Brandon Amphitheater to welcome big acts after slowing of COVID-19

“The idea of creating a substantial amphitheater to serve the Jackson metro area seemed to check all the boxes (for what Brandon had envisioned from the beginning),” said lead architect and Brandon resident Jamie Wier of Wier Boerner Allin Architecture.

Co-Lin unveils plan for performing arts, athletic arena

WBA Meet the Team: David Ford

Despite the fact that his high school aptitude test said he should be a band teacher, David Ford has enjoyed a successful career in architecture at both large and small firms in Mississippi. His career highlights have consisted of a project in Japan, a New York house with Sambo Mockbee, and many in between. David is always hungry to learn new skills to enhance his craft and is excited to be a part of a dynamic workplace. When he’s not sharpening his talents, you can find him in the kitchen trying his hand at sous vide, smoking meats, making pasta, or mixing cocktails for his friends.

When did you become interested in architecture/interior design? 

Architecture found me after my first year of college. I had a campus tour at MSU and thought that architecture looked like fun.

What’s your favorite piece of architecture? 

I like the spaces in between. The streets, sidewalks, and subways in cities are my favorite “built” spaces.

Tell us about your favorite project and why it is special to you. 

The US Pavilion at the 2005 World Expo. Working on a project and traveling to Japan was an awesome experience for a 30-something from the deep south.

If you had to listen to one song for the rest of your life, what would it be? 

Could never be a single song, but I could listen to Beaucoup Fish by Underworld a lot and it’s never grown old on me.

If you could swap places with anyone for a day, who would it be? 

The guy who cuts the grass at the airport…air-conditioned mower, back and forth, repeat.

How do you take your coffee? 

Splash of cream

Who is your favorite architect? 

Sambo Mockbee, I got to work with him for a couple of years before he died and he was a teacher, artist, then an architect.

What is your dream travel destination? 

Anywhere warm and preferably with an ocean view

Tennessee Tech football announces plans for upgraded facilities ahead of 100th season

Tennessee Tech announced plans to upgrade its football facilities ahead of its 100th season in 2022. 

The cost for the project is $15 million  and it will come from private donors. A portion of the funds has already been raised by the FCS school in Cookeville. 

Phase 1 of the plan is to build a new football operations center. The 40,000-square-foot facility will have a locker room, a team meeting room, position groups meeting rooms and offices for coaches. 

The second phase calls for a $30 million renovation to Tucker Stadium. School president Phil Oldham will seek approval from the board of trustees. 

The new center will also serve as the primary sports medicine and athletic training facility for all of Tennessee Tech’s 14 sports. 

“Recruiting is tremendously important to a successful program,” said Tech football coach Dewayne Alexander.  “Building this first-class Football Operations Center will show prospective student-athletes and their families how committed we are to them and to winning.  It will give us a wonderful opportunity to attract top talent to the Golden Eagle football program and to develop them to their full potential once we get them here.”

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Park Place Christian Academy held a Groundbreaking Ceremony for Phase Two of its Athletic Fields on the southern part of its campus in Pearl. Pictured left to right: PPCA School Board Trustees Terry Sensing, Jessica Weems, School Board Vice-Chairperson Renee Holm, School Board Chairman Dr. Darren Scoggin, Jason Stewart of Stewart Project Management, former PPCA Head of School and Assistant Superintendent of Madison County Schools Ted Poore, PPCA Head of School Jason Cook, Park Place Baptist Church Senior Pastor Dr. Keith Grubbs, Bud McGehee of Southern Rock LLC, former PPCA School Board Chairperson Jan Miller, Jonathan Johnson of Pickering Engineering, Jamie Wier of WBA Architects, City of Pearl Alderman District 1 Sammy Williams, and John McHenry, City of Pearl Alderman at-large.

By Robert Wilson

Park Place Christian Academy’s dream of having its own athletic facilities turned into reality when the private school in Rankin County held a groundbreaking ceremony on Oct. 27.

Park Place sophomore football and baseball player Parker Bray is just one of the many Park Place athletes who is looking forward to this dream:

“One thing that will change by having the fields is being able to walk out of class and straight onto your field for your practice or game. This is going to be awesome, not having to take a bus everywhere.”

For years, Park Place athletes and coaches didn’t have a home, they bussed to Pearl’s old field for football, Pearl’s old gym for basketball, Mississippi College in Clinton for baseball and Shiloh Park in Brandon for softball. 

Park Place head of school Jason Cook emceed the ceremony held at on the school’s campus where the 23 acres have been purchased for the athletic complex.

“The new addition of athletic fields will greatly enhance our students’ experience,” Cook said. “Being able to play on our own property will be a great opportunity to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the visiting teams and their fans as they play our PPCA Crusader athletes.”

Columbia Wildcats Honor Walter Payton with Hellas’ Field of Dreams

Central beam raised for renovation project along Fondren strip

WBA Meet the Team: Tyler Malouf

Tyler Malouf joined the WBA team in December 2020 as a Project Manager in our Jackson office. Malouf joined the firm after six years at firms in Atlanta, Georgia. She is an Alabama native and graduate of Auburn University’s School of Architecture.

When/How did you become interested in Architecture?

I fully credit my art teacher during my senior year of high school. While trying to figure out where and what to major in, she suggested Architecture because of my love to create. I quickly applied and got accepted to Auburn University’s architecture school thereafter and am always thankful for her guidance and suggestion.

Tell us about your favorite project and why it is special to you.

If you mean projects that I have designed, I haven’t lived in Jackson long enough for that to happen here. A project that I am really looking forward to working on is the new Mississippi Forestry Association headquarters that will be built here in Jackson. I come from a family rooted in the timber and lumber business, so I grew up surrounded with all aspects of forestry- including a saw mill in my backyard. So, to be able to design a building with the goal to use primarily all wood products is a dream project, yet feels natural to me.

What inspires you both professionally and personally?

Being an integral part of the built environment by having a part in creating it excites me daily. Seeing the process of a 2D drawing come to life and knowing that I have (hopefully) helped create a better place keeps me inspired both professionally and personally. It never gets old thinking “Hey! I helped build that, and I am proud of it!”

Favorite podcast, book, or film?

Favorites are hard for me, but any podcast about true crime. Any film with Robin Williams. Currently really into any book set during the WW2 era. I just finished The Nightingale by Kristen Hannah and would say it is my current favorite, until the next one…

Do you have any hidden talents?

Having completed my architectural thesis at Rural Studio and getting to build the project my team and I designed, I learned how to complete electrical, plumbing, tile and wood work. I own more power tools than my husband (sorry, George).

What is your favorite meal?

I have had some great meals in some amazing restaurants in my life,  but I would say my most favorite ones tend to be a home cooked recipe shared with my family and a bottle of wine or two. I married into a Lebanese family, and thankfully love the food- so cooking Lebanese family recipes have been really fun.

When you need inspiration, where do you turn?

Art. I like to scroll the internet and “shop” for art, most of what I cannot afford. Regardless if I can or not,  seeing what other artists create gives my right side of the brain a spark when it needs it.

Bringing Back the Block in Fondren

By Wilson Stribling | 5/20/2021

JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) – A small strip of businesses anchored by a one-screen movie theater has sat at the heart of Jackson’s Fondren neighborhood since the late 1930s.

The theater has been closed for years, and there have been many attempts to bring it and its surroundings back to life, but nothing has materialized.

Until now.

“I think Fondren is the coolest neighborhood in the biggest city in the state,” says Robert St. John, the famed chef and restaurateur who has been busy cooking up success and writing books in Hattiesburg for years.

But the prospect of reviving the long-stalled effort to re-imagine the strip on North State Street lured him to the capital.

“I’d love to be a part of that,” he thought, “so it was a pretty easy decision once I hopped in, and we’ve been having fun creating this thing ever since.”

What he has created along with developers Jason Watkins and David Pharr is a complex of multiple businesses they hope will be just what people are looking for as they emerge from pandemic hibernation.

The Capri theater, known as the Pix until 1963, sits in the center of the project. It’s now in the midst of a top-to-bottom rebuild.

“We’re doing a historical renovation on the outside so we stay true to the neighborhood and the vibe of the neighborhood, but on the inside, we’re doing a 21st-century movie theater,” St. John says. “We’ll have reclining seats, a full bar, and appetizers. You’ll be able to order from your seat. We’ll also have candy and popcorn and all the regular stuff.”

St. John says the theater will feature new and classic films, “so the people that have all these great memories of coming to the Capri when they were a kid in the ’50s and the ’60s and the ’70s — we’ll be showing some of those movies on occasion.”

The theater’s screen will be larger than the one it replaces, and it will be retractable to reveal a small stage behind it. The stage can be used to host seminars and conferences.

Next to the Capri, in the old Seabrook building, will be a restaurant with a menu reminiscent of St. John’s Crescent City Grill in Hattiesburg. It will be called Highball Lanes, because it will also have a bowling alley.

“When you drive by on North State Street, it looks like, where are they going to put that?” St. John says. “But I think what is deceiving is there is a lot of land available to us here that David and Jason own that is part of this project, and so there’s plenty of land to go back to build a ten-lane bowling alley, and also to add a lot of parking.”

Once completed, Highball Lanes will be the only bowling alley within the Jackson city limits.

Next door, the developers are building what St. John describes as an immersive escape: a highly-themed tiki bar.

“It’s small — 27 seats — but it is in true Polynesian style, a real escape. Handcrafted cocktails and all the tiki classics will be there,” he says.

In the next phase, St. John plans to turn the former Butterfly Yoga, which was originally a gas station, into an Ed’s Burger Joint. It will be much like the one in Hattiesburg but with a rooftop bar overlooking North State and Duling streets.

“It’s an entertainment complex,” St. John says. “From the Ed’s Burger Joint to the Capri movie theater to Highball Lanes with a restaurant and bar,” to the tiki bar, which will be called the Pearl.

Watkins says that combination of offerings, rather than just a modernized theater, is what’s so appealing.

“We could put a movie theater in that was ten screens, but that would be essentially all you could do here,” Watkins says. “We just didn’t think that was enough for what Fondren really needed and for what we wanted to see here.”

St. John, whose only previous development in Jackson was the popular Rodeo’s country-and-western dance bar in the 1990s, says he was drawn to the Fondren project by Watkins and Pharr’s enthusiasm. The project’s architect, Wier Boerner Allin Architects of Jackson, put them together.

“It’s a big expense,” St. John says of the $13 million project. “It’s a big project, but I think it’s a no-brainer. I think people want this. I think it’s needed. All the research we’ve done proves that out. And I’m excited to be a part of it.”

St. John says they anticipate hiring about 150 people initially. They hope to have the Capri, Highball Lanes and the Pearl open by this fall. Ed’s Burger Joint would follow in early 2022.

To read the full article click here.

Mississippi Children’s Museum – Meridian hosts ribbon cutting ahead of grand opening

By WJTV | 3/25/21

The Mississippi Children’s Museum – Meridian hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony at its location on 22nd Avenue on Thursday. The grand opening of the museum will be on Saturday, March 27.

“When we set out on this journey six years ago, we had big dreams, but I think it’s safe to say that we have exceeded those dreams. The collective power of believing that we can change our community is like a flame that grows brighter and brighter as we join together,” said Liz Wilson, the executive director of MCM-Meridian.

The museum includes the nation’s first permanent Goodnight Moon exhibit, a two-story brainiac climber, a library inspired by the Academy Award-winning short film and children’s book, The Fantastic Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore by William Joyce, a WonderBox tinkering lab, and will soon include a whimsical 25,000 square foot garden inspired by local writer and illustrator, Edgar Parker.

Museum members will have the opportunity to visit the museum on Friday, March 26 and the museum will open to the public on Saturday, March 27 from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. (closed between 12 – 1 p.m. for cleaning). Adults must be accompanied by a child. Tickets must be purchased in advance to reserve your visit.

In addition to daily admission, MCM-Meridian offers annual memberships, birthday parties and facility rentals, traveling exhibits and programs, field trips, professional development, and will soon offer seasonal camps.

To read the full article click here.

WBA Meet the Team: Dennis Daniels

Dennis Daniels joined the WBA team back in September as a Project Manager and Architect in our Nashville office. He was already familiar with the WBA family because he was an intern at WBA from 2011-2012. Dennis is a graduate of Mississippi State University’s School of Architecture earned a master’s in architecture from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

When did you become interested in architecture?

