Contact: Sasha Steinberg
STARKVILLE, Miss.— Eighteen architecture students in Mississippi State University’s College of Architecture, Art and Design recently presented master plan and building proposals for a forestry and wildlife outreach center in Mississippi’s largest urban natural area.
The student projects were part of MSU Assistant Professor Jacob A. “Jake” Gines’s fall-semester introduction to mass timber studio course supported by the Mississippi Forestry Foundation, the fundraising arm of the Mississippi Forestry Association.
The Mississippi Forestry Foundation has long provided financial support to MSU on behalf of the Mississippi Forestry Association. In 2016, the MFF created the TIMB(R) Fund, to assist the School of Architecture in educating students on the value and benefits of building with wood through the design of a proposed state-of-the-art wood structure for public outreach and education. TIMB(R) is an acronym that stands for Timber Innovations for Mississippi Buildings Reimagined.
In 2017, the MFF committed $50,000 for continued work with the university’s colleges of Architecture, Art and Design, and Forest Resources. $37,500 of the MFF’s TIMB(R) Fund gift is benefiting the School of Architecture’s fourth-year studio course planned for five separate semesters. A total of $12,500 of the MFF gift supports the Department of Sustainable Bioproducts’ Advancement Fund, assisting with travel, research, conference participation and hosting, and other activities furthering work in the areas of cross-laminated timber and mass timber-related technology.
As part of Gines’ fall-semester mass timber studio course, nine student teams each designed a state-of-the-art forestry and wildlife outreach center located on the Fannye Cook Natural Area, a 2,700-acre site along the Pearl River in Flowood that is named for the late Mississippi pioneer conservationist and scientist and owned by nonprofit Wildlife Mississippi. Wildlife Mississippi plans to develop approximately 25 miles of trails for recreation and exercise, create wildlife and forest interpretive areas and viewing platforms/towers, construct educational venues such as a pavilion and amphitheater and provide direct access to the Pearl River. In addition to the forestry center, structures planned at the entry of the area include a visitor center, comfort station and pad site for future development.
In their project proposals, students were required to use mass timber building technologies as the primary structural system. Water management, energy and forestry conservation, and promotion of physical wellness in terms of outdoor activity also were top design priorities.
During a recent event in Giles Hall, each student team gave a presentation that left MFA and Wildlife Mississippi representatives with the challenging task of selecting three winning proposals. The building proposals also will be submitted to the Innovation 2030 student design competition sponsored by Santa Fe, New Mexico-based nonprofit Architecture 2030.
MFA Executive Vice President J. Tedrick Ratcliff Jr. presented first and second places with a monetary prize and copy of Kenneth Frampton’s book “Labour, Work and Architecture.”
Ratcliff also thanked the entire class of students for working together on a project that will help promote “mass timber as a viable option for construction in Mississippi” and “the value of forests and forestry products to our state.”
Seniors Barnes Brown of Franklin, Tennessee, and Patrick T. Greene of Southaven made up the first place team. Each received a copy of Bryan Nash Gill’s book “Woodcut” in addition to the aforementioned prizes.
“We wanted to showcase forestry in Mississippi through the landscaping you see as you go throughout the building,” Brown said. “The raised atrium space we proposed would provide visitors with a nice moment where they could see the construction of cross-laminated timber. As they walk in, our hope would be for them to say ‘Wow, this building is all wood.’”
Greene said features in his and Brown’s proposed 14,300-square-foot building design include a catering kitchen, classroom, social space, executive and accounting offices, multipurpose room, conference center and boardroom. The center itself would be built using materials harvested on-site and Mississippi-sourced softwoods, Brown added.
“Our overall and driving concept of this site is to establish a respectful relationship between the intervention of man and the untouched wilderness,” Greene said. “The method that we propose is a datum, or concrete/gravel walkway established perpendicular to the existing road, which determines the orientation of each building adjacent to it. The datum ties the tranquil essence of the lake with the natural canopy provided by the trees.”
Gines praised the students for “raising the bar and putting in a tremendous amount of work for this exciting project focused on mass timber as a renewable, locally-sourced construction material.”
“The School of Architecture is proud to be at the forefront of construction education. We want to be leaders of mass timber in Mississippi, and I believe that starts here at Mississippi State University,” Gines said. “We are thankful for the support of the Mississippi Forestry Foundation in providing funding for this architecture studio and being advocates for the wonderful work our students have done and will continue to do.”
Rubin Shmulsky, head of the MSU College of Forest Resources’ Department of Sustainable Bioproducts, also offered words of gratitude for the students’ efforts.
“I’m an unabashed advocate for wood and timber products, and the architectural buildings, structures and thoughts you all have developed will inspire people and create a market for our creative material of choice – wood,” Shmulsky said.
Part of MSU’s College of Architecture, Art and Design, the nationally accredited School of Architecture offers the only curriculum in the state leading to a professional degree in architecture. Learn more at www.caad.msstate.edu, as well as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @CAADatMSU.
Learn more about the College of Forest Resources and its Department of Sustainable Bioproducts at www.cfr.msstate.edu.
MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at www.msstate.edu.