University Studio Highlights Architecture, Construction


Earlier this year, students participating in Mississippi State University’s architecture and building construction science departments collaborated in the PCI Foundation Studio.

According to reports, the PCI Foundation Studio was first developed in 2021 after MSU received a special four-year, $100,000 grant from the PCI Foundation in 2020 to incorporate “precast concrete into the classroom.”

After receiving the grant, MSU Architecture's Associate Professor Alexis Gregory was noted to use the money within architecture courses at the school in addition to developing the studio. At the time, MSU wrote that the funding would be used to address tectonic issues and to teach the students in both architecture and construction how to work together to better prepare them for careers in which their fields regularly collaborate.

Further, the funding aimed to create lasting relationships between the university, industry partners and the professional architecture field. Precast industry partners at the time included Jackson Precast (Jackson, Mississippi) and Tindall Corporation (Moss Point, Mississippi).

Collaboration, Foundation Awards

During the spring semester, MSU students reportedly developed a design for a Habitat for Humanity house that could be repeated on an existing site owned by the Starkville Area Habitat for Humanity.

For this project, students split into 16 teams made up of two building construction science students and two or three architecture students. Tasked with creating a three-bedroom house that met all of the Habitat for Humanity requirements using precast concrete as the primary architectural cladding material, students were particularly challenged in designing aesthetic exterior walls that were durable, tornado resistant and structural loading.

In addition, the walls also had to have notable thermal performance, were cost efficient and could be assembled by non-professional labor in a timely manner.

According to MSU, each team developed three different house designs and three different construction systems for the house exterior walls. For the final presentation, teams selected just one house design and one construction system. Throughout the process, the teams met twice during the semester with precast industry partners for feedback and advice for the design of the precast concrete architectural cladding.

During presentations, the teams presented to a representative of the Starkville Area Habitat for Humanity and several precast concrete industry partners for the Schematic Design presentations. The architecture faculty included Studio Assistant Ryan Ashford, Associate Professor Alexis Gregory and Professor John Poros; Building Construction Science faculty included Assistant Professor Mohsen Garshasby, Ph.D., and Instructor Briar Jones.

Winners of the project were Team 3 and Team 12.

Students from Team 3 included:

  • Chapman Cooper (BCS Student);
  • Elaine Otts (ARC Student);
  • Kobe Clouthier (ARC Student);
  • Elizabeth Gallagher (BCS Student); and
  • Jacob Bryson (ARC Student).

Students from Team 12 included:

  • Colby Stalcup (BCS Student);
  • Mary Stafford Shurden (ARC Student);
  • Michael Chew (ARC Student);
  • Tanner Madison (BCS Student); and
  • Du'Juan Brown (ARC Student).

Each received $500 to split equally among members. Additionally, it was reported that winning projects were also submitted to the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture’s 2022 Habitat Design Competition. This year, students were asked to develop a “climate-positive design with precast concrete as the primary building material.”

The competition is a partnership between the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association (NRMCA) and Habitat for Humanity International, Inc. The Habitat: Climate Positive Concrete Housing Competition is based on the Habitat for Humanity U.S. Construction standards for affordable, resilient, sustainable and accessible homes.


Tagged categories: Architecture; Colleges and Universities; Color + Design; Color + Design; Commercial / Architectural; Competitions; concrete; Design; Design - Commercial; Education; Habitat for Humanity; NA; North America; Program/Project Management; Residential

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