Architecture has interested me as far back as I can remember. My grandfather was an architect and I remember watching him draw and talk about why and how things were built a certain way. Growing up my dad, brother, and I always had some type of project going on. It was an all- hands-on-deck kind of thing. I love working hard and seeing the fruits of the labor.

Tell us about your favorite project and why it’s special.

Architecture is most meaningful for me when it can tell a story. The most memorable project would be the time I worked on the restoration of the historic New London Harbor Lighthouse constructed in 1802. It was a challenge to work on and it has a significant history, but for me most importantly the history including the day I proposed to my wife. 

How have you grown professionally since becoming a member of the WBA team?

I hope I have grown. I know I’ve been able to put into action what I have learned as an owner and recognizing the need of the team. I’m growing with the client in every decision and hope to maintain and exceed expectations. I hope to grow to be a better listener and leader.

What inspires you both professionally and personally?

I gain inspiration from learning and teaching others. It is exciting to see how much energy is created when you put people together with common goals in the same place. It’s inspiring to be part of a community that thinks critically and works together. 

How do you spend your free time?

I spend most of my free time parenting my 2-year-old son. We like to make up silly songs and games. I’ve enjoyed working within my hands—whether that is pulling weeds in the garden or on projects around the house. Recently, I have been able to enjoy getting up early and working out with a group of guys as a part of F3 (Fitness| Fellowship| Faith).  

What does your ideal Nashville day look like?

I love getting up and feeling productive first thing. I love exploring the area with the family—playing in the park, exploring the greenway and creek in the neighborhood, or on a rainy day walking the aisles of Lowes. I love taking an afternoon drive to a place I’ve never gone to with the window down and listening to music and singing along. On the way home, I always stop by and grab an ice cream. To end the day, let’s grill in the back yard watching the neighborhood kids play together, then watching the day turn to dusk. We like to light a fire at night and eat s’mores! If there is music and dancing too, I’m game. That sounds like a pretty great day.  

Favorite podcast, book, or film?

My favorite podcast is The Anthropocene Review. I just listened to an episode: Episode 9 “Pennies and Piggly Wiggly” – 1.5 stars to pennies! 2.5 starts to Piggly Wiggly! My favorite film is Patch Adams! “You treat a disease, you win you lose. You treat a person, I guarantee you will win. No matter the outcome.” My favorite book is Thinking Architecture by Peter Zumthor. “Details, when they are successful, are not mere decoration. They do not distract or entertain. They lead to an understanding of the whole of which they are an inherent part.”

Mississippi Children’s Museum-Meridian opening March 27

By The Associated Press | 3/14/21

MERIDIAN, Miss. — The Mississippi Children’s Museum-Meridian will open later this month, culminating years of planning and construction.

“I’m excited and anxious for the community to see how all of their hard work and commitment and support has made this magical space a reality,” Liz Wilson, the museum’s executive director, told The Meridian Star.

Visitors will need to reserve a timed ticket for opening day, March 27. General admission is $10 per person.

The museum was the idea of three mothers: Wilson, Kimberly Denison and Kim Bowers, the newspaper reported. In 2015, they sought advice from the Mississippi Children’s Museum in Jackson about starting a children’s museum in Meridian.

The Jackson museum challenged the three women to raise $25,000 in seed money. They doubled that amount in less than a month, according to MCM-Meridian’s website.

A feasibility study showed support for a children’s museum in Meridian. In 2016, the Mississippi Children’s Museum’s board of directors voted unanimously to move ahead with the project.

Construction began in fall 2019.

The museum has indoor and outdoor exhibits. Some are inspired by the Meridian area, such as a theatre that resembles a former opera house now known as the Riley Center and a water table that is modeled after Dunn’s Falls and the Chunky River.

The museum’s hours will be 9 a.m.-noon and 1-5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays; and 1-6 p.m. Sundays.

The Associated Press

To read the full article click here.

Downtown Meridian is experiencing a transformation

By Nicholas Brooks | 3/5/2021

MERIDIAN, Miss. (WTOK) – Phase 1 of a project designed to make the gateway to the Queen City more attractive will begin this summer.

Drivers and pedestrians using Sela Ward Parkway will be able to enjoy a newly paved road, new sidewalks, and new street lights when the multi-million dollar enhancement project is finished.

This project ties in with other downtown revitalization and enhancement projects like The MAX, the Threefoot Building, the new Annex Building and the Mississippi Children’s Museum Meridian Branch.

Starting March 8th, one northbound lane on Sela Ward Parkway from E street to C street will be closed while crews finish construction on the children’s museum.

“We have totally transformed a lot of things in Meridian. The things we have done to attract people to come here and enjoy is going to put Meridian on the map,” said Mayor Percy Bland.

“You can look for some traffic light upgrades. Some of that will be down as part of the Sela Ward Parkway. There are signals around town that will also be upgraded as part of the paving bond. Those things will be designed and bid as we move throughout the summer months,” said Meridian Public Works Director Hugh Smith.

Funding for the $3.2 million projects will come from bond issues, state grants, and taxpayer money

Copyright 2021 WTOK. All rights reserved.

To read the full article click here.

New children’s museum to feature exhibits inspired by Meridian

By Anne Snabes | 2/27/2021

The Mississippi Children’s Museum-Meridian is preparing to open this spring.

The museum’s executive director, Liz Wilson, said in late January that contractors were installing exhibits in the museum. Additionally, they were finishing the museum’s exterior facade and the punch list for the inside of the building. They were also working on a 25,000 square foot outdoor exhibit called “My Fantastical Backyard.”

Construction began on the museum in fall 2019. Wilson expects the destination to open in March or April 2021.

She hopes that the museum will bring joy to many people.

“When we open our doors and they get to come visit for the first time,” she said, “I think it’s going to be unlike anything so many have ever seen.”

She said that “we need something to celebrate” now.

“It’s been a tough, tough road for our entire community and so many right now,” Wilson said.

The museum will feature various exhibits, including a theater that resembles the Riley Center and a library inspired by the book and short film “The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore.”

By early February, contractors had fully installed the museum’s water table — which is modeled after Dunn’s Falls and the Chunky River — and completed the facades of several exhibits. Wilson expected the exhibits to be installed by the end of February.

She said she and her colleagues have known the design plans for the exhibits for more than a year.

“We have been looking at all of these exhibits for over a year on paper,” she said. “We thought we could conceptualize what they were going to be and we thought they were going to be magical and spectacular, but not until you actually see them going up are you really able to comprehend the scale and the caliber and the detail of all of it,” she said. “You really feel like you’re stepping into a entirely new world.”

Mississippi Children’s Museum-Meridian bought exhibit items from companies in different parts of the country, including structures that children can climb on from Denton, Texas, and a water table from Columbus, Ohio.

Visitors will be able to climb inside a two-story exhibit that will look like a brain and inside a multi-storied exhibit called “Wings of Wonder,” which will have a jet on its upper surface.

The museum also features an outdoor exhibit experience. The exhibit, called “My Fantastical Backyard,” will celebrate children’s book author and illustrator Edgar Parker, who is from

Meridian. The outdoor experience will have several elements, such as an edible garden and a “wandering woods” where children can travel through tunnels and pathways.

The pandemic will likely not be over when the museum opens.

“We will have some really proven and strong operating procedures to ensure safety,” Wilson said in December.

She said the museum will be modeling its COVID-19 operating procedures after those carried out by the Mississippi Children’s Museum in Jackson.

She said she and her colleagues hope that the museum will be able to follow its intended operational model when it opens, but they are prepared to pivot and serve the community in a different way, if circumstances change.

“We are prepared to pivot and serve the community however the community needs us to,” she said.

To read the full article click here.


By Nell Luter Floyd | 01/27/2021

Construction fencing surrounds the front of what was once the Capri Theatre, Seabrook Paint Company and James Patterson Photography in Jackson’s Fondren Business District.

Signage still adorns the front window of the gallery, a poster advertising paint hangs in the front window of what was the Seabrook store and the marquee at the Capri simply reads “coming soon.”

While nothing is happening on the outside, demolition began late last year on the interiors of the three buildings.

That’s the first step in a $13-million project to bring to life an entertainment venue that will return the Capri to its life as a movie theater, transform the former paint store into a restaurant with A full-service bar plus 10-lane bowling alley and turn the former gallery into a tiki bar. 

David Pharr, a member of the development team, said the interiors of the three buildings had much to remove.

“It’s not surprising but we found a little bit of asbestos in the paint store and that’s been remediated,” he said. “We’ve taken the back wall off the paint store so we can  add the bowling lanes.”

The Capri, High Ball Lanes restaurant, bar and bowling alley and The Pearl Tiki Bar are expected to open for business by the end of the year, he said. Parking for the businesses will be located behind them.

Ed’s Burger Joint, which will expand the footprint of the building most recently occupied by Butterfly Yoga and include a rooftop bar, is part of the same development but construction will not begin until the second phase of the project.

What makes the Fondren Strip development unique is that it will be an entertainment destination with multiple activities, Pharr said, noting options where friends and family can gather as well as choices for fun date nights.

The exteriors of the buildings after renovation will have a vintage vibe similar to how they appeared when the movie, “The Help,” was filmed in Fondren. Ed’s will take on the look of a vintage Texaco station, a throwback to what it once was.

Pharr said he and Jason Watkins, who compose the Pix Co., have worked to transform Fondren for the “better part of a decade.” They acquired the Capri in 2012 and made improvements to the inside so it could serve as the site of Jackson’s first TEDx program in 2014.

“Along the way, Jason and I did the work to get the entire downtown Fondren district on the National Register of Historic Places, which allowed us to historic tax credits to finance construction,” he said.

 Wier Boerner Allin Architecture, Cox & Shackelford and Hattiesburg restauranteur St. John are members of the development team along with Pharr and Watkins. AnderCorp. is the contractor for the project.

St. John expects Ed’s Burger Joint to open in the spring of 2022.  Construction on Ed’s should begin before the first phase of the entertainment district is completed, he said.

Announced in October 2019, the Fondren Strip project got put on hold with the onset of COVID-19, St. John said. “I think that was the right move,” he said.

When in full operation, the Capri, High Ball Lanes, The Pearl and Ed’s are expected to employ about 125 people and operate two shifts every day of the week, said St. John, who will be the managing partner responsible for the operations of it all.

Ed’s will serve the same menu of burgers and outrageous milkshakes that it’s known for in Hattiesburg, St. John said, and feature a rooftop bar where craft cocktails will be available.

“Our biggest fans are people who come from the Jackson area,” he said. “We get a lot of Jackson people on their way to Florida or in Hattiesburg for sporting events.”

Movie patrons at the Capri will have access to both a concession stand as well as a food and drink services while they occupy reclining seats with tables between them. The Capri will use a ticketing system so moviegoers to select their seats online in advance or at the door.

Servers will be able to move between the Capri, High Ball Lanes and The Pearl.

High Ball Lanes will serve a menu inspired by St. John’s Crescent City Grill in Hattiesburg, while small plates with a Polynesian bent will be the attraction at The Pearl.

“Tiki Bars are an interesting concept,” St. John said. “They are such an escape.”

Pharr said construction on the entertainment district will revitalize one of the last underdeveloped commercial parcels in the Fondren Business District. “It’s going to enhance the existing restaurants and offer something new,” he said.

To read the full article click here.

Mississippi Children’s Museum of Meridian slated to open this spring

By WTOK | 1/26/2021

Work continues on the Mississippi Children’s Museum Meridian on 22nd Avenue. Fabricators have been on sight since January installing all of the exhibits in a state of the art museum designed especially for children.

“Our community has invested so generously in this resource and the dream is now coming to fruition,” said Liz Wilson, Executive Director of the MCM-Meridian. “Our motto is we take fun seriously. But there is a very serious component to fun as well.”

The facility will feature 10,000 square feet of interior exhibits and an additional 25,000 square foot outdoors exhibit experience. All of the exhibits are designed to be fun for kids, but also a learning experience.

“Often times people don’t realize how important play is for children,” said Clair Huff, Assistant Director of Education at MCM-Meridian. “That’s how our children really learn through play. Playing by themselves but cooperative play is important.”

