Interdisciplinary design competition teaches MSU students challenges, rewards of collaboration

Contact: Christie McNeal

Pictured are students in the first place-winning group from Mississippi State University College of Architecture, Art and Design’s recent Brasfield and Gorrie Student Design Competition. Group members were tasked with developing a proposal for the redesign of MSU’s Lois Dowdle Cobb Museum of Archaeology. From left to right, they include Tyler Letson, Heather Gillich, Mary Moore, Olivia Duhe, Shelby Jaco, Sydney White, Gaybrail “Gabby” Jones, Clayton “Clay” Crossman, John Douglas “JD” Staten and Jordan Smith. (Photo by Christie McNeal)

STARKVILLE, Miss.—A redesign project for Mississippi State’s Lois Dowdle Cobb Museum of Archaeology in the Department of Anthropology and Middle Eastern Cultures gave students in the College of Architecture, Art and Design a chance to hone their collaborative skills as part of a team effort.

Brasfield and Gorrie General Contractors, one of the nation’s largest privately held construction firms based in Birmingham, Alabama, has sponsored the annual Brasfield and Gorrie Student Design Competition at MSU for the past eight years.

Since the start of the fall semester, 94 architecture, art, building construction science and interior design seniors have been working in teams to develop proposals for the redesign of the Cobb Museum, researching and determining how exhibits should be reorganized and considering such factors as space and circulation.

“This competition provides our students with a real-world experience of high-pressure and high-stakes collaborative work,” said Dean of the College of Architecture, Art and Design Angi Elsea Bourgeois. “By learning the rewards and challenges of true collaboration, they will be better positioned to transition seamlessly into today’s job market, which requires these skills more than ever before.”

Students worked together in all disciplines to create a cohesive design that is constructible and considers aspects of Leadership in Energy Environmental Design (LEED) and a WELL Building Certification. Other design requirements were to add a gift shop and direct attention to the museum—located in the basement—from the front of the building.

The top five teams then presented their final work to Cobb Museum faculty and staff, as well as Brasfield and Gorrie representatives, who recognized the top three teams with a monetary prize.

The first-place group credited its success to good communication and trust among members, along with a well-thought-out plan.

“Everyone was really easy to talk to,” said Mary Moore, the group’s sole graphic designer.

“We came up with a concept on day one, which really helped us to all stay on the same page,” added team member Sydney White.

Brasfield and Gorrie project manager Rivers Price said, “You could tell the team had great chemistry, and they knocked it out of the park.”

Honorees for superior design included, by hometown:


BRANDON—Sydney A. White, interior design

GRENADA—John Douglas “J.D.” Staten, building construction science

GULFPORT—Heather L. Gillich, architecture

HUNTSVILLE, Alabama—Shelby C. Jaco, architecture, and Tyler R. Letson, building construction science

JACKSON—Jordan X. Smith, architecture

LAUREL—Gaybrail “Gabby” Jones, interior design

MADISON—Clayton “Clay” Crossman, building construction science

PONCHATOULA, Louisiana—Olivia B. Duhe, interior design

RIDGELAND—Mary E. Moore, art/graphic design


BALDWYN—Reagan B. Richey, building construction science

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama—Grant R, Hyche, building construction science

HOLLY SPRINGS—Kirkland C. Webber, architecture

HOUSTON—McCarley K. Hood, interior design

JACKSON—Charles M. Bowman, building construction science

JACKSON, Tennessee—Samantha K. Sullivan, interior design

MCCOMB—Margaret C. “Maggie” Clark, senior interior design

STARKVILLE—Daniel H. Ruff, architecture

TERRY—Jasmine J. Dennis, architecture

TUPELO—Katherine Huang, art/graphic design

TUSCALOOSA, Alabama—Meredith A. Hutto, architecture


BLUE MOUNTAIN—Abigail “Abby” Jackson, architecture

BLUE SPRINGS—Blake Farrar, architecture

BRANDON—Bailey E. Cummins, interior design

CANTONMENT, Florida—Luke A. Nunley, building construction science

CLARKSDALE—Taylor E. Knight, art/graphic design

HUNTSVILLE, Alabama—Nicholas R. James, building construction science

MABEN—Kaitlin W. Huguley, interior design

NORTHPORT, Alabama—Isaiah Brooking, building construction science

STARKVILLE—Jon M. Russell, building construction science, and Robert A. Scott, architecture

WEST POINT—Carlie R. Teffeteller, interior design

MSU faculty overseeing the competition included Assistant Professor of Architecture Fred Esenwein, Associate Professor of Architecture Alexis Gregory, Assistant Professor of Building Construction Science Michele Herrmann, Associate Professor of Interior Design Lyndsey Miller, Associate Professor of Art/Graphic Design Suzanne Powney, and Assistant Professor of Building Construction Science Alireza Shojaei.

Learn more about MSU’s College of Architecture, Art and Design and its academic programs at and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @CAADatMSU.

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Redesign proposal for MSU’s Lois Dowdle Cobb Museum of Archaeology

Wednesday, September 26, 2018 - 9:51 am