Was I in heaven this weekend? Was it a dream? I think there were not one, not two, but three really informative articles about architecture in the Clarion-Ledger. I know I usually leave such things to Friday’s News Roundup, but this was just too good to pass up.
In Saturday’s Style section, an article by Billy Watkins about a house in the Woodland Hills neighborhood in Jackson that I’ve driven past many times. It catches your eye because there are five perfectly straight fir-looking trees sticking up straight through five holes in the eave/roof. The article is titled “Through the Roof: Trees add drama to unique 1950s design” and it turns out the trees weren’t part of the original design but the architect Nick Davis still thinks they’re “brilliant.” Davis, who I’ve never heard of before, worked for Jackson architect Jay T. Liddle just out of college in the late 1950s, and then went on to teach at Auburn. He said everybody at the time wanted traditional architecture, but that Liddle gave him some design freedom, and this house shows the organic feeling advocated by Frank Lloyd Wright.
Saturday’s Religion section gave us a second full-page spread about architecture, “Provine Perseveres” by LaReeca Rucker, this time taking a look at campus chapels around the state, many of which are some of the most architecturally interesting buildings on campus. There’s a big picture of Provine Chapel at Mississippi College and a smaller photo of the interior, which is very impressive.
Other campus chapels get a concise paragraph or two about their history and importance, and most get a photo as well, including Oakland Chapel at Alcorn State, Fulton Chapel at Ole Miss (which also has a very recent chapel, Paris-Yates Chapel, an interesting and airy interpretation of the Colonial Revival style), and Carrier Chapel at MUW, designed by Gyo Obata. Will you think badly of me if I admit I’ve never been inside Carrier? Who among our readership has been and will tell us what they think of it?
Sunday’s article by Sherry Lucas, “Architecture firms’ designs lauded” covers the Mississippi chapter of the AIA Design Awards (which is good because I can’t find anything on msaia.com about them). Two historic preservation projects came out with top awards, isn’t that interesting? The B.B. King Museum earned an Honor Award for Canizaro Cawthon Davis of Jackson, and a second Honor Award went to the Hattiesburg Depot renovation by Albert & Associates of Hattiesburg. I was surprised that the Pinnacle Building in Jackson only got an Honor Citation, which I gather is a little less stellar than an Honor Award. I would have thought that the chatter about that building and its LEED certification would have been enough to get all the architects excited about it. Waveland School, which reopened to rave reviews after massive damage from Katrina a few months ago, also won an Honor Citation.
Here’s what the architects had to say about the B.B. King Museum project:
The challenge was making a historic brick cotton gin where King once worked the primary focus, rather than the project’s new building, said architect Steve Davis. Various options wrapped around the gin, encasing it within new construction, but ultimately that wasn’t the right way to go. In the end, the new building was pulled to the back of the site, making the historic structure most prominent.
Jurors praised it as “a very powerful solution” and lauded the project’s rustic use of materials in a modern form and ties between historic background and present day. IKBI was the contractor.
I’ve been in the building, and I like it too–sometimes these types of projects go too far in making the old building new, but in this case, I think the new and the old work well together. Plus, be sure to check out the bathrooms for some crazy modern tilework. Loved it!