The five exhibit galleries will focus on health and nutrition, literacy, along with science, technology, engineering and math — all incorporating the cultural arts of East Mississippi designed for area children to enjoy and help achieve their potential

“We want them to know that there are so many possibilities for their future,” added Huff. “That’s what is so important to me is that they’re going to have the opportunity to see, to experience, to explore and be curious. Just to be children.”

Ground was broken at the facility in October, 2019 and it’s slated to open sometime this spring.

To read the full article clickhere.


 By Columbian Progress | 1/6/2021

As cranes worked in the background, Columbia High School broke ground Monday morning on its new football stadium that is sure to be a crown jewel in Marion County. 

Columbia Superintendent Jason Harris likened the day to a “new birth,” comparing the groundbreaking to the student athletes who will get their start on the new field, much like how arguably the greatest running back in history, Walter Payton, did. 

“This stadium has served the community of Columbia and Columbia High School since the 1950s. However, grappling bleachers, broken concrete, worn-out restrooms and out-of-date concessions will give way to a new state-of-the-art stadium,” he said. “We’re excited to assemble a premier facility for our student athletes, their families and the community to enjoy for many years to come.”

The new Walter Payton Field at Gardner Stadium will feature new turf, a synthetic running track, a video board, an entry plaza featuring Walter Payton’s statue, reconstructed home and away bleachers, updated restroom facilities and much more. 

When Harris first toured the facilities three-and-a-half years ago in 2017, he said it was obvious to him the stadium was built in the ‘50s, sparking the desire and his vision to build something truly special. He considered remodeling, but it wasn’t financially feasible. The only logical choice was to start over and construct a new stadium, and in his very first superintendent evaluation he told the Columbia school board he wanted to build a stadium. 

The stadium is being funded through various routes. The district received a grant from the NFL that will cover more than $250,000 of the estimated $1 million cost of the new turf. There are also private donations that will go toward the estimated $6.2 million total, but Harris said all of the finances have not been finalized. 

The stadium will have a total capacity of about 3,500, with the home bleachers seating 2,500 and the away bleachers seating 1,000. There will be 550 yellow chair-back seats on the home side, as well as eight cabanas at the top that are already spoken for, according to Harris. Each cabana will seat 12 and will include catered food. 

Harris said the current target date is to have it completed by Aug. 6, with the home opener scheduled for Sept. 10 against Petal in Week 3 of the football season. That gives construction about a month of leeway to account for potential delays because of weather. 

“I’m just so excited for the community to have a facility that resembles the passion for Wildcat athletics. Not only Wildcat football, but we’ll be able to host band competitions, soccer, track — we haven’t had a regulation track in Marion County. This is bigger than just football,” Harris said. “Wildcat athletics are the heartbeat of Columbia. I’m just excited and really thrilled.”

Following the current demolition of the bleachers taking place, the visiting locker rooms will be renovated along with the concession stands, then the new bleachers will be installed. The turf will be the last aspect installed, which should take about a week. 

“This stadium, with us moving up to the 4A classification, will be one of the best ones, if not the best, in the state,” CHS head football coach Chip Bilderback said. “I expect to see an increase in participation by our student athletes that want to be able to use it. And with that, there’s going to be more kids we can reach as coaches, so that we can challenge them to be the very best versions of themselves.”

Bilderback added that Architect Jamie Wier’s design truly ties Columbia High’s past to where it’s trying to go in the future. He said there’s not a week that goes by when someone doesn’t ask to be let in to take a picture with the Walter Payton statute, and they want to see where “Sweetness” played. With Wier’s design moving the statute from no man’s land behind the end zone to the front entry plaza, it will be properly displayed for all to see it once they enter the stadium.  

Bilderback added the investment being made into this stadium is for the fourth-grade student gaining more interest in playing Columbia High football. 

“It’s going to inspire generations to come to be a part of this,” he said. 

CHS Principal Braxton Stowe said it’s a great opportunity for the students and community to see progress, and it gives them something else to be proud of. While the school’s participation is already very high, Stowe said the new facilities should make it increase even more and could allow the school to add even more sports. 

Eddie Payton said the new stadium will be the pinnacle of what a high school stadium in Mississippi should be, and the shining star of Mississippi will be in Columbia. He added that it being named after his brother means a lot to him. 

“(Walter) loved Columbia, and Columbia loved him,” he said. “As long as you have a facility like the one Jamie is going to construct here, your kids will be proud to run out on that field with Walter’s name and wear the blue and gold. People will come to see Walter’s field, but they will come to watch your kids, who are the next generation of Walter Paytons.”

Eddie added that to see the field where he and his brother scored their first touchdowns before starring in the NFL become a living monument for Walter shows the commitment and what the city can do when it works together. 

“You’re not going to get much better than that,” he said. 

When the architecture firm who designed the new stadium, Wier Boerner Allin Architecture, shared their artistic renderings of the stadium, it was shared on social media more than 40,000 times. 

Harris specifically thanked Wier, Business Manager Kim Rogers, Engineer Jeff Dungan and Eddie Payton. 

To read the full article click here.

Construction on Fondren movie theater, bowling alley underway

 By Anthony Warren | 12/14/2020

Construction is underway on a new development that promises to bring a bowling alley and movie theater to Fondren.

Crews on Monday were putting up a construction fence behind the historic Capri Theater, as contractors prepare to transform a portion of the Fondren Strip into a major entertainment destination.

The first phase of the $13 million project will include a new Capri Theatre, Highball Lanes bowling alley and restaurant, and The Pearl, a tiki bar.

Demolition behind the Fondren Strip should get under way Tuesday, to make way for the future expansion.

“We’re taking down a non-historic structure on the back of the Seabrook building and old photography studio. There were a couple of add-ons to the buildings and we’re removing those so we can build back and expand that space,” said developer and co-owner Jason Watkins.

Construction is expected to take 10 months, weather pending.

Businesses south of the photo studio and Seabrook were not impacted by the project.

“We have long wanted to create an entertainment destination for Fondren, making it even more of one than it already is,” he said.

Watkins said in addition to bringing in new entertainment options, the project is one way to revitalize the historic Capri Theatre, a long-defunct one-screen movie house that has been closed for years.

Plans are to turn the Capri into a multi-function theater that will show first-run movies and classics, as well as host stage shows, seminars and the like.

“Primarily it will be used to show films, but it does have a stage that will allow for performances,” Watkins said. “We will have periodic live performances, seminars and community events that will supplement what’s going on in terms of film.”

Next to the Capri will be Highball Lanes, a 10-lane bowling alley and restaurant, and next to it will be the Pearl.

The second phase will include the construction of Ed’s Burgers, a 1950s-style restaurant dreamed up by chef Robert St. John. Construction on it is “not far behind,” Watkins said. However, an exact start date had not been announced.

Plans were drawn up by Wier Boerner Allin Architects, also of Fondren. The project is being constructed by AnderCorp, a Gulfport-based firm with an office in Fondren.

The buildings feature an art deco style, similar to other construction of their era, Watkins said.

The Strip, which runs along North State Street in the Fondren Business District, was constructed in the 1930s and was one of the first suburban shopping centers in the state.

To read the full article clickhere.


Since joining the WBA team back in September, Amy Daniels has been an integral part of our Nashville office. Amy’s passion for art early in life eventually inspired her to pursue a career in architecture. She is a graduate of Mississippi State University’s School of Architecture and the Rhode Island School of Design, where she earned a master’s in interior architecture and adaptive reuse.

When did you become interested in architecture/interior design?

I didn’t really become interested in Architecture until I started Architecture School. I had always been passionate about art and I really enjoyed Physics in High School. It was suggested that I try Architecture as a major at Mississippi State and I fell in love with it right away.

How have you grown professionally since becoming a member of the WBA team?

Being in the Nashville office is exciting. We are growing and robustly engaging with the community to build relationships. We’re getting to know so many new industry partners and clients. I’ve grown professionally even in my short time here by having the courage and support to get out there and make WBA known in Nashville.

What inspires you both professionally and personally?

Learning and education inspire me. I have a high level of respect for educators and all that goes into making our education systems strong. I am a firm believer in Design Education and think that most people would benefit from more Design Thinking and art. The advancement of project-based learning in schools is inspiring for the future. I’m encouraged by the next generation and what they will do for our world.

How do you spend your free time?

I have a two-year-old so mostly I spend my free time parenting or trying to be a better parent. I read a lot of childhood development books and am interested in the development and psychology behind growing up. I also like to sew and craft, organize, and work on projects for our new home.

What does your ideal day look like?

My ideal day is spent traveling and exploring a new place. Preferably somewhere warm and sunny, and with good cocktails! It would also include a fantastic sunset view and a good playlist continually playing in the background, somewhat like a movie.

Do you prefer to listen to podcasts or music? What are your top recommendations?

If I’m working I’ll listen to instrumental music only; I love language and lyrics and find it very distracting while working. In the car, I like listening to podcasts. I’m a big fan of Walk In Love, Anthropocene Reviewed, and NPR Politics.

2020 AIA MS MCA Virtual Awards

2020 AIA Mississippi Awards Received

  • Firm of the Year
  • People’s Choice Award for Fondren North 6 project.
  • Merit Design Award for Fondren North 6 project.

New Mississippi Trade Mart opens

By Madison County Journal on 10/6/2020

JACKSON — The new Mississippi Trade Mart officially opened to the public with a building dedication and ceremonial ribbon cutting.

“This is an historic day for the state of Mississippi,” said  Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce Andy Gipson. “I am proud to unveil the new Mississippi Trade Mart and excited for the endless opportunities its expansive and state-of-the-art facilities will provide. I want to thank the entire Mississippi legislature for authorizing the $30 million funding to build the new Trade Mart and make improvements to the Mississippi Fairgrounds. I would also like to thank U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith, former Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant and Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves for their support in this endeavor.”

Miss Mississippi Mary Margaret Hyer acted as mistress of ceremonies and opened the dedication program with a rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Musical performances were provided by Music Director Slater Murphy of the Mississippi Baptist Convention and praise team leaders with New Horizon Baptist Church. Commissioner Gipson was joined by Dr. Kenny Digby, Director of the Christian Action Commission; Reverend David Tipton, Mississippi District Superintendent of United Pentecostal Church International; Bishop Ronnie Crudup, Senior Pastor of New Horizon Church International and Diocese Bishop for the Fellowship of International Churches; Bishop James Swanson of the Mississippi Conference of the United Methodist Church; and Bishop Joseph Kopacz of the Catholic Diocese of Jackson, who offered remarks and blessings.

Following the building dedication program, Commissioner Gipson and Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves provided remarks at the ribbon cutting ceremony. On behalf of her mother, U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith, Anna-Michael Smith also provided comments about the new Trade Mart. 

“Today is the culmination of a lot of hard work by a number of dedicated Mississippians, and we would not be here today without U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith, former Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce. I want to give a huge thanks to U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith for being such a passionate advocate and supporter of this project. I also want to thank her successor, Andy Gipson. Thank you, Commissioner Gipson, for seeing this incredible project through to completion and for your continued leadership in serving the agriculture community in the state of Mississippi,” said Governor Reeves.

The new Trade Mart on the Mississippi State Fairgrounds will serve as an economic boost for the state. Every year, the Trade Mart hosts more than 200,000 people at the nearly 80 events held. Attached to the Mississippi Coliseum, the new structure expands the functionality and flexibility of both facilities, making it more marketable for hosting a wide array of events. The new Mississippi Trade Mart is 110,000 square feet, and includes a lobby, a 2,500 square foot commercial kitchen, two cafes, a reception area, a “front porch” area and three massive trade halls. The trade halls can be configured to provide a seamless connection to the Coliseum’s arena floor, allowing for larger trade shows and events than ever before. The “front porch” area provides a large, covered space for exterior events and opens onto a new plaza that is shared with the Coliseum, which recently underwent a $2.2 million renovation.

“The features of the new Mississippi Trade Mart will expand business opportunities for the Fairgrounds and attract new, prospective events and activities for the public to enjoy,” said Michael Lasseter, Acting Director of the Mississippi State Fairgrounds Complex.

The new Mississippi Trade Mart was designed by Wier Boerner Allin Architecture, and Fountain Construction was the general contractor. Visit online for more information.

