A custom-brick project designed by a team of three Mississippi State architecture students recently won first place in a national masonry competition.
Junior Baron O. Necaise of Gulfport presented his team’s “The Pulse” brick design at the National Concrete Masonry Association 2018 Midyear Meeting in Chicago in early August. Teammates included juniors Madison C. Holbrook of Steens and McKenzie R. Johnson of Fayetteville, Ga., who were finishing a study abroad course in Rome.
NCMA Vice President of Engineering Jason Thompson said the competition is designed to expose the next generation of architects and engineers to concrete masonry and hardscape products as a material and a building system.
“The MSU entry was highly innovative both in its design and application,” Thompson said. “The students considered an array of aspects starting with manufacturing feasibility to serviceability and performance issues in the field. The jury was blown away with the quality of the submission.”
The project is MSU’s first entry into the competition.
“The Pulse” was completed in MSU Assistant Professor of Architecture Jacob A. Gines’ spring 2018 materials course. For the assignment, Holbrook, Johnson and Necaise produced a set of eight concrete masonry units based on a single design, with each brick measuring 3-5/8 inches by 3-5/8 inches by 8 inches. The student team considered use of light and shadow, composition, orientation, usefulness and configuration while following a very specific digital fabrication process for the design and development of their custom brick.
Holbrook, Johnson and Necaise made their project eligible for the national competition after taking first place in a local Unit Design Competition sponsored by Saturn Materials LLC of Columbus.
In reflecting on the team’s success in the national competition, faculty adviser Gines noted two things he thought set the MSU group apart from the other two finalist teams from Ball State University and Iowa State University.
First, the MSU team came with its design fabricated into bricks cast out of concrete. Second, the students worked with Fred Dunand, president and owner of Saturn Materials LLC in Columbus, to manufacture a set of the bricks, Gines said.
“That definitely demonstrated manufacturability, which was one of the criteria for the competition,” Gines added.
Dunand, an NCMA member who was instrumental in getting Mississippi State started in the competition, was excited about the students’ performance in their first year of competition.
“It’s a pretty big deal that put the Mississippi State School of Architecture in front of the nation,” said Dunand, adding that the bar had been set high, and plans already have started for Mississippi State architecture students to compete again next year.
Jassen Callender, the School of Architecture’s associate director and director of its fifth-year program in Jackson, said the students’ accomplishment is “a testament to the quality and dedication of the School of Architecture’s students and faculty.”
“Professor Gines should be commended both for his willingness to engage time-honored materials in new ways and for the example he sets for students,” Callender said. “The members of the team represent the character of this generation of MSU architecture students – innovative and hard working.”
Necaise said the team is honored to be the first from Mississippi to win the NCMA Unit Design Competition.
“It was also the 100th anniversary of the NCMA, so the whole experience is something I’ll never forget,” he said. “I have a new appreciation for concrete masonry and everything I have learned through the process.”
For more on the award-winning MSU student project, visit www.msstate.edu/newsroom/article/2018/07/mississippi-state-architecture-students-selected-finalists-national-masonry.
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.
— MSU School of Architecture
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