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Street Talk

Design Reveal For ‘Start’ Program Is Saturday At Bozarts Gallery

Architecture is a profession long dominated by men, more so than almost any other. In a bucking the norm trend, which seems the Valley way to do things, Water Valley’s contribution to the field of architecture recently has been mainly by women. Two Valley natives, both women with architectural degrees, Leigh Ann Black and Whitney White have and will add design-driven projects to our downtown. In addition to those two Valley natives, several other women architects have made an impact here; architects Belinda Stewart, Angela Clanton, and Binu Tulachan.

I’d be remiss if I did not mention the guys like Shipman Sloan, Randy Wilson, Will Lewis, Brandon Bishop, and Tom Howorth who have all helped this downtown.

Being an architect is a demanding job that requires an eye for design, an understanding of materials, knowledge of the trades, and an appreciation for the local building vernacular. In the last decade, right at 20 architects have worked on projects in downtown Water Valley. They have brought critical skills to projects.

No matter your gender, learning how the architectural profession works and exposure to it is not so easy for curious high school and college students. That’s why the Architect Institute of America and the Water Valley Main Street Association are teaming up on a design project and one-day build effort. 

It is part of a new program by the AIA called “Start,” as in start where you are with what you have. The goals of the program are not only to build a one-day project in a public space, but participation in process to get to that build day.  That means involvement and interaction with a local architect, working with skilled trades people, and participation by interested students and community members. 

This is an exposure and learning process that hopefully increases curiosity for those who might choose a career in architecture with the lasting “built” item as a bonus.

Just so you don’t think Mississippi is an architectural backwater, the Jackson based team of Anne Marie Duvall and Roy Decker recently won a national Emerging Voices award from the Architectural League. Not only for their work in Jackson, but also for their work in the small places around Mississippi. Being an architect is a bit like being on a mission. 

Roy Decker recently said, “The world is what you make of it, for most people here in Mississippi, it’s hard. Our fundamental job as architects is to make it better.”

Making life better through design, constructing, and rehabilitations of the structures we live in and work in is the job. It is a good profession.

So back to the AIA “Start” program. The first part was back in February with a walkabout downtown looking at under-utilized public spaces and what might be possibly made to improve a space via design in a short order. This coming Saturday evening April 21 is part two of this three-part effort. It will be from 6 to 8 p.m. at Bozarts Gallery at 403 North Main Street, so be sure to come to check out this phase of the project.

 Plus, showing in the gallery will be an exhibit from AIA projects across the state. It will be a social event to meet and discuss the impact design can have on our near present and the long-term future of communities. If you’re an interested person, student or citizen, you’ll want to come and see, hear, and talk with people in the architectural community. This all is leading up to part three which is the build day and that is scheduled for Saturday May 26.

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