To read the full article click here.


by Northside Sun on 09/29/2020

Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce Andy Gipson will officially cut the ribbon at the new Mississippi Trade Mart on the State Fairgrounds on Thursday, October 1. A building dedication will take place at 8:30 a.m. in Exhibit Hall A. Following the dedication, there will be a ceremonial ribbon cutting at 10:00 a.m. in the foyer of the new Trade Mart. The public is invited to attend. 

Miss Mississippi Mary Margaret Hyer will open the building dedication program with a rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” followed by musical performances and remarks by local faith leaders. Following the dedication, Governor Tate Reeves and Commissioner Gipson will provide remarks at the ribbon cutting ceremony at 10:00 a.m.

The Mississippi State Fairgrounds attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors each year from across Mississippi and throughout the country and serves as one of the largest economic drivers in the City of Jackson. The new Trade Mart is attached to the Mississippi Coliseum, expanding the functionality and flexibility of both facilities. Approaching 110,000 square feet, the new facility includes a lobby, commercial-sized kitchen, two cafes, a reception area and three massive trade halls. The trade halls provide a large, covered space for exterior events such as the Mississippi State Fair. For large events, the Coliseum, which recently underwent a $2.2 million arena renovation, may be used as a connected fourth bay for the Trade Mart.

The Mississippi Legislature authorized $30 million to build the new Trade Mart and make improvements to the Mississippi Fairgrounds. The new Mississippi Trade Mart was designed by Wier Boerner Allin Architecture, and Fountain Construction was the general contractor.

To read the full article click here.

Commissioner Gipson hosts Grand Opening of new Mississippi Trade Mart

By Sarah Ulmer – October 1, 2020

Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce Andy Gipson officially cut the ribbon at the new Mississippi Trade Mart on the State Fairgrounds today.

At the ribbon cutting, Miss Mississippi Mary Margaret Hyer opened the building dedication program with a rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” followed by musical performances and remarks by local faith leaders. Following the dedication, Governor Tate Reeves and Commissioner Gipson provided remarks

“This is an historic day for the state of Mississippi,” said Commissioner Gipson. “I am proud to unveil the new Mississippi Trade Mart and excited for the endless opportunities its expansive and state-of-the-art facilities will provide. I want to thank the entire Mississippi legislature for authorizing the $30 million funding to build the new Trade Mart and make improvements to the Mississippi Fairgrounds. I would also like to thank U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith, former Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant and Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves for their support in this endeavor.”

The Mississippi State Fairgrounds attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors each year from across Mississippi and throughout the country and serves as one of the largest economic drivers in the City of Jackson. The new Trade Mart is attached to the Mississippi Coliseum, expanding the functionality and flexibility of both facilities. Approaching 110,000 square feet, the new facility includes a lobby, commercial-sized kitchen, two cafes, a reception area and three massive trade halls. The trade halls provide a large, covered space for exterior events such as the Mississippi State Fair. For large events, the Coliseum, which recently underwent a $2.2 million arena renovation, may be used as a connected fourth bay for the Trade Mart.

“Today is the culmination of a lot of hard work by a number of dedicated Mississippians, and we would not be here today without U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith, former Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce. I want to give a huge thanks to U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith for being such a passionate advocate and supporter of this project. I also want to thank her successor, Andy Gipson. Thank you, Commissioner Gipson, for seeing this incredible project through to completion and for your continued leadership in serving the agriculture community in the state of Mississippi,” said Governor Reeves.

The Mississippi Legislature authorized $30 million to build the new Trade Mart and make improvements to the Mississippi Fairgrounds. The new Mississippi Trade Mart was designed by Wier Boerner Allin Architecture, and Fountain Construction was the general contractor.

To read the full article click here.

MEET THE TEAM: Nico Forlenza

With over five years of experience at firms in Alabama, Tennessee, and Texas, Nico Forlenza officially joined the WBA team in May. He was initially drawn to WBA’s unique portfolio of architecture and interior design projects as well as the team of talented individuals he would soon be working alongside. 

When did you become interested in architecture/interior design?

I honestly more or less stumbled into architecture.  I always have had an interest in puzzles and problem solving and there’s a variety of different fields that revolve around that.  When it came time to choose a major I visited an architecture office as well as an engineering office and the architecture office seemed way more fun.  That’s how I ended up in architecture school and ultimately came to love this profession.

Tell us about your favorite project and why it is special to you.

I haven’t been at WBA too long so my favorite project I’ve worked on so far was at an old office.  We designed the corporate headquarters for LifeWay in downtown Nashville.  That project stood out to me because it was extremely thoughtful in the way it took cues from not only the neighborhood around it but also the people that would come to occupy the space.  It’s this people-centric approach to design which is very evident in WBA’s work and ultimately attracted me to the firm.

What does your ideal day look like?

An ideal day for me would be a regular college football gameday.  Getting to go back to campus, hanging out with all my old friends, and eating tailgate food on a crisp fall day is the best thing in the world.  

Favorite meal?

Instead of my favorite meal the best meal I’ve ever had was during my study abroad semester in Rome.  We took a day trip to Napoli, where pizza originated and found a little hole-in-the-wall pizzeria run by an older Italian couple that had an ancient-looking pizza oven carved into the side of the wall.  It was hands down the most amazing thing I’ve ever had.

If you could travel anywhere in the world during these COVID times, where would you go?

If I could travel anywhere during COVID it would be to Iceland.  It’s isolated but beautiful and I’ve always wanted to see the northern lights.

Current favorite TV series/book/podcast?

Currently, my wife and I have been working back through old seasons of Friday Night Lights.  It definitely still holds up.

Exclusive look inside the construction of Mississippi Children’s Museum

MERIDIAN, Miss. (WTOK) – Newscenter 11 got an exclusive look inside the construction of Meridian Children’s Museum.

Construction crews were on-site this weekend making way for the 20,000 square foot building. The museum Executive Director Liz Wilson gave us a tour of the facility. You can see that the building has some walls, windows, and a frame. Wilson said they are excited that the vision for meridian’s youth is making progress.

“It is hard to believe how far we have come and what our community has been able to accomplish. 5 years ago this was a dream and look where we are today. We’re marching forward. We can’t wait to have the exhibit walls up and moving on to the next thing. We can’t wait to open these doors as quickly as possible, the museum Executive Director Liz Wilson.

Wilson said the museum is expected to open in spring 2021.

To read the full article click here.

$30 million Mississippi Trade Mart building nears completion

By David Kenney| September 18, 2020

JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) – The state of Mississippi is preparing to open their new event space. The work is nearing completion on the new Mississippi Trade Mart.

The state says they’re just a couple of weeks from opening the $30 million dollar facility to the public. Finishing touches are being made to the outside of the building. Inside you have a state-of-the-art gathering space.

The new Trade Mart building is bigger and better than the old one. With 64,000 square feet of exhibit space, the event hall can be split into three rooms allowing for multiple events to be held at one time.

Agriculture Commissioner Andy Gipson said, “This is a first-class venue that we have not had and it’s going to totally transform our ability to have not only bigger events but better quality of events. As you can see, the audiovisual equipment here inside the trade hall and in the hallways… wherever you are in this building you can see what’s going on.”

The lobby at the entrance is glassed in. There’s also a mural of the state made out of Mississippi timber greeting visitors – that theme carried throughout the main hallway where there will be three new eateries.

Interim Fair Commission Director Michael Lasseter said, “I think the experience will be much better, plus we have new cafés, a lot more audiovisual; it’s gonna be a much better experience for our customers.”

The main hall connects directly to the Coliseum where there’s another 28-thousand-square-feet of space and more upgrades. All the seats have been replaced there along with new handrails and flooring.

It’s also got a fresh coat of paint to match the new Trade Mart next door. If you come to the fair you can get a look at the new Trade Mart. They plan to have an agriculture exhibit in there starting October 7th.

To read the full article click here.

WBA Architecture hires 2 new team members

Posted by: Ledger 

WIER BOERNER ALLIN Architecture has added Amy Daniels, AIA, NCARB, LEED BD+C, and Dennis Daniels, AIA, NCARB, as project managers in its Nashville office.

Amy Daniels joins the firm from Newman Architects, PC in New Haven, Connecticut, and Washington, D.C., where she led a firmwide project management group responsible for project staffing, performance and personnel management. She is a graduate of Mississippi State University’s School of Architecture and the Rhode Island School of Design, where she earned a master’s in interior architecture and adaptive reuse.

Dennis Daniels was previously the Office of the Architect of the Capitol in Washington, D.C. He was an intern at WBA architect 2011-2012. Dennis is a graduate of Mississippi State University’s School of Architecture earned master’s in architecture from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

To read the full article click here.

WBA Architecture announces new team members

Posted by: MBJ Newswires | September 15, 2020

WIER BOERNER ALLIN Architecture has announced the addition of Amy Daniels, AIA, NCARB, LEED BD+C and Dennis Daniels, AIA, NCARB as Project Managers in their Nashville office.

Amy joins the firm from Newman Architects, PC in New Haven, Connecticut and Washington, DC, where she led a firm-wide project management group responsible for project staffing, performance, and personnel management. Amy is a graduate of Mississippi State University’s School of Architecture and the Rhode Island School of Design, where she earned her Master of Arts in Interior Architecture and Adaptive Reuse.

Dennis comes to the firm from the Office of the Architect of the Capitol in Washington, DC, but is no stranger to WBA, having served as an intern architect in 2011-2012. Dennis is a graduate of Mississippi State University’s School of Architecture and received his Masters of Architecture from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

To read the full article click here.

City of Richland breaks ground for new recreation center

By Reggi Marion| September 9, 2020

RICHLAND, Miss. (WLBT) – The City of Richland is adding a new facility for families across the metro.

Leaders broke ground Tuesday for a state-of-the-art recreation center on Harper Street.

The nearly $5 million project will include a multi-purpose indoor basketball and volleyball courts, meeting rooms, concession stand, a mezzanine area, an indoor walking track and covered porch, a covered outdoor basketball court, two outdoor sand volleyball courts, a Splash Pad, horse shoe pits, playgrounds, a workout area, and an exercise area for seniors. Construction is expected to begin soon and will take about 14 months to complete.

Mayor Pat Sullivan said, “How do you standout in this Jackson metro area? I believe the architects hit the nail on the head on coming up with a plan that will be very user friendly and our surrounding communities.”

Parks and Recreation Director Cole Smith added, “It also makes our parks and rec department standout from any others around us. A lot of cities have gone towards their baseball fields and understandably so. This helps us standout as a department to be able to offer those other programs outside of that, even though we still have those, we’re able to expand on what we’re able to do and we’re not enclosed to a few things here and there. We are able to provide something year round.”

The project will be paid for by the two-percent food and beverage taxes as well as the three-percent hotel taxes.

To read the full article click here.


The entrance of the Wellness Commons on University Avenue. Photo by Rob Mohr (C’21).

By Madison Sellers
Junior Editor

There has been a clear effort by the University to expand mental and physical health resources this semester to combat new stresses on campus due to the pandemic. This effort has led to the growth of new programs like Peer Health Educators, increased offerings of virtual mental health workshops and peer support groups, and free flu vaccines to be provided by University Health Services. The construction of the new Wellness Commons had been planned long before COVID-19 struck, but there’s no better time to promote student health and well-being by opening a new, centralized health resource center on campus.

The Wellness Commons is one component of the University Commons project to enhance student life, which also includes the Learning Commons in duPont Library and the future Social Commons. Originally, a plan was designed in 2014 for one building to house the Learning, Wellness, and Student Commons together, but the design was changed from one building to three for better distribution across campus. 

The Wellness Commons will be the new home for the University Wellness Center and the Sewanee Outing Program (SOP), as well as Sewanee FitWell and a bookstore. The bookstore is now open from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m and carries similar items like bluebooks, snacks, school supplies, and Sewanee gear. The SOP is currently still located in the Bishop’s Commons, but its future location is the bottom floor of the Commons next to the Wellness Center.

The central location next to McClurg will give students easier access to health resources, especially services provided by the Wellness Center. Previously located next to the Southern Tennessee Regional Health System Hospital, a long walk from main campus, the University Health Service (UHS) is now fully open to students on the bottom floor of the Wellness Commons. To visit UHS, students should make an appointment by calling 931-598-1270. 

FitWell is a fitness and recreation program with new facilities and weekly classes, and serves as another fitness option in addition to Fowler Center. 

