Pat Keene, president of the museum's board. The interim site will be the former Pascagoula High School math and science building, and the new museum will be constructed at River Park on Lowry Island.
"The school was most fortunate to be able to collaborate on a real project with the Mississippi Maritime Museum Board," said Michael Berk, director of MSU's architecture program. "The students benefited tremendously from this real-world experience. Their design proposals were of exceptional value and will be most instrumental in helping the museum board think about visionary possibilities."
Keene said contacting MSU was a natural choice because several architecture graduates live in the Pascagoula-Jackson County area, and Keene's son, Stewart, also is an alumnus.
"We have several architecture program graduates, and they all are involved in helping us," said Keene, former president of Ingalls Shipbuilding. "We are just very pleased to work with the university students, and all 34 of them did an excellent job."
MSU associate professor Hans Herrmann said he and assistant professor Jacob Gines involved the entire class of 34 fourth-year undergraduate architecture majors. With financial sponsorship from the museum's board of directors, the class visited the Pascagoula sites.
The students engaged members of the Pascagoula community with a charette to obtain local residents' input for renovating the interim museum site. The architecture students also developed designs for the permanent building, which should begin construction in about 10 years, Keene said.
After the students returned to the Starkville campus, they devoted the entire spring semester to developing prospective designs for the museum's home, Herrmann said.
Once the designs were finalized at the end of the spring semester, board members reviewed the submissions and sponsored a series of awards. Their recognitions included:
--Capstone Awards presented to Landon G. Kennedy, the son of Kevin and Melinda Kennedy of Clinton, and John Taylor Schaffhauser, the son of John and Jennifer Schaffhauser of Canton.
--A Design Honorable Mention awarded to Jonathan T. Greer, the son of James and Deborah Greer of Brandon.
--Studio Book Awards presented to J. Brook Dorman, daughter of Richard Dorman of Biloxi and Kitda Dorman of Anchorage, Alaska; and William J. Commarato, the son of Eric and Betty Commarato of Madison.
The students' designs are available to the public for review in a recently published project book available at http://bit.ly/MSMaritimeMuseumSites. Members of the governing board are planning a Pascagoula exhibition of the work in the near future, Herrmann said.
Museum leaders are raising funds for both the interim and permanent sites. To learn more, visit msmaritimemuseum.org.
Discover more about MSU's School of Architecture, the only accredited program in the state leading to architecture licensure, at www.caad.msstate.edu.
MSU is online at www.msstate.edu.