Postcards will document my journey through the creative world I have traveled.
In college, working together every afternoon at the architecture design studio, led to a comradery and competition that allowed for intense friendships and helped greatly with design studio survival tactics. The School of Architecture building was called Biggin Hall and its studio windows overlooked the corner of the Auburn Campus at the stop light intersection in downtown Auburn.
It sat adjacent to the famous campus gate that was flanked by two large oak trees that were often TP-ed, when Auburn celebrated winning games.
Biggin Hall’s windows overlooked Toomer’s Drugstore, Johnston and Malone bookstore, Anders bookstore, as well as the R rated movie theater. Many nights we had a front row seat to campus life, as we worked on our projects until the wee hours of the morning. These all-nighters helped us meet our studio deadlines. Most times in fourth year studio, the professor put our project design presentation boards up in order of ‘Best to Worst’ with accompanying grades and comments on the Biggin hallway.
The Auburn Architecture “Biggin Gang”, as we were later known included Cheryl, Edward, Bob, Jack, and me. Also, Sambo Mockbee (the late southern vernacular Architect and Auburn rural studio leader) joined the program and brought an added competition to the group.
With an architecture degree your career may go in many different directions. In this day and age, it is the closest thing to a ‘Renaissance education’ I have witnessed.
As for what happened to the Biggins Gang:
- Cheryl went head to head with the men in the studio and started her career in San Francisco. She ended up teaching and guiding the Urban Design studio for Auburn in Birmingham.
- Edward took me to visit his historic hometown in Tennessee and showed me his numerous sketch books he had accumulated before heading to AU. These books were awesome and humbling. I also learned from him that if the studio professor required a model to be built, you do not design any curves or sharp angles in your project. His professional life landed him in Montgomery, Alabama owning and directing a well-respected design firm.
- Bob always had the most professional way of organizing himself and his work. So, of course, he ended up running the Healthcare Design studio in a major Atlanta firm, as well as balancing teaching at Georgia Tech and getting a theology degree.
- Jack started out teaching at Auburn and taking students to Europe on their summer program. He later spent the majority of his design career at one of the top design firms in Atlanta with design specialties in multiple large building types.
You will meet and collaborate with many architects during a career in the profession. I am happy to say that many architects, educators, developers, planners, institutional leaders, and more are my friends and trusted colleagues.
Jim McGregor is a founder of Browne McGregor Architects and has served on the faculty at PVAMU and Auburn University. He is a graduate of Auburn University and Rice University. Before starting the firm in Houston in 1995 with Charles Browne, he worked at firms in Mobile, Denver, and Houston.