“FitWell strives to promote relationships and connections in our student community with movement and exercise, in hopes of developing a lifelong appreciation of wellness and movement,” says Sarah Rundle, director of the Wellness Commons. 

Classes like indoor cycling (moved outside to the patio), total conditioning, yoga, and cardio remix are primarily taught by student fitness instructors, who have each completed training and passed a national certification exam. Rundle says they plan to gradually offer more classes. “It will be dependent on a number of things, including COVID-19 restrictions, demand, and availability of instructors and equipment,” she explained. There are also general exercise spaces available for use. Since FitWell is opening with a limited capacity to maintain health protocols, students must reserve time slots for working out.

In the next week, students will be able to sign up for classes and reserve spaces in FitWell through an online registration portal at A Sewanee FitWell app will also become available sometime this month. Currently, students can find the program schedule through this link, along with other resources like guided meditations and Wellness Center events. The link can also be found in the Wellness Center’s Instagram bio (@uwcsewanee). 

While construction is complete, the Wellness Commons is not yet fully open. This week was FitWell’s soft opening for student staff, and it plans to fully open to the student body in the next one to two weeks. 

The Biehl Commons, which will be a Social Commons and student union, will be the final piece of the University Commons project. Its construction is set to begin in early 2021 on the site of the Thompson Union.

To read the full article click here.

Commissioner Andy Gipson Announces Renovations to the Mississippi Coliseum Completed Ahead of Schedule

By YallPolitics Staff 

Mississippi Agriculture and Commerce Commissioner Andy Gipson announced the completion of the multi-million dollar renovation project to the Mississippi Coliseum five months ahead of schedule.

“I am excited to announce the early completion of renovations to the Coliseum on the Mississippi State Fairgrounds,” said Commerce Andy Gipson. “Initially, the renovation work was taking place in between scheduled events, but with event cancellations due to COVID-19, the contractors were able to complete the job five months early. I want to once again thank the Mississippi Legislature for their support that made these renovations possible.”

The $2.2 million renovation began in October of 2019 and was to be completed in January of 2021. Renovations included repairing and painting the floors and walls, installing new seating, and adding handrails and reflectors. The floors were equipped with an abrasive, slip-resistant paint to prevent falls and reflectors were specifically placed for the lighting of walkways. Wier Boerner Allin Architecture designed the renovation project and Paul Jackson and Son, Inc. was the general contractor.

This investment in the Coliseum provides new and safe aesthetics, conveniences and amenities that will attract new business and groups to the Mississippi Fairgrounds. The Mississippi Coliseum is attached to the new Trade Mart, which will make both facilities more marketable for hosting a wide array of events.

“The safety and security of our guests is our top priority, and these repairs have been completed with that goal in mind,” said Michael Lasseter, acting director of the Mississippi Fairgrounds Complex. “Now, we are looking forward to getting back to business and once again hosting some of the state’s largest events, in a safe and engaging environment.”

The Mississippi Legislature consolidated the Mississippi Fair Commission into the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce effective July 1, 2020. According to Commissioner Gipson, the Mississippi Fair Commission and the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce have had a long, beneficial working relationship.

“We have worked so closely together that most in the public and many in state government didn’t realize they have been separate agencies. I expect our strong mutual commitment to promoting agriculture, commerce and industry to continue as we move forward together,” said Commissioner Andy Gipson.

Visit for more information.

To read the full article click here.

St. Andrew’s preparing for new chapel

By Duncan Dent

St. Andrews Episcopal School will begin construction on a new chapel with a 55-foot bell tower on their Ridgeland Campus.

Jack Allin, a partner at Wier Boerner Allin Architecture, said that the chapel will be used for a variety of functions form worship services to musical performances.

“The new chapel at the north campus marks improvement and progress,” Allin said. “The site is right in the heart of campus. Students and faculty and visitors will circulate in and around the building throughout the day.”

Allin said the new chapel will include the 55-foot bell tower with a system of bells and chimes to mark the time of day or commemorate special events.

Allin said that seating configurations will be versatile but they expect it to hold a capacity of about 120 people.

Allin has presented the building before both the city of Ridgeland’s Architecture Review Board last week and the Board of Aldermen on Tuesday and received approval. 

To read the full article click here.

Mississippi Coliseum Complete, New Stage Scholarships and Malco Reopenings

By Dustin Cardon

Mississippi Agriculture and Commerce Commissioner Andy Gipson recently announced that work finished five months early on renovations to the Mississippi Coliseum at the Mississippi State Fairgrounds, partially due to event cancellations from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Wier Boerner Allin Architecture designed the $2.2 million renovation project, which began in October of 2019 and was originally on schedule to finish by January of 2021. Renovations included repairing and painting floors and walls with abrasive, slip-resistant paint, installing new seating and adding handrails and reflectors.

The Mississippi Coliseum is attached to the new Mississippi Trade Mart building. The state legislature consolidated the Mississippi Fair Commission into the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce effective July 1, 2020.

For more information, visit

New Stage More Than A Building Virtual Summer Camp Scholarships

New Stage Theatre (1100 Carlisle St.) recently gave out 10 full-tuition scholarships for its More Than A Building Virtual Summer Camp to allow Mississippi students to attend the camp who would otherwise not be able to. Students took part in an audition and an essay contest for the scholarships, which The Walker Foundation and The Field Co-Operative, Inc. sponsor.

The winners of the scholarships include Jackson residents K.B. Griggs, Aaryka Handy, Darby Frost, Taylor Moore, Ashton Reed, Arielle Brumfield and Arianna Brumfield, and Brandon residents Kaitlyn Burkhalter, Olivia Matthews and Naomi Willis.

New Stage’s More Than A Building Virtual Camp is for students ages 11 to 18. This year’s camp took place from June 29 to July 17. Campers receive daily theatrical instruction in acting, dance, voice and production, as well as master classes in playwriting, musical theater, film acting, dance and casting a play.

For more information on New Stage Theatre’s education programs, call 601-948-3533, ext. 232, or email

Malco Renaissance Cinema Grill Reopens

The Malco Renaissance Cinema Grill (1000 Highland Colony Parkway., Suite 13000, Ridgeland) at the Renaissance at Colony Park officially reopened on Friday, Aug. 7, after being closed since March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Malco has put safety procedures into place such as advance online ticketing and contactless ticket redemption. Malco has also installed hand sanitizer stations in all buildings and shut off water fountains.

Theatres with traditional seating arrangements require that groups be at least 6 feet apart, with every other row empty. Family members may sit together but must maintain social distancing with other guests. Theatres with recliner seating are already distanced between rows, Malco’s website says.

Face coverings or masks in common areas are currently optional at select locations, but management reserves the right to make them mandatory if social distancing cannot be maintained. Guests may remove coverings when eating, drinking or seated for their movie.

For more information, call 601-521-1171 or visit

To read the full article click here.

Flourishing in Spite of a Flood

The new Mississippi Trade Mart in Jackson is on schedule for completion by June 2020, Steve Hutton, executive director of the Mississippi Fair Commission, told the Jackson Free Press.

WBA Architecture welcomes David Ford

The partners of WBA Architecture recently announced the addition of David Ford, AIA, as Project Manager.

Meet the Team: Matthew Lewis

Project Coordinator Matthew Lewis chose to work for WBA for a summer during architecture school because he appreciated the firm’s attention to design. He officially joined the team after graduation and is excited to be with a firm that cares about its people and its city.

Tell us about yourself.

I grew up just down the road in Flowood, and graduated from MSU in 2019. I moved to Belhaven in the spring of 2018, and I’ve loved living here!

What made you interested in architecture?

My dad is an architect, so I’ve been exposed to it since I was young. I’ve always been interested in design, and I seemed to always gravitate towards the arts and sciences. I did Mississippi State University’s Design Discovery camp before my junior year of high school and loved it, so I figured architecture was the right fit for me. 

What has been the most challenging aspect of your job?

Getting off the drawing board and finding a balance between craft, budget, practicality, and other “real life” concerns, and also managing my time between different projects and different phases of projects. One of the most fun parts about architecture school was the ability to dig deep into a single project and explore lots of ideas without having to be as limited by those constraints.

What has been the most rewarding?

The most rewarding thing has been to see projects I’ve drawn become reality. I worked at WBA the summer before my fifth year of architecture school, and I’ve been able to see some of those projects begin construction after I rejoined the team in June. I’ve also been a part of several fast-paced projects. I did a lot of the drawing for them in the summer of 2019, and they are already under construction. I also love working with the team here; they make it fun to come to work every day.

When you’re looking for inspiration, where do you turn?

I love to travel, and I love to see how people in other places live. I love seeing how they interact with both the built and the natural environment (both in the present day, and throughout history). Some of my favorite experiences in school came from trips to different cities. I had the blessing of taking a class in New York City for a month, which allowed me to live and study how life works in one of the greatest cities in the world. I was also able to take a trip to Rome, and spend a couple weeks in various cities in Italy. Both of those trips were very impactful in how I view architecture and design. (Also, I love to just flip around in google street view and pretend to visit places all over the world. It’s so fun!)

When you aren’t at work, what can we find you doing?

If I’m not at work, you can probably find me enjoying one of Jackson’s great restaurants or coffee shops. If I’m at home, I’m probably watching The Office or playing with my dog, Lucy (most of the time, both). 

New Pharmacy Opens in District at Eastover

Metro Jackson residents  have a brand-new option for personalized pharmacy care when District Drugs & Mercantile opened in The District at Eastover earlier this month.

New architecture committee now functional

Aldermen appointed the first independent consultant to the city’s new Architecture Review Committee on Tuesday. The appointee is Jamie Wier, an architect based out of Jackson.

Bower Academic Center Set to Start Construction in February

A new facility for Southern Miss Athletics to greater assist Golden Eagle student-athletes in the pursuit of their education endeavors – The Bower Academic Center – begins construction next month on the second floor of Cook Library.

Firm hired to design, oversee construction of Civil Rights Park

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen has hired a Jackson architect firm to design and oversee construction of the proposed civil rights park at the Kuhn Memorial Hospital site.


After interning at WBA during his fifth year of architecture school, Jake officially joined the team after graduating last year. He was drawn to the collaborative environment, the wide range of projects, and is excited by the work WBA contributes to his community.

What made you want to be an architect?

Growing up I’ve always had an interest in art and design, and a trip to Barcelona in 9th grade sparked my interest in architecture. I had strongly considered a major in architecture but was eventually scared away by the “horror” stories of it. So upon high school graduation, I ended up pursuing a major in biomedical engineering. After a year of painful chemistry classes and a desire for some creativity in my life, I realized the mistake I had made. I changed my major and began my architecture journey the following summer, and I immediately knew it was the best decision I could have ever made. 

What’s your favorite project you’ve worked on so far?

I have enjoyed being a part of the team working on the recent Greek housing projects. Through these projects, I have been able to learn so much about architecture and design in the “real world,” and these projects have allowed me to dabble in all stages of the design process. 

Any advice for architecture students?

I would say enjoy the design freedom you have in school and don’t be afraid to explore new and unusual ideas. 

What can we find you doing when you’re not working?

When I’m not working, you can find me spending time with friends and family and my dog Mochi. You’ve also probably seen me reading at one of Jackson’s finest coffee shops. Most recently though, I am pursuing my new interest in baking. I have now mastered a fantastic chicken pot pie. HMU for the recipe. 

What’s one of the biggest lessons you’ve learned as part of Team WBA?

A major lesson I’ve learned at WBA is time management. I have been able to learn how to manage multiple projects at a time that are undergoing different stages of the design process.

WBA Architecture Announces Promotions

The partners of WBA Architecture are pleased to announce the promotion of Molly Diffee to associate and Russ Markle to studio manager.

Foundation work underway for Mississippi Children’s Museum – Meridian

Foundation work is underway this week for the Mississippi Children’s Museum-Meridian off 22nd Avenue.

WBA Architecture announces promotions

The partners of WBA Architecture announced the promotion of Molly Diffee to Associate and Russ Markle to Studio Manager.

Initial Plans Proposed for CHS Stadium

The Columbia school board was able to see initial plans for a renovated Walter Payton Field at Gardner Stadium during a work session Wednesday.

