A fourth-year architecture major at Mississippi State working to help others by combining passions for design and architecture is seeing his efforts recognized.
Larry R. Travis Jr. of Tougaloo recently took first place in the 2014 Gensler Diversity Scholarship Competition for his design of a Washington, D.C., library.
The academic award will be used for Travis' final year of study in the university's five-year architecture degree program. He also is receiving a paid summer internship at a Gensler regional office, where he will be paired with a professional mentor who may serve as a resource during both the internship and his senior year at MSU.
The son of Edna and Larry Travis Sr. and a 2010 graduate of Murrah High School in Jackson, Travis said he has always had a desire to help and create things for others.
"Meditational Gardens Library," Travis' project for the competition, was created during the fall semester while he was participating in an MSU School of Architecture exchange program with the Washington-Alexandria Architecture Center in Alexandria, Va.
"I have developed a philosophy that architecture is about a collection of people and that we are responsible for creating our society's lasting artifacts," he said.
Travis said he works to solve design problems by carefully listening to client needs and doing extensive research before starting a project. "I tried to rethink what people need in a library and create a project that adapts to our current technological needs," he said of his competition entry.
He also focused on the experiential qualities of the building and included spaces that encourage relaxation, tranquility and community. "Architecture is not just about designing the building; it's about designing the experience," he observed.
His project was among those making it to the finalist portion of the competition in January. At that point, he submitted a video that showcased his overall design philosophy, as well as how he would fit into Gensler, one of the world's largest architecture firms.
To produce the video, Travis worked with staff members at the University Television Center, especially video program manager David Garraway and student worker Emily Damm, a sophomore communication and mathematics double-major. Damm is the daughter of Robert and Laura Damm of Starkville.
Travis praised the television center--which he said had done "a great job, quickly"--and the professional guidance of veteran architecture professor Rachel McCann and school director Michael Berk, who also holds the F.L. Crane Endowed Professorship.
"Being a student in MSU's architecture program also really prepared me for this competition and my future career by giving me the tools and critical knowledge to be able to effectively create solutions to architecture design problems," Travis said.
He added that winning the scholarship "gives me the confidence to continue my educational dreams in hopes of being successful in the industry and making the lives of others better through inspirational design."