MSU seniors receive prestigious architecture travel awards

Nada Abdel-Aziz draws at her desk in Giles Hall
Nada Abdel-Aziz (Photo by Megan Bean)

A Mississippi State senior architecture student will experience the trip of a lifetime and learn more about her field of study with help from a $20,000 Aydelott Travel Award.

Due to the COVID-19 public health crisis, the Aydelott Foundation has granted a deferral for this year’s Travel Award winners, who include MSU’s Nada Abdel-Aziz of Greenwood. She is the fifth MSU recipient since the regional endowed award was established in 2016.

“We are so pleased that Nada will be able to fulfill her planned field research, and that we will be able to have a robust collection of stellar students around the world deepening their understanding of architecture and its service to our human experience,” said College of Architecture, Art and Design Dean Angi Elsea Bourgeois.

Abdel-Aziz plans to visit some of the world’s most renowned buildings in Sweden, Egypt, Italy and Japan. Her itinerary includes studies of architects Erik Gunner Asplund’s and Sigurd Lewerentz’s Woodland Cemetery in Stockholm, Sweden; Hassan Fathy’s New Gourna Village in Luxor, Egypt; Carlo Scarpa’s Castelvecchio Museum in Verona, Italy; and Tadao Ando’s Water Temple in Hyogo, Japan.

The $2.4 million endowment—established by late Memphis architect Alfred Lewis Aydelott and his wife Hope Galloway Aydelott—provides an award each year to four architecture students currently enrolled in the professional architecture degree programs at Mississippi State as well as the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville; Auburn University; and the University of Tennessee.

John Spraberry sits in the amphitheater area outside of Giles Hall
John Spraberry

Additionally, MSU senior John D. Spraberry of Clarksville, Tennessee, is receiving a $5,000 Trussell Travel Award to support his research on how urban riverfronts might be used for flood mitigation. Spraberry plans to look specifically at three buildings—Silodam by MVRDV in Amsterdam, the Netherlands; the Central Market Complex by Jože Plečnik in Ljubljana, Slovenia; and Niederhafen Promenade by Zaha Hadid Architects in Hamburg, Germany.

The MSU Trussell Travel Award is funded by MSU alumnus Ted T. Porter, principal of Ted Porter Architecture in New York City.

Abdel-Aziz will focus her research on how architecture can reveal and amplify the spirit of a place.

“I chose this topic on the belief that architecture should tell local and regional narratives, acting as a mirror for citizens to see themselves and their place, not just global ideas,” she said. “These four buildings address place through landscape, mythology, regional references, history and the spirit of the present.”

After her travels, Abdel-Aziz will work with her faculty advisor Associate Professor Hans Herrmann to compile her research and observations into a report to be judged against fellow Aydelott Travel Award recipients from other universities. One student will receive the Aydelott Prize and an additional $5,000.

Abdel-Aziz also looks forward to serving as a featured speaker for the MSU School of Architecture’s Harrison Lecture Series and curating an exhibition of her work in the Charlotte and Richard McNeel Gallery at Giles Hall.

“I am excited to get to see architecture masterpieces in person and to see the beautiful cities they’re found in,” she said. “Plus, I get to study these buildings through drawing, photography and writing and then share what I learned with my friends and colleagues in Giles and at the university.” 

MSU School of Architecture Professor and Interim Director Jassen Callender said he enjoyed reviewing this year’s Aydelott Travel Award applications from MSU students.

“In total, the proposals evidenced a wide array of interests amongst our student body and striking abilities to convey those interests in words,” he said. “Despite this high overall level of development, the committee was unanimous in its selection.”

“Nada Abdel-Aziz’s proposal to understand how great architecture responds to place by careful, in-person drawing of four exemplary buildings in their contexts is ambitious,” Callender said. “This project will take Nada to various parts of the world eventually and, we assume, mark the beginning of an extraordinary career with a focus on place.”

For more information about the Aydelott and Trussell Travel Awards and other fellowships in MSU’s School of Architecture, visit www.caad.msstate.edu/current-students/architecture/fellowships-awards.

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at www.msstate.edu.

Read the story in the Mississippi Business Journal.