Groundbreaking for East Mississippi’s first children’s museum to be in Meridian

Nearly two years after announcing the plan to open a second Mississippi Children’s Museum location, museum officials are breaking ground in Meridian, making it the first children’s museum in East Mississippi.

Development coming to Fondren neighborhood, Robert St. John announces

Robert St. John announced on Thursday plans for a $13 million project featuring restaurants, a bowling alley and a renovated Capri theater in Fondren.


Drawn back to his native Mississippi after living and working for firms in Texas and Maine, John Taylor Schaffhauser was looking to invest in his home state. As Project Architect at WBA, he brings fresh ideas to the table from his wide-ranging experience in projects from retail to restaurants to libraries.

When did you know you wanted to be an architect?

The moment I decided to be an architect coincided with my freshman orientation at Mississippi State, where I attended as a biomedical engineering major.  As part of the orientation, I sat in on a graduate-level biology lab and advanced calculus class with all of the other naive freshman, silently panicking, thinking to myself, “There’s absolutely no way I could do anything remotely like this for the rest of my life.”  So I thought to myself, what’s the one thing I could do every day and actually enjoy?  The answer was design; I had just finished being the editor of my high school yearbook and set designer/builder for the annual school pageant. I finally listened to my dad, who had always told me I should be an architect and I decided to give it a go.  The final deadline for applying to the School of Architecture for that year was only 48 hours later, so I stayed up all night drawing a pair of tennis shoes and scrapping together my application (my first glimpse into what architecture school would be like), and I was accepted.  It was one of the best impulsive decisions I’ve ever made.

What made you want to return to your home state and join Team WBA?

I’ve always been one to chase after adventure. So, upon graduating from architecture school at MSU, I vowed to move far away, see the world, and experience life in places very different than what I had known growing up in the South.  After four years of traveling and living in both San Antonio and Coastal Maine, I came around to see my home state of Mississippi in a new light.  I saw the value of where I grew up, the value of experiencing life with my family and old friends, and the opportunity to contribute to the place I knew and loved the most as an adult. When considering coming back to Mississippi, I was drawn to WBA because of the number of people here that have the same story and embrace their knowledge and lessons learned elsewhere, but choose to invest their talents into their home state and this community. 

What values do you think are key in solving design problems?

I think before you can find the solution to a design problem you have to immerse yourself into discovering what the problem really is.  So many times I’ve approached a design problem and discovered that what I thought was a problem or a constraint was actually an opportunity.  Getting to this point takes time, so I believe a key value in design is allowing yourself the time and energy to meander through different iterations and allowing yourself to fail, because through this process, no matter how many seemingly irrelevant things you learn, each iteration or failure will only strengthen your understanding of the problem, and ultimately give your final solution legitimacy. 

Do you have a design philosophy?

My time spent working with many different architects who all have their own approach to design has taught me that my own “design philosophy” will constantly evolve.  If you would have asked me this question once a year since I’ve been in the design world, my answer would have been completely different each time. Similar to allowing myself the time and energy to solve a single design problem, I think forming a design philosophy as an architect takes a lot of time and experience.  All this being said, right now I subscribe to the very broad belief that architecture should simultaneously strive to improve the lives of people, the built environment, and the natural environment.  Ask me again in ten years and I’m sure I’ll tell you something different!

When you aren’t at work, what can we find you doing?

You can find me spending time with my wife, my family, and my dogs, and carving out time to dabble in one of many random hobbies.  Right now my free time is being spent starting up a saltwater reef aquarium, but you can also find me tending to my yard, searching for more rare cacti and succulents to clutter my patio, or planning another trip to somewhere I’ve never been. 

$50 million Madison development to include shops, restaurants and homes

The 18-acre space will feature offices, shops, restaurants and single family homes. There will be 37 homes and nine townhomes.

Ole Miss Announces Plans for New Track & Field/Cross Country Team Facility

Ole Miss Athletics and the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation have announced plans to build a new team facility for the Rebel track & field and cross country teams.

Early site work under way for MCM-Meridian

The ground pulsed Thursday morning as heavy equipment compacted the dirt that will form the foundation of the Mississippi Children’s Museum in Meridian. 

Jackson Mississippi Architecture firm WBA expands to The Nations behind Stocking 51

WBA Architecture expands to Nashville and celebrates ten years

As WBA Architecture celebrates its tenth anniversary this month, the partners of the Jackson-based architecture firm announce the opening of a new office in Nashville.

Celebrating 10 Years and BIG NEWS!

As we reflect on the last decade, we’re looking forward to what’s on the horizon.

WBA Architecture welcomes Lewis and Gartman

The partners of Wier Boerner Allin Architecture announces the addition of Matthew Lewis as project coordinator and Jake Gartman as project coordinator.

Made in Mississippi S5E12

On this episode of Made in Mississippi Casey meets with Jamie, Michael, and Jack of Wier Boerner Allin Architecture. From the Brandon Amphitheater to Mississippi State’s Dudy Noble Field in Starkville, these talented partners are making a lasting impact on our state.

Etheridge: Mississippi State Preparing To Host Grand Party

When you build a stadium like the one in Starkville, it is for days like Sunday. 

New $30 million Trade Mart on schedule to open next Spring

1962 meets 2020 is the way the Mississippi State Fair Commission Executive Director describes the transformation.

Meet the Team: Beth Hudspeth

Operations Coordinator Beth Hudspeth was born and raised in Jackson and recently returned to Mississippi by way of New Orleans. A graduate of the University of Mississippi, Beth enjoys communicating and collaborating with employees and customers alike, which makes her a great fit with the friendly, interpersonal-focused environment at WBA.  Her organizational skills and attention to detail support her coordination with staff and assistance in daily operations.  Outside of the office, you can find Beth adapting to new motherhood, cooking, traveling, and spending time with her family. Join us as we get to know Beth!

Tell us about yourself.

I graduated from Ole Miss with a degree in Hospitality Management and moved to New Orleans, where I was an event planner at a well-known restaurant in the French Quarter for three years. Due to the long nights and weekends that came with event planning, I turned my career path to commercial real estate/ property management. After eight fun years in New Orleans and welcoming a son in May, my husband and I moved to Jackson last summer and I began working at WBA in August. 

What’s your favorite thing you’ve learned about architecture or design since joining Team WBA?

I came into my position not knowing much at all about architecture, and I can honestly say I learn something new every day. There are so many pieces and parts (literally) to it, and I find it very interesting.  

What’s a day in the life of Beth like at WBA?

You can typically find me running errands, assisting with contracts, filing, answering phones, and helping where I can to ensure things run smoothly around the office.   

What’s your favorite WBA project you’ve seen come to life?

The Brandon Amphitheater.

When you aren’t at work, what can we find you doing? 

Chasing around my almost one-year-old, relaxing over a glass of wine, or traveling.

Mississippi State’s Dudy Noble Field is The New Palace of College Baseball

Approaching from the east, visitors don’t see Dudy Noble Field until they are upon it. It rises from the Mississippi State campus like a cathedral, resplendent in its grandeur.

Brick City Drugs is Madison’s Newest, Independently-Owned Pharmacy

Brick City Drugs, a locally owned and operated, independent retail pharmacy, is open for business in Madison.

Meet the Team: Will Tonos

Will joined the WBA team straight out of college. He was drawn to the skilled and experienced architects on staff who are willing to take time out of their day to help him grow. He brings a fresh perspective to the firm and a desire to develop into a well-rounded architect. The Gulf Coast native has lived in many parts of the state and graduated from Mississippi State’s School of Architecture in 2015. Today, we’re diving deeper with Will to see what keeps him motivated.

What ignited a passion for architecture in you?

I’ve always loved to draw and design things. There wasn’t really one moment when I “became” passionate about architecture; I think it was built in.

What’s something no one really knows about you?

I mix my own custom fountain pen colors.

What has been your greatest accomplishment at WBA?

Gaining the experience through thoughtful mentorship to become a licensed architect.

When you need inspiration, where do you turn?

Nature… and coffee.

When you aren’t at work, what are you doing with your free time?

Tinkering with and upgrading my home PC, attempting cardio exercises, disc golfing, biking and chilling with my cat, Miss Cleo.


When Julie’s husband, Russ, began working at Wier Boerner Allin, she knew it was the kind of work environment she wanted to be a part of. This Project Manager and Architect brings more than a decade of experience in educational, commercial, healthcare, technological, residential, governmental and athletic architecture to WBA. When she’s not poring over a new building, she’s spending time with her family, reading, cooking, entertaining and cheering on the Colts.

Tell us about yourself.

I was born and raised in Columbus, Mississippi, but left town when I was 14 to go to boarding school in Virginia. I was ready to come home to Mississippi for college, though, and happily decided to go to Mississippi State University for architecture school and to be close to home again. After 5th year, Russ and I got married and decided to make the Jackson area our home. We love being close to both of our families, while enjoying the constantly-growing benefits of this city and area. We’ve now got two boys – Johnston, who is almost 5, and George, who just turned one.  

What made you interested in a career in architecture?

When I was young, my family traveled a lot and I grew up with the great fortune of visiting a lot of different places around the world. Those travels, as well as spending four years in and around Washington D.C. for high school, exposed me to so much architecture. I always felt in awe of the built environment and its impact on all aspects of life. At some point in high school, I realized that I wanted to have a part in creating this environment that has such a strong ability to affect lives in so many ways. 

What has been the most challenging aspect of your job?

This profession is never static. Every project is unique, every team is different. We have to adapt to new situations on a daily, and sometimes hourly, basis. The biggest challenge of my job is that I never know what a day is going to bring. But that’s also one of the things that keeps this job exciting and interesting. Practicing architecture is a constant education. 

What has been one of the most rewarding projects you’ve worked on?

I loved being a part of the transformation we made to the Morgan White Group building, which finished construction last year. To see an existing building take on a whole new character and life is remarkable, especially considering all of the challenges we faced over the course of that project. While it’s still under construction, I’m also so excited to see the new Mississippi Trade Mart take shape. That was the largest project I’ve ever managed and to see it inch upward in real life is so rewarding for all of the hard work our team did, and continues to do. 

When you need inspiration, where do you turn?

I’m going cliche on this one — maybe because it’s finally Spring. I turn to Nature, when I need inspiration. I can usually re-ground myself by standing still outside and taking in what the world has to offer. It’s so beautiful out there. 

When you aren’t at work, what can we find you doing?

Since I’ve got two small kids, this answer isn’t very interesting: packing lunchboxes, laundry, cleaning. When I get some time to myself though, I love to read, run, cook, and spend time with family and friends. Nowadays, we’re trying to teach Johnston to ride a bike, so we’re taking advantage of the longer days and beautiful weather to get outside with the boys. 

Preview: Dudy Noble Field, Mississippi State

Meet the Team: Jeremy Wright

Project Coordinator Jeremy Wright loves to draw and feels blessed to work with good people doing something that he enjoys. He has more than a decade of experience in commercial construction. When he’s not drawing, he’s playing guitar, woodworking, and enjoying the outdoors. Originally from Pennsylvania, Jeremy graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi with a Master’s in Architecture and Construction Visualization, where he met his wife Jil. The Wrights are the proud parents of two cats and two dogs. Today, we’re digging in to get to know Jeremy and what drives him in his work.

What was your first job?

My first job was working as a busboy/dishwasher at a restaurant/lounge on Friday and Saturday nights from 6:00pm to 1:00am when I was 15 years old.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

An artist.

What made you pursue architecture as a career?

I’ve always been good at drawing and I enjoy woodworking/construction. I thought working in architecture would be more stable than being an artist.

What’s one of the coolest things you’re working on right now?

The AG Museum Building Replacement project. Before I got into architecture I was designing and building animal enclosures (aviaries, rabbit hutches, etc.), so it feels connected to what made me want to pursue Architecture initially.

What’s your favorite thing about being on Team WBA?

My coworkers. They’re all very talented, hardworking, good people

Follow along with us on our Instagram stories @wbaarchitecture for more on Jeremy!

New park on farmers’ market site will be a huge draw for locals and tourists alike.

Construction on the city’s latest park is under way and once completed will become an added attraction to downtown.

“Phoenix Opportunity:” Ag Museum Breaks Ground on Children’s Barn

A groundbreaking was held today at the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Museum in LeFleur East for a new children’s barn, equipment barn and multi-purpose building.

