LSU Art & Design Students Work to Redevelop Downtown McComb


While many LSU students spent the month of May regrouping from the spring semester and gearing up for summer, a group of students from the College of Art & Design were busy working in McComb, Miss., 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, or OCDD, and the McComb Main Street Association, a preservation organization that seeks to invigorate and revitalize the downtown area.  

Fifteen students from the LSU Schools of Architecture and Landscape Architecture and the LSU Department of Interior Design worked on the project, concentrating on specific buildings and a four-block length of Railroad Boulevard in the city’s “Depot District.”

“What the students lacked in real-world experience, they made up for with their enthusiasm, creativeness and diligence,” said 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 director Marsha Cuddeback and LSU School of Architecture Professor 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 Lions Club in downtown McComb. The final exhibit for the community was housed at the McComb Sports Park.

The group also discussed with McComb Mayor Zachary Patterson collaborating on future projects that would focus on sustainable community planning.

“The clients really enjoyed the experience and came away with some excellent ideas,” Cox said. “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.

Students involved with the project said they enjoyed the experience and learned first-hand how to collaborate with government officials on community redesign efforts.

 “I’m still surprised at how much work we were able to get done in two and a half weeks,” said Erin Truax, an undergraduate student in the School of Architecture. “I think we’ve really brought a sense of pride to the McComb community.”

“This is the first project I’ve worked on with actual clients, so the learning has been a great experience,” said School of Architecture graduate student Marcelle Watson Boudreaux.

“This experience has impacted me by changing my opinion of architecture as a career,” said Sarah Clement, an undergraduate student in the School of Architecture. “By doing projects that significantly impact a place in the way we have, I’ve begun to redevelop a passion for design.”

The partnership proved so beneficial for both sides that Cuddeback suggested doing an intercession course with students during the month of May. She said McComb civic leaders were 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 & Design through the Office of Community Design and Development,” Cuddeback said. “We look forward to a continued partnership with the preservation communities in McComb and elsewhere in the region.”

To learn more about the LSU College of Art & Design and the Office of Community Design and Development, visit or contact Stephanie Riegel at 225-505-8997.


Aaron E Looney | Writer | Office of Communications & University Relations
June 2009