a goal we can agree on

Working in rural areas, particularly communities in which little new development has occurred for many years, often presents challenges that surprise me despite extensive experience in these settings. I am presented with points of view, biases, and opinions that I could not anticipate. In the community of Houlka, we have received lots of support and positive feedback, but we have also gotten a lot of questions over the last few weeks. Primarily, “Why aren’t the lines straight?”

Conceived of as a means to clarify uses (parking, driving, biking, and walking) within the square, as well as an eye-catching way to draw visitors from the Tanglefoot Trail into downtown, the student design features undulating yellow and white lines for a wide bike lane and walking area. Though this functional public art  is as unexpected to Houlka residents as the desire for only straight lines is to me, there is one thing we can easily agree on: a design that will decrease the risk of collisions between vehicles and bicyclists or pedestrians.

A little research reveals that from rural to urban and across the country, many issues are constants. In San Francisco, Ogrydziak Prillinger Architects is working toward similar goals, and even has proposed a solution that shares some of the traits of our downtown Houlka project. An image of their proposal is below, alongside recent photos of the CREATE class in New Houlka. 

Read more about Ogrydziak Prillinger Architects concept on Fast Company Magazine’s website. 

New Houlka photo credits: Leah Kemp

hands on at MSU

CREATE class poster

Next week I will begin co-teaching my first architecture course at Mississippi State’s CAAD (College of Art, Architecture and Design). In this community engagement seminar sponsored by the CREATE Foundation, Leah Faulk Kemp and I will guide students through the process of engaging residents of the small town of New Houlka. As in previous years, the class will wrap up with a document in which students propose design solutions based on the goals and needs articulated by the community. In addition, this year’s class will implement one small scale project, giving students experience in the surprises that come with project implementation.

Also at CAAD, the Collaborative Studio ended the fall semester with a ribbon cutting. Students completed construction of two bus shelters for the Mississippi Band of Choctow Indians. Their work is a continuation of CAAD’s relationship with this community built upon a previous design-build bus shelter and various design and consultation services provided by CSTC since 2009. Read more about the class and the bus shelters here.

MSU Collaborative Studio A13