Developers Propose Upscale Lodge, Conference Center for Franklin County

Public-private partnership starts planning process to transform sparsely populated rural region into economic powerhouse.

WBA Architecture Welcomes New Partners

Partners Jamie Wier, Michael Boerner, Jack Allin, and Eric Whitfield of WIER BOERNER ALLIN Architecture, announce the promotion of architects Ryan Hansen and Wade Thompson to partner. 

Ryan Hansen, AIA, has been part of the WBA team since 2013, where he has served as Studio Manager. He has over 15 years of experience in project design, preparation of contract documents, research and specification writing, construction administration, and facilities operations and management. Before joining WBA, Ryan worked at Duvall Decker Architects, P.A., as Associate of Contract Management and Construction Administration and as the manager of the firm’s facilities management arm, Rogers Dunn, LLC. During his time at WBA, he has been a vital part of a wide range of projects, including Sewanee University Commons, the Brandon Amphitheater, and the new Wellness Center at the University of Southern Mississippi. “I am truly grateful for the opportunity Jamie, Michael, and Jack have given me to be a part of this practice,” says Hansen. “My time at WBA has been most rewarding, in large part due to the relationships I have developed with them, the other Partners, and our amazing staff. I am excited for our growth and look forward to our future together.”

Wade Thompson, AIA, NCARB, has served as Studio Manager at WBA since 2010. Wade’s 18+ years of overall experience in design and construction administration helps keep WBA on the cutting edge of the industry. Before joining WBA, Wade worked with Duvall Decker Architects, P.A. and Foil Wyatt Architects and Planners, P.A. At WBA, he has worked on a variety of projects including Dudy Noble Field, Polk Dement Stadium, Nusz Park & A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre at Mississippi State University and the new Mississippi Trade Mart. 

“We are excited to add Ryan and Wade to our leadership team,” said Michael Boerner. “They are evidence of the great talent we have as part of our team and the opportunity for growth at our firm.” 

WIER BOERNER ALLIN Architecture was formed in 2009, when the economy was stalled, construction came to nearly a halt, and architecture firms across the country were downsizing. With a dream and determination, WBA has grown to a staff of 21 professionals, a majority of which have gained professional experience from nationally and internationally recognized design firms outside of Mississippi. Eventually, they deliberately chose to reinvest their talents back into the state. Sixty percent of the firm’s design professionals are licensed architects and the remaining are actively seeking licensure. WBA is licensed in ten states, from Colorado to South Carolina.

Mississippi Children’s Museum offers virtual tour of Meridian site

Officials are giving a virtual look inside to see what the attraction will offer and how it could transform the gateway to the Queen City.

Children’s Museum in Meridian preparing site, ideas

Just before the new year, Meridian residents saw the first signs of progress at the future site of the Mississippi Children’s Museum Meridian: demolition crews began work at the Old Sears Building on 22nd Avenue and announcements  were made of asbestos abatement.


Lucas joined WBA fresh out of college and has a passion for good design that centers around people. Lucas, a Double Springs, Alabama native, gained experience as a summer intern, drafting guidelines for schools for the State of Alabama and designing architectural renderings for the University of Alabama. He spends his time outside of work cooking, playing piano, participating in community events, and playing with his labradoodle, Finn. 

What made you pursue architecture?
I have always been (and still am) a Lego fanatic. Both of my grandads where in the construction industry and I think I inherited by curiosity, ingenuity, and passion for design from them. I entered my college years on a different career path, but after shadowing an architect during Spring Break of my freshman year, I was hooked!

What advice do you have for students pursuing a career in architecture?
Enjoy the process and have fun! Allow yourself to explore your personal interests. There is a freedom in school that is difficult to replicate once you graduate.

What do you find the most challenging part of a career in architecture?
The most challenging aspect is learning to juggle multiple projects in multiple stages. The toughest days are those where I have to work on several projects in the same day.

What drew you to WBA? 
I became familiar with several projects while living in Jackson during my fifth year of Architecture school. The diversity of work in WBA’s portfolio, their design philosophy, and the energy and environment in the firm is what enticed me to stay in Jackson and become a part of the WBA team.

What has been your most rewarding project to date?
The Wellness Center at University of Southern Mississippi. It was the first project I worked on my first day on the job. It has been very rewarding to work on a project from conception to construction so early in my career!


Interior Designer Holly Davis came to WIER BOERNER ALLIN from Nashville, where she worked with an interior design firm that specialized in the industries of senior living, corporate design, multi-family, healthcare, and hospitality. Whether assisting in the creation of the initial design concept, engaging in construction administration or installing furniture, artwork, and accessories, Holly is involved in multiple aspects of our projects. Join us as we get to know Holly.

Tell us about yourself.
I grew up in Franklin, Tennessee. My mom’s side of the family has a long line of Mississippi State graduates, so I decided to follow suit. After graduating, I moved back to Nashville for my Interior Design internship and continued to work at a commercial Interior Design firm for several years. I moved to Jackson about a year and a half ago to be closer to my boyfriend, a Jackson native.

What made you pursue a career in Interiors?
Growing up I always had a passion for design. I loved going to the Parade of Homes with my mom every year and admiring the best designed homes. I also remember walking into hotels or restaurants and drooling over the different materials used, accent lighting, or furniture. I knew I wanted to be a part of creating special spaces for other people.

What’s the best thing about being on Team WBA?
Our office is full of so many different personalities and everyone has their own strengths. I enjoy being challenged by each of them, pushing me to be a better designer. I feel very fortunate that I can say I enjoy everyone I work with.

What’s the most challenging aspect of your job?
One challenge an interior designer always comes across is gaining enough trust from the client to let you execute any of the crazy ideas you may have for their project. Luckily, 3D rendering programs like sketch-up makes it a little easier for the client to envision the space how we see it, however, it can still be a challenge!

Describe your job in three words.
Challenging, adventurous and fast-paced.


Associate Architect Russ Markle is drawn to work that requires critical thinking and creative solutions. At WBA, his positivity, 
attention to detail, and strong work ethic strengthen our firm. 

Tell us a little about where you come from.
I'm originally from Vicksburg, MS, where my mother was a school librarian and my dad was a coastal hydraulics engineer.

What made you decide to pursue architecture?
Even as a kid, I was drawn to creative pursuits such as making art and problem solving. The school of architecture seemed 
like a place where I could focus and direct my talents and interests towards a fulfilling career path.

Do you have any advice for students considering architecture?
Architecture is a very intense and focused program, and it can leave you very little time to be social. While difficult, 
it's important to find a proper balance between studies and life. Get out of the Architecture building, make friends, 
and retain those contacts. Success in our profession is not always about what you know, but also who you know.

What has been the most rewarding project you’ve worked on at WBA?
The new Health & Wellness Center at the University of the South at Sewanee. It has all the good stuff - the renovation of a 
historic building, contemporary addition, complex construction detailing, and a wonderful client group.

What’s your favorite thing(s) about being a part of WBA?
Working with a staff of talented peers on a great variety of projects.

When you aren’t at work, what can we find you doing?
Playing with my sons, Johnston and George, or grilling for family and friends.


Fondren Fitness

Developers plan new fitness center on Rainbow grocery site

Rainbow Building to Become Fondren Fitness


Director of Financial Operations Amye Bell loves the opportunity to apply her career in finance at WBA. Amye was drawn to the firm’s focus on community involvement and passion for their profession. Here, she supports our team by managing financial aspects of projects, allowing the design team to stay focused on the creative process. She brings to the table a strong attention to detail and a mind for processes. Outside the office, Amye enjoys yoga, traveling, and spending time with her dog, Birdie.

Tell us about yourself! 
I studied accounting at Mississippi State University. I moved back to Jackson after graduation and decided to make it home. My parents and siblings are all here and I love being able to spend time with them.

What made you make the jump from banking to working at a growing architecture firm?
From the beginning of my audit career I was always questioning how my work really benefitted anyone or anything. Auditors are notoriously disliked, so this was a nagging question. I knew I wanted to make a big change so I started looking for not just a new job, but a new career. I somehow landed an interview with WBA for a position they didn’t even have and I thought “this is it”, I knew I wanted to be here. And then Michael Boerner called me and told me they decided not to create the position! Can you believe that?! Thankfully he called me a month later to offer me the job and I have not looked back since. I love knowing that what I do every day is contributing in some way, directly or indirectly, to the amazing projects that WBA is creating. Whether it’s a place for people to come together as a community and cheer on their favorite team or a place for a student to go and feel inspired as they work toward getting their education, I am grateful that I get to be a part of it.

What are the values that drive the way you work?
I always consider if I was allowing someone to have control over my bank account, what qualities would I want in that person? Being trustworthy is the most important thing to me. I think anyone in a financial role has to be honest and perform their job with the utmost integrity.

What’s the best part of being a part of Team WBA?
The work culture and the environment that our leadership fosters are unlike anything I have ever experienced. Since I started my career I have worked for a 400+ employee corporate firm all the way to a tiny school in the middle of the mountains in Costa Rica, and I can honestly say I have never been happier to come to work every day. It is a privilege to get to work with the amazing people that make up our growing team.

When you aren’t crunching the numbers and keeping everyone in line, what can we find you doing?
I volunteer at the Mississippi Children’s Museum as well as the Mississippi Museum of Art. Both of are doing mazing work and it’s important for me, as a member of this community, to contribute to that in whatever way I can. I also enjoy gardening, live music and traveling.




Park will be Developed in Downtown


Associate Brian Wiginton enjoys the challenge of working on a wide breadth of projects while drawing on the knowledge of architects with other skill sets. Brian’s experience working in many firms on varying project types gives him a unique perspective. Today, join us as we get to know Brian a little better.

Where are you from?
I grew up in northwest Alabama in the small-is town of Florence (the Renaissance City!) on the Tennessee River.

What inspired you to pursue this line of work?
My grandfather was a land surveyor so I became fascinated by technical drawing/drafting at an early age. My grandmother was his office manager so I spent a lot of summers hanging out at his office a lot. As I got older, into high school, I got pretty good at math and at problem solving, logical thinking, etc., like my grandfather. But, I was a pretty creative kid too, so architecture seemed like a natural fit. Once I visit the School of Architecture at Mississippi State University and saw the drawings and models students were making, there was no going back.

What has been one of your most rewarding projects and why?
I could answer this a few different ways depending on how one wants to define “rewarding,” but I would probably have to say Dude Noble Field. I was the construction documents manager for that job, and it was by far the most challenging thing I’ve ever done. It’s wild to see it almost completed – they’ve been through a whole baseball season in that stadium already, and sometimes I still can’t believe it’s real.

What do you like best about being a part of Team WBA?
Everyone at the office brings something unique and useful to the table, which is rare to find. Also, they’re probably the only people in Jackson who could tolerate seeing me five days a week.

What would be your dream project?
I’ve had the opportunity to work on a ton of different types of buildings throughout my career, so that’s a difficult question. I did a lot of library work when I lived in Philly, and I really enjoyed those. I’d like to do another library some time. I like a lot of the work contemporary landscape architects are doing right now, so collaborating on a big, modern urban park would be really fun too.


Show Fountain will be Focal Point of Renaissance Phase 2


WBA Project Coordinator Golie Ebrahimian is a Houston native who moved to Mississippi in 2016 from St. Louis, where she earned her Master of Architecture from Washington University. She went on to work for a firm in St. Louis where she specialized in healthcare design and planning. Since joining the WBA family, she has found her home in a collaborative environment with team members who are willing to share their knowledge. Join us as we dive a little deeper with Golie.

What spurred you to pursue architecture as a career?
Since I was a child, I have always wanted to be an architect. I can remember my family and I traveling abroad and I was always fascinated by the architecture and how it varied from place to place and how local culture and history influenced the design.

How did you end up at WBA?
My husband and I moved here from St. Louis after he took a new job in Vicksburg with the Army Corps of Engineers. When I first started looking for a job after we moved, WBA stood out amongst all the firms because of their diverse projects, open studio environment, and the talented people.

What has been one of most challenging projects you’ve worked on so far in your career?
My most challenging project was Mercy Hospital Jefferson Cancer Center located in Crystal City, Missouri, with a firm in St. Louis. The biggest challenge was gaining the knowledge on patient experience and the technical aspects of oncology design.

