While many LSU students spent the month of May regrouping from the spring semester and gearing up for summer, a dedicated group of students from the College of Art and Design were busy working in McComb, Mississippi on an urban redevelopment plan for the city’s historic downtown district.
The project was part of a partnership between the LSU School of Architecture’s Office of Community Design and Development (OCDD) and the McComb Main Street Association, a preservation organization that seeks to invigorate and revitalize the downtown area. Fifteen students from the schools of architecture and landscape architecture and the department of interior design worked on the project, concentrating on specific buildings and a four-block length of Railroad Boulevard in the so-called Depot District.
“What the students lacked in real-world experience, they made up for with their enthusiasm, creativeness and diligence,” says architect Steve Cox, an LSU alumnus and the president of the McComb Main Street Association. “Students and faculty alike worked on a rigid schedule including Saturdays and Memorial Day. Now that’s dedication.”
Students worked under OCDD directors Marsha Cuddeback and Frank Bosworth, meeting with actual building owners and developing schematic designs based on the owners’ wants, needs and dreams. At the end of their two-week research and design period, they made a presentation to a packed audience at the Noon Lions Club in downtown McComb.
“The clients really enjoyed the experience and came away with some excellent ideas,” says Cox. “The synergy was a boost for McComb, and the students came away with a unique experience that will serve them well in the future.”
The recent project marked the second time in the past year that LSU students have been involved in sharing their ideas and designs with preservationists in McComb. Last fall, a group of fourth-year architecture students spent much of their urban design course developing conceptual design ideas for improvements in the Depot District.
Their partnership proved so beneficial for both sides that Cuddeback suggested doing an intercession course with students during the month of May. McComb civic leaders were only too happy to oblige.
“It has been an excellent opportunity for our students and a shining example of the kind of service-learning projects we strive to give our students in the College of Art and Design through the Office of Community Design and Development,” says Cuddeback. “We look forward to a continued partnership with the preservation communities in McComb and elsewhere in the region.”