Mid-Week Mid-Century: Mississippi Architect Fellow Tom Biggs

This last installment from the May 1963 issue of Mississippi Architect is an unusual one for the magazine, as it focuses on one particular Mississippi architect who was being honored by the A.I.A. We’ve looked at a few of Tom Biggs buildings here on MissPres, most of them designs from later in his career than this Fellowship and several of them now lost: the Buena Vista Motor Hotel, the George University Commons at USM, and my personal favorite, the first place on the first-ever Name This Place contest, Jackson’s St. Richard’s Catholic Church, which is quite austere on the exterior, but very warm, humane, but Modern on the interior.

As I mentioned, I think Biggs’ best design work came after his Fellowship, but here we see he was being honored for his service to the AIA rather than for design. I do think it’s interesting that only three other Mississippi architects were Fellows, and that John Pritchard was one of them. Long-time MissPres readers might remember how enamored I am of the Tad Smith Coliseum at Ole Miss–this was a joint venture of Pritchard’s firm and Brewer, Skewes, and Godbold (featured in yesterday’s post). Otherwise, I have to admit, I don’t know of any other Pritchard buildings I really love–anybody out there have a favorite?

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Tom Biggs Advanced to Rank of Fellow

The American Institute of Architects is advancing Thomas J. Biggs of Jackson to the rank of Fellow at its 1963 convention in Miami this month.

Mr. Biggs, a principal in the firm of Biggs, Weir, Chandler, Neal and Chastain, is one of 35 members in the country to be selected.
The honor is bestowed for distinguished performance in architectural design, literature, education, public service or service to the A.I.A. Less than four per cent of the Institute’s current membership of over 15,000 are Fellows.

Mr. Biggs was chosen on the basis of his service to the A.I.A. He is chairman of the national A.I.A. committee on internship training; member of the advisory committees to the schools of architecture at Tulane and Auburn Universities; member of the A.I.A. committee on academic training; member of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture; past chairman of the A.I.A. awards and scholarships committee, and past member of the Joint A.I.A.-A.C.S.A. committee on teaching of architecture. He has held all offices in the Mississippi Chapter of A.I.A.

Author of award winning entries in two national architectural competitions, Mr. Biggs was a member of the jury for the first Reynolds Student Award Competition,

He is a native of Earle, Ark., and a graduate of Georgia Tech. From 1933 to 1940 he was employed in various professional offices in Jackson, Little Rock, Washington and New York. He served in the U.S. Army from 1940 to 1945 as a lieutenant colonel, and since 1946 has been in continuous practice in Jackson.

Three other Mississippi architects are Fellows. They are R.W. Naef, F.A.I.A. and N.W. Overstreet, F.A.I.A., both of Jackson, and John H. Pritchard, F.A.I.A., of Tunica.

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This article is reprinted from the May 1963 issue of the Mississippi Architect, with permission from the Mississippi Chapter of the American Institute of Architects. For other articles in this ongoing series, including the pdf version of each full issue, click on the MSArcht tab at the top of this page.


I thought this post, a throwback to August, 2010, would be worth sharing in light of this week’s Mississippi AIA event MISSISSIPPI CELEBRATES ARCHITECTURE SYMPOSIUM.  You can read the original MissPres post as it appeared originally here. Other MissPres posts about the mid-century Mississippi Architect magazine you might find interesting are: Mississippi Architect, October 1964: I.T.T. Kellogg Plant, Corinth; Mississippi Architect, Dec. 1964: Architects’ Office; or Mississippi Architect, August 1964: Greenville Motor Bank.



Categories: Architectural Research, Cool Old Places, Modernism, Recent Past

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