When you aren’t designing and building, what can we find you doing?
You can find me outside with my husband, Brian, whether it be gardening, running, hiking, or just watching the birds in our backyard.



A Dream has been Realized for Michael Boerner

Cohen Pleased with Work at Dudy Noble Field


Since 2010, Associate Architect and Studio Manager Wade Thompson has been instrumental in the development of quality control procedures and intern mentoring here at WBA. He leverages his nearly 20 years of overall experience in Design and Contract Administration to help build our team and serve clients. Today, we’re diving deeper and getting to know Wade.

What inspired you to become an architect?
I’m very fortunate to have been raised by two selfless, wonderful parents who continually encouraged me to explore my creative side and taught me that I could do anything I put my mind to. My mother was a math teacher and instilled in me a strong appreciation for mathematics.

From an early age, I was fascinated by drawing and making things. At an early age, I wanted to be some sort of artist. But, as I grew older, I wanted to do something that could contribute to the world around me in a more permanent, tangible way. Becoming an Architect seemed like a way to combine my artistic and rational tendencies.

What has been one of the most rewarding projects you’ve worked on?
Being a graduate of Mississippi State University (class of 1999), I am very fortunate to have been involved in many projects on campus over the years.  It is a special feeling to be able to give back to my alma matter by directly using the tools & abilities that were seeded by my experiences at MSU.   However, no other project has been as rewarding me as the Additions & Renovations to Dudy Noble Field.

No project has been anticipated by the fan base like the “New Dude.”  With this level of exposure comes a commiserate level of scrutinization. Our design has been under the magnifying glass of the Bulldog nation since we began in 2015.  Re-shaping such an iconic facility, tied to a deep sense of history and tradition is no easy task.

Construction on the facility will not be complete until January 2019.  However, many in the media already refer to the incomplete facility as the “Carnegie Hall of College Baseball.  I think this speaks volumes about what has been accomplished to date.  Simply put, the best fans in collegiate baseball deserve the best facility in collegiate baseball.  We’re looking forward to welcoming everyone into the fully-completed facility for the 2019 season.

What’s your favorite building in Jackson and why?
The Bennie G. Thompson Academic & Civil Rights Research Center at Tougaloo College. It has great sculptural qualities and use of form, light, and materials.

When you aren’t at work, what can we find you doing?
I’ll be spending time with my dogs, cycling, playing bike polo, or painting.


Interior design alumna Molly Mullet Diffee featured in Southern Living


Whether observing a construction site for a school or detailing window designs for a commercial property, Project Manager Parker Anderson enjoys the fact that no two days at WBA are the same. Today, we’re diving a little deeper with Parker to discover what drives him in work and beyond.

What inspired you to become an architect?
Since I was a little boy, I loved to draw. I’d spend hours meticulously crafting detailed pencil drawings. In high school, after enough people said “you should be an architect,” I guess it stuck.

If you had to choose your single favorite building, what would it be?
I’d say Knowlton Hall at The Ohio State University designed by Mack Scogin Merril Elam Architects. It’s not a “knock your socks off” type of building, but quietly, the sense of discovery and playfulness in that building is a delight.

What has been your most rewarding project to date?
The Brandon Amphitheater. I love that so many people are able to interact with that place and that it helps facilitate joy in people’s lives, if only for one concert. It was special for me to attend the first concert, look behind me at the crowd during the show, and see so many people smiling and singing.

Where do you go for inspiration?
The boring answer is that I have a series of architecture and art blogs that I frequent. But, I also find inspiration in anything from car design to the experience of hiking in the woods.

What’s your favorite thing about being on Team WBA?
My coworkers. To come into work and do what we do with such a talented and amusing group is a blessing. I also enjoy the diversity of the projects on which we work. Whether it’s the new Trade Mart or a sorority house, there’s always something interesting happening.

When you aren’t working, what can we find you doing?
I will typically be somewhere with my wife and our two boys – ages two and five – entertaining and wrangling them in a variety of ways.

Bookstore will Anchor Village Revitalization


Anyone that has worked with Associate Architect Molly Frascogna in her nearly seven years at WBA knows that she’s all about the details – whether in the conceptual stages of a project or the final drawings. Today, we’re digging a little deeper and getting to know this integral member of our team.

What inspired you to become an architect?
“My parents have always said that from a very young age, they could tell by the way I created and viewed the world would make for a great career in architecture. So, I have my parents to thank. Not to mention, the time that my high school guidance counselor who told me that architecture was a ‘man’s profession’ inspired me to succeed.”

What is one of your favorite, most challenging, or rewarding projects that you’ve been a part of?
“Straight out of college, I moved to Chicago to work at a large international firm. My first projects out of school were fast-paced competition teams for mixed-use high rises in the Middle East. It was the most exciting, most challenging, and most exhausting projects I have ever worked on.”

If you had to choose your all-time favorite building, what would it be and why?
“I have lots of buildings that I love, but the first one that comes to mind is the Mies Van Der Rohe Post Office in downtown Chicago that is part of the Federal Center. We lived one block from it, so I walked past this building thousands of times. Every single time I passed it, whether it was a sunny summer day or a near blizzard, it was always a breath of fresh air nestled in the surrounding high rises reflecting all types of architectural styles onto its modern facade.”

When you aren’t minding the details and blowing through glass ceilings, what can we find you doing?
“With two young sons, playing all the sports, I don’t have much time for hobbies these days. But, when I can, I love photography, running, and painting.”

Ranking the Top 10 College Baseball Stadiums and Ballparks

Baseball America tabs 5 SEC venues as Top 10 college baseball stadiums


When Associate Architect & Studio Manager Ryan Hansen joined the WBA family in 2013, he quickly settled in, enjoying the juxtaposition of high-quality, focused work and a lighthearted work environment.

What spurred you to pursue this line of work?
As long as I can remember, I have wanted to be an Architect. I’m not sure where that came from, but as I explored that notion, I found that it satisfied my desire to draw, to create, to deal with tangible things. It was hard, and that for some reason appealed to me.

What has been one of the most rewarding projects you’ve worked on?
It’s hard to pick one, so I’ll pick two. I was the project manager for our new office at 2727 Old Canton Road in Fondren. It was really rewarding to work with so many of our staff to develop the design and see it through to reality. In our profession, the moment you complete a project is also when you leave, so here, it’s amazing to come to work each day in something you had such a large part in creating.

My second project is some replacement buildings at the Mississippi Agriculture and Forestry Museum. I remember visiting this place as a child, and my children love going there as well. For the last four years, I’ve been working with them to replace some buildings lost in a fire and it has been truly incredible to work at this place.

What’s your favorite style of architecture and why?
I don’t really have a favorite style of architecture. I prefer architecture that is authentic, and is created as a response to the real needs and circumstances of its users and inhabitants. The way a building looks, its form, and materials should always serve the way people inhabit it.

When you aren’t designing buildings and experiences, what can we find you doing?
Lately I have been playing a lot of chess with my two sons. However, I always love a good book, and every now and then I find some time to design and build a piece of furniture.

Mississippi Fair Commission Breaks Ground on the New Mississippi Trade Mart

Meet the Team: Holly Gomez

Three-and-a-half years ago, Holly Gomez joined the WBA team as Project Manager. She’s motivated by the work ethic of the staff that surrounds her and the commitment to problem solving on behalf of clients. When she’s not at work, you’ll find Holly spending time outdoors with her husband and three children or, if she gets a few minutes alone, drawing with a sketch book.

What inspired you to become an architect?

As a child, I grew up making things. My mom was an art teacher, so there were always projects in the works at our house. She encouraged us to be creative and convinced us that we could do anything. There was no line between creating and playing. Architecture has been a continuation of that experience.

What has been one of the most out-of-the-box projects you’ve worked on?

Several years ago, I designed and built a dog house for a local fundraiser. It was a small project, but we were able to use materials in a non-traditional way for a great cause.

What would be your dream project?

Designing a large scale interactive sculpture that blurs the line between art and architecture would be fun and challenging. I like the idea of working on a project that becomes part of the existing landscape and engages the public on a personal level.






Mississippi Trade Mart Ground Breaking

Behind the Design of the New Dude

New Dudy Noble Field

Michael Boerner joins Rebecca Turner of Supertalk from Starkville, MS to share in the excitement and unique accolades to be found within the new ballpark.

Meet the Team: Sully Clemmer

Sully Clemmer, AIA, NCARB, is a Construction Administrator  and Architect at WIER BOERNER ALLIN. After joining the firm two and a half years ago, he went to work making sure designs become a reality without complications. Sully works day-in and day-out with contractors and construction crews to implement architectural plans in real space.

What inspired you to choose this line of work?

I’ve always enjoyed art and construction and making things. To me, this was the perfect job that blended those items into one.

What has been one of the most rewarding projects you’ve worked on throughout your career?

At my old firm, I was on the job for the Mississippi State Capitol restoration and cleaning project. I learned an extensive amount about new and old construction techniques, and especially focused on how to detail a historic building with those particular materials. Currently, I’m the construction administrator for the Brandon Amphitheater and I’ve learned a great deal about construction at that scale.

What do you think is unique about the architecture found in Jackson?

Given our famous soil quality, most buildings in Jackson are of the same scale, yet they vary dramatically in style. We do have a very impressive sampling of different types of architecture for a city this size.

If you could travel to see any building on your bucket list, where would you go?

I love Peter Zumthor and my favorite building is Therme Vals in Switzerland. I’ve seen it twice and still love it.

When you aren’t making things happen on the job site, what can we find you doing?

I’m the father to three kiddos, so playing with them is my number one enjoyment. I am also a wedding and architectural photographer and love training for triathlons and playing tennis.

Making Over Dudy Noble Field: A Two-Year Project

Meet the Team: Molly Diffee

Interior Designer Molly Diffee joined WIER BOERNER ALLIN Architecture just over three years ago and since that time has poured her talents into projects such Ed’s Burger Joint in Hattiesburg, Forman Watkins, Dudy Noble Field at Mississippi State University, and the Alpha Phi Sorority house at Ole Miss, among many others. She brings a broad range of experience to the firm, including high-end hospitality, residential, and commercial design.

What inspired you to become a designer? 

As cheesy as it sounds, I can remember watching Trading Spaces on HGTV as a young girl. This show inspired me to re-design my own room at the young age of nine. My very brave mother helped me pick out the perfect comforter then took me to the Benjamin Moore store where we spent hours sifting through countless paint decks and wallcovering books until I found the perfect ones suitable for my design. This inspiration continued as I took many art classes throughout school. Even as a 12-year-old, I remember giving various opinions to my parents as they designed and built our family home.

What has been one of the most rewarding projects you’ve worked on? 

I would say the Alpha Phi Sorority House at Ole Miss. I was privileged to be a part of this project from start to finish. My contributions included programming, space planning, interior architectural finishes, lighting and even furniture and accessories. This project was our first to have a hand in every detail, down to the flowers on the table. Seeing every single part of this 26,000 square-foot home through was very rewarding. One of my proudest moments as a designer was going back for the ribbon cutting to see the building working perfectly for the girls and knowing their new home at Ole Miss was everything they dreamed of.

Why did you choose commercial rather than residential design? 

In commercial design, we have so many different types of clients who come with their many different design preferences. At WBA, we have project types ranging from athletic facilities, churches, banks, restaurants, and many more. This allows me to work on as many as eight projects at once that are all extremely different. I love the opportunities this creates for me to grow as a designer and a professional.

How would you describe your personal design aesthetic? 

Everyone at our office jokingly asks to check my temperature when I use color in a project so I would say “simple.” I love using monochromatic schemes, lots of gray, white, and other neutrals. I also enjoy using simple details that make a big impact.

What do you do when you aren’t designing show-stopping spaces? 

I love spending time with my husband Grant and our golden retriever Henry. We love taking Henry on jeep rides, swims in the lake, and walks through our neighborhood in Madison. I am also an avid runner, you can usually find me training for some kind of race, short or long distance. We have found an awesome community at Fondren Church where we spend time with friends in small and large groups weekly.


MCM Meridian, Myles’ Taco Shop and Travel Addict Vegan Foodie Tour


Meridian Children’s Museum to Locate at Former Sears

The District’s ‘Classy Burger Joint’

Fine & Dandy set to Open at The District at Eastover.

Southern Miss AD discusses plans for new volleyball facility

Southern Miss plans to build new volleyball facility.