Practicing ArchitecturePracticing Architecture
Founded in 1979, the Carl Small Town Center (CSTC) is a nonprofit organization within the College of Architecture, Art, and Design at Mississippi State University. The CSTC works to revitalize and preserve small towns throughout the state.
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BB King Museum and Adult Literacy
Students gain hands-on experience in regional planning; development of sustainable communities; collaboration with elected officials and local, state, and national partners; and historic preservation. In addition, the center hosts education and outreach programs, including a “Design for Elected Officials” seminar that urges elected officials to promote good design in their communities.
Cari Varner, assistant director of the CSTC, notes that the center has “30 years of experience working with the people of Mississippi, as well as familiarity with best practices nationwide.” One of the center’s strengths, according to Varner, is its ability “to look holistically at the problems of small towns to find answers.” Students and faculty are committed to improving the quality of life and, hence, economic development by renewing and improving the physical environment of small towns. Chris Estill, a fourth-year architecture student who has worked at the CSTC for three years, values the opportunities he has had to “work directly with many community leaders and grass-roots organizations. The Carl Small Town Center is a firm with a learning environment that not only provides a wonderful service to its clients but also to the people that work there. It is truly rewarding to see a project that you worked on from start to finish become part of the built environment.”
Projects include development of architectural design guidelines for historic neighborhoods in Tupelo, a feasibility study and design of the BB King Museum and Adult Literacy Center, design and construction of an outdoor classroom for a high school, and revitalization of a neighborhood pool. A project to develop plans for a bike trail and other pedestrian amenities in Starkville was included in a National Building Museum exhibition titled Green Community.
The mission of the center is to
• Promote good design and planning for small towns
• Promote regional planning and cooperation between communities
• Encourage the development of public space and life within towns and communities
• Promote sustainable development
• Influence public policy on the built environment
• Provide towns and communities with an active resource center for contemporary small
town design issues
• Promote collaboration among communities, students, and faculty