Research within the College of Architecture, Art, and Design combines aspects of both science and art, and is therefore more than either basic research or creative expression: it aims to improve the quality of life and ranges from the development of new materials, building components, and signage that make buildings more efficient, safer, less expensive, and more durable, to the design of prototypical communities that are environmentally sensitive, energy efficient, and economically viable. The research endeavors of the College include the Carl Small Town Center (CSTC), the Gulf Coast Community Design Studio (GCCDS), and the Design Research and Informatics Lab (DRIL)
Established in 1979, the Carl Small Town Center seeks to initiate theoretical and applied research, and to serve as a national focus for the collection, storage, dissemination, and application of information pertinent to issues of special interest in small towns. Activities include graphic and photographic documentation, and computer imaging of the small-town scene. The CSTC has participated in design case studies, environmental impact studies, and economic and marketing analyses. It provides research and service assistance to towns through the redevelopment of downtowns and the implementation of other comparable community improvement initiatives. Assistance projects include community design and improvement, economic diversification, town planning, conservation of architectural and historic resources, affordable housing design and technology, and other activities that affect quality of life in the community.
The Gulf Coast Community Design Studio (GCCDS) was established in 2005 to bring planning, landscape and architectural design services to low-income communities rebuilding after Hurricane Katrina. The GCCDS is a service design practice shaped by a commitment to be useful to the community and to collaborate with many partners. The Biloxi, Mississippi studio work space is in a reused building created in partnership with the East Biloxi Coordination and Relief Center. From this shared work space the GCCDS has assisted hundreds of East Biloxi residents and has established working partnerships with dozens of non-profit organizations along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. The full-time staff consists of fifteen architects, intern architects, planners, and landscape architects, supported by federal and private grants, fee-for-service contracts, and the university. In addition to the full-time professional staff, the GCCDS creates opportunities for students and has organized annual Biloxi Studios and has collaborated with several other universities on architecture and planning studios.
The GCCDS has provided architectural services on over sixty completed new houses and dozens of rehabilitated existing houses and has provided design assistance to various building organizations for many more new houses. The GCCDS planning work includes neighborhood planning, land-use and building condition assessments and GIS mapping, site planning and feasibility analysis for housing and mixed-use projects. The GCCDS is committed to creating useful and sustainable buildings, landscapes, neighborhoods, systems, and policies that strengthen existing communities.
The work of the Design Research and Informatics Lab aims to apply state-of-the-art visualization technology to problems that yield significant improvements in the quality of life for the people of Mississippi and beyond. Located in Giles Hall, it is a state-of-the-art laboratory for the creation of multi-media productions, including videotape and CD-ROM, as well as for the development of new graphics and visualization software. Graduate and undergraduate students participate in projects that apply visualization technology to a range of multi-disciplinary problems. Work ranges from design studies of buildings and facilities on the MSU campus and around the state through master planning and visualization, to a variety of projects of national and international scope that bring together such disciplines as archaeology, anthropology, history, and the sciences.
Other research activities within the College of Architecture, Art, and Design focus on graphic design, humanities, and technology. Graphic Design addresses issues dealing with identity and branding while humanities addresses issues dealing with methodologies for programming, planning and design, anthropometric modeling and evaluation, architecture theory and history research, visual imagery and its impact, and post-occupancy evaluation of buildings by their users. Technology studies include technological evaluation of building materials and methods, energy design evaluation, solar energy equipment, construction, and testing. During the Fall 2006 semester, the College hosted its first CAAD Symposium aimed at highlighting the diverse scholarly endeavors of its faculty.