New MSU Interdisciplinary Design Studio to Explore the Future of the Mississippi Coastline


Contact: Christie McNeal

A sunset over the coast in Biloxi, Mississippi. (Photo by Getty Images)

STARKVILLE, Mississippi — The Mississippi State College of Architecture, Art, and Design is launching a new interdisciplinary design studio this fall for students to explore the challenges and opportunities presented by the ever-changing Gulf Coast .

The studio connects the well-established work of one of the college’s outreach programs – the Gulf Coast Community Design Studio – with students and faculty on the Starkville campus, including those in architecture and landscape architecture.

Dubbed “The Gulf Coast Studio: The New Blue Economy Coastline,” the pilot studio is made possible by an $189,000 grant from the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, Gulf Research Program , and will engage other academic and non-academic collaborators. in related research and outreach activities.

Students will reimagine the landscape, infrastructure and buildings of the coast to be more resilient and better support the changing economy. Abstract ideas and images will be presented to the public, potentially leading to real initiatives for the territory that could have an impact on its future.

The term “blue economy” refers to the sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods and jobs, while maintaining the health of the ocean ecosystem, according to the World Bank.

Architecture school director Karen Cordes Spence said it’s critical for Mississippi to explore and address these environmental and economic issues.

“A third of our population lives on or near the coast, and understanding how to move forward in a resilient way is necessary for the state,” she said.

“Design studios have the power to change people’s ideas and expectations by presenting innovative visions of the future,” added MSU Gulf Coast Community Design Studio Director David Perkes. “Such imaginative power is especially important with changing environments like the Gulf Coast.”

Perkes explained that the Mississippi Gulf Coast is currently in a particularly formative phase.

“The Gulf is now considered not only for seafood harvesting and oil extraction, but also for more environmentally dependent businesses such as aquaculture, ecotourism, recreation, research and marine technology, fisheries management and more,” he said. “The changing outlook on the Gulf economy has the potential to shape the outlook for land and real estate development along the coastline, as the natural environment is now seen as an integral part of a diverse economy.”

“We are thrilled to invite a number of voices to the table and to work collectively,” said MSU FL Crane Professor Spence. “There are many groups and individuals who want to create a thriving and resilient coastal community, and the Mississippi State University School of Architecture is pleased to serve as a catalyst for this interdisciplinary endeavour.”

The Gulf Coast Community Design Studio is a professional service and outreach program of MSU’s College of Architecture, Art, and Design. The studio was established in response to Hurricane Katrina to provide architectural design services, landscape and planning assistance, educational opportunities, and research to organizations and communities along the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

To learn more about the College of Architecture, Art, and Design, visit

To learn more about the Department of Landscape Architecture, visit

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