A spirit for service: MSU architecture students share facility design ideas for local Boys and Girls Club

Contact: Sasha Steinberg

Jasmine E. Topps, a sophomore architecture student from Columbus, presents a site plan she created for a facility design project benefiting the Boys and Girls Club of the Golden Triangle. With help from MSU’s National Organization of Minority Architects student chapter and Columbus-based firm Major Design Studio, the nonprofit organization is planning new Boys and Girls Club locations in Starkville and West Point. (Photo by Megan Bean)

STARKVILLE, Miss.—Members of Mississippi State’s National Organization of Minority Architects student chapter have been volunteering their time and talents this semester to create facility designs for new Boys and Girls Clubs in the Golden Triangle community.

NOMAS President Damion S. Hardy of Lawrence and NOMAS Vice President Jordan X. Smith of Jackson, along with chapter faculty advisers, Assistant Professor Silvina Lopez Barrera and Assistant Professor Christopher Hunter, recently coordinated a design period, or charrette, where MSU architecture students created site plans that have the potential for use in a fundraising brochure for the proposed facilities in Starkville and West Point.

“The Boys and Girls Club is doing important work for the community,” Barrera said. “This project empowered our students to use their skills for the greater good and provide solutions for a community partner.”

Throughout the design process, the students honed their conceptual modeling, sketching, conceptual massing, mapping, site planning and communication skills while working individually and in groups to design facilities with similar basic structural needs, such as rooms, gymnasiums, kitchen areas and bathrooms, while incorporating features specific to each site.

The students recently presented their renderings to Boys and Girls Club staff and supporters, community members and representatives of Major Design Studio, a Columbus-based architectural design firm that is developing the final plans for both facilities.

Nadia Colom, Boys and Girls Club of the Golden Triangle’s chief executive officer, said the new facilities will help the nonprofit organization better provide character development programs and services to inspire and enable youth to reach their full potential as productive, responsible and caring citizens.

Colom said though still in the early stages, plans currently include relocation of the Lynn Lane facility to a space near Westside Park in Starkville and construction of a new facility on Fifth Street in West Point. The Boys and Girls Club of the Golden Triangle also plans to continue operating its Columbus facility located at 14th Ave. North.

Nadia Colom, Boys and Girls Club of the Golden Triangle’s chief executive officer, listens to presentations by members of Mississippi State’s National Organization of Minority Architects student chapter. This semester, the architecture students have created design proposals for new Boys and Girls Club facilities in Starkville and West Point. (Photo by Megan Bean)

“Right now, we can only operate one pool, so we could put a pool at one facility for all of the kids to use,” Colom said. “Columbus has the best gym right now, so we could continue to build our gym and basketball programs around that facility. We would like to do something unique for West Point and build on what that community has interest in, which is an outdoor space for flag football.”

Smith worked individually on a proposed site plan that he said could help Boys and Girls Club staff better monitor children in different spaces throughout both new facilities. Construction of an interior garden at the West Point facility like the one currently housed at the Starkville facility would give Boys and Girls Club participants a space for relaxation and learning how to grow plants, he added.

“I also integrated a four-lane competition pool and standard size gymnasium with lockers to account for a swim team or basketball team of any caliber,” Smith told Colom and fellow Boys and Girls Club representatives during his presentation. “You would be able to have whatever kinds of activities you want to have in the gym because you would have the locker space, storage space and bleacher space.”

Smith said he also took note of the Boys and Girls Club staff’s request for separate social spaces for children and teenagers. He said having a more active area for teens on the building’s second floor could help draw more people from the community.

Working with “a group of minority architects who care so much about serving” has been an enjoyable experience for Colom. She said she is grateful for the fresh perspective the NOMAS students brought to the project.

“The level of communication between the organization’s leadership has really been impressive. These are college students juggling busy schedules and this is something they were doing in addition to their studies, but they were able to stay on time with meetings and took the project seriously,” Colom said. “They put a lot of detail into this, and I appreciate that.”

Part of MSU’s College of Architecture, Art and Design, the School of Architecture offers the only curriculum in the state of Mississippi leading to a professional degree in architecture. Learn more at www.caad.msstate.edu and follow on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @CAADatMSU.

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at www.msstate.edu.