MSU students recognized for wood-structure design achievements

Contact: Sammy McDavid

STARKVILLE, Miss.—Two Mississippi State architecture majors are recent winners of the highest national honors presented in a design competition sponsored by the Northeastern Lumber Manufacturers Association.

University seniors Omkar H. Prabhu, a native of Mumbai, India, and Curtis M. Reed of Montgomery, Alabama, took first- and second-place, respectively, in the organization’s Sustainable Versatility Design Awards challenge.

The judges’ vote was unanimous for Prabhu, whose award was accompanied by a $1,500 cash prize. Reed’s came with $750. Prabhu traveled to Newport, Rhode Island, earlier this semester to personally accept his award during NELMA's annual meeting.

MSU was among more than 20 institutions throughout the U.S. whose students submitted design proposals for the intense and demanding competition.

Both students are at the School of Architecture’s downtown Jackson center, completing the fifth and final year in MSU’s College of Architecture, Art and Design’s architecture program—the only one of its kind in the Magnolia State.

Founded in 1933 and based in Cumberland, Maine, NELMA is the non-profit trade organization representing the softwood lumber industry throughout New England and the Mid-Atlantic states. For more, see

The NELMA competition brief “called for the redesign of each applicant’s architecture school by utilizing innovative timber technologies and sustainable practices,” said Jacob A. Gines.

Prabhu and Reed’s winning designs were adaptations of work completed last year in the architecture school’s TIMB(R) Studio that the MSU assistant professor leads.

"The winning design proposals from Omkar and Curtis ambitiously demonstrate the potential that mass timber buildings have to positively contribute to the skylines of our cities in a way that is sustainable, responsible and beautiful. The School of Architecture is excited to be at the forefront of the mass timber movement," Gines said.

TIMB(R) is the acronym for Timber Innovations for Mississippi Buildings Reimagined. Open to fourth-year architecture majors, the campus-based studio was supported by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative  Inc., an internationally recognized nonprofit organization dedicated to responsible forest management, along with the Mississippi Forestry Association and Weyerhaeuser Co. through its SFI Conservation and Community Partnership Grants Program.

Last year, both students also won significant design recognitions. Prabhu became the fourth MSU architecture major named an Undergraduate Research Fellow of the Method Studio, a Utah-based architectural design firm. For Reed, it was the top $500 TIMB(R)-sponsored prize for most innovative uses of interior and exterior wood technologies in the design of an architecture studio.

For more about the MSU College of Architecture, Art and Design and its School of Architecture, visit, respectively, and Gines may be reached at or 662-325-0094.

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