The ICAA Workshop in Classical Architectural Design at Mississippi State University
On February 28th and 29th, 2020, over a hundred undergraduate students and regional professionals took their seats and pulled out their sketchbooks, ready for the ICAA’s Workshop in Classical Architectural Design held in collaboration with The Mississippi State University School of Architecture. This latest installment of the ICAA’s workshops, which aim to bring the fundamentals of the principles and practice of classical design to institutions of higher education across the country, drew the program’s largest crowd to date.
The first session began on Friday, with presentations from Martin Burns of Ferguson & Shamamian, Connor Bingham and Jacques Levet of Historical Concepts, and Maricé Chael of Chael, Cooper and Associates. These presentations acted as case studies, as each architect shared the details of a project of theirs that demonstrated their engagement with and usage of classical design principles in their current work. Illustrating the integral value of classical design in ongoing architectural practice is a key element of the workshops, as it exhibits how classical design remains a vibrant tradition immediately relevant to the current-day practice of architecture.
Following the professional presentations, students turned to their sketchbooks, as instructors Michael Mesko and Matthew Hayes led the students through a series of guided drawings in which they honed their understanding of the Tuscan order and its proportional relationships. Through these exercises, with the help of the ICAA’s classical primer, students were able to put these core classical principles into action. ICAA TAs Austin Wilson, Connor Bingham, and Jacques Levet were on hand to engage the students in discussions about their work and assist them with questions along the way.
Friday’s deep exploration of the Tuscan order was further put to use during Saturday’s session, as Martin Burns first presented to the group on using knowledge about the proportional relationships of classical design to draw in situ. After showing some of his own on-site drawings and walking the students through the process of measured drawing, the undergraduates and professionals took to MSU’s campus and applied the lessons of the previous sessions to drawings of campus buildings. As the students began to sketch from the buildings on MSU’s Drill Field, they brought the classroom principles to life while gaining a nuanced understanding of the application of classical design in buildings they walk past every day.
To conclude the workshop, the participants shared their work and reflections on the drawing process, demonstrating their new knowledge of classical design, its precedents, and the multitude of its applications in the modern world. Thanks to their great efforts and willingness to ask questions, along with the expertise of the instructors, their thoughtful work reflects the success of the workshop. Through the workshop’s valuable professional presentations and drawing both inside and outside of the classroom, students walked away inspired by the classical design that surrounds them and capable of bringing those concepts to enrich their own future work.
The ICAA would like to thank Dan and Gemma Camp for their generous sponsorship of the Workshop in Classical Architectural Design at Mississippi State University.
The ICAA's Workshops in Classical Architecture are generously funded by The Benton Family Foundation.