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Posts Tagged ‘Auburn University’

May 20, 2014

Book: ‘Rural Studio at Twenty’ Released


Auburn University’s esteemed Rural Studio has released a third book today commemorating the program’s 20th anniversary. Written by Andrew Freear, Elena Barthel, Andrea Oppenheimer Dean, and Timothy Hursley, Rural Studio at Twenty documents the portfolio of projects implemented by the design-build studio in Hale County, Alabama, since legendary Samuel ‘Sambo’ Mockbee first started the program. The 288-page book is available on Amazon and Princeton Architectural Press.

For two decades the students of Auburn University’s Rural Studio have designed and built remarkable houses and community buildings for impoverished residents of Alabama’s Hale County, one of the poorest in the nation. Rural Studio at Twenty chronicles the evolution of the legendary program, founded by (MacArthur Genius Grant and AIA Gold Medal winner) Samuel Mockbee, and showcases an impressive portfolio of projects. Part monograph, part handbook, and part manifesto, Rural Studio at Twenty is a must-read for any architect, community advocate, professor, or student as a model for engaging place through design.

Click here to purchase Rural Studio at Twenty, online at

March 20, 2014

‘CAD Meets HCD’ With The Autodesk Foundation


“There I sat, surrounded by dozens of classmates, staring up at a hulking computer monitor, pecking away at a beige keyboard. We were buried in our “Introduction to AutoCAD” final project…” began our own John Cary‘s recent GOOD article “Computer-Aided Design Meets Human-Centered Design.” Now as the Autodesk Foundation’s Impact Program Curator, Cary traverses through his professional journey that has come full circle to Autodesk, along with citing the work of MASS Design Group and numerous university design programs who are teaching valuable hard and soft skills for future ‘impact designers.’

When this year’s graduates are plotting their future, I hope they better understand the potential marriage of technology and human-centered design than I did all those years ago. They can start by joining Autodesk and the Autodesk Foundation in using design to tackle epic challenges. Our communities, countries, and countless others around the world need measurable, impactful, human-centered solutions more than ever. So, let’s get to work.

Click here to read “Computer-Aided Design Meets Human-Centered Design,” online at

April 9, 2013

Rural Studio 20th Anniversary Campaign Launched


Co-founded in 1993 by the late, great architects Samuel Mockbee and D.K. Ruth, Auburn University‘s Rural Studio is ringing in its 20th anniversary this year. Auburn is wisely giving all of us admirers a chance to pitch in, sponsoring everything down to a 2×4 and all the way up to (and beyond) a six-figure gift.

While Auburn University covers the administration costs for Rural Studio, we rely on grant funds and philanthropic gifts from donors like you to build projects while also providing support for students and faculty. Your donation of any amount through the Auburn University Foundation is a tremendous gift and helps build a home for a family today and educate the citizen architects of tomorrow.

Click here to learn more the Rural Studio’s 20th Anniversary campaign, online at

October 9, 2012

NYTimes Slide Show: “Good, by Design”

Accompanying the “Dignifying Design” op-ed that appeared in the print edition of The New York TimesSunday Review section is an online slide show of related projects. Several of the projects appear in the new Autodesk Gallery exhibition, such as the Butaro Hospital in Rwanda by MASS Design Group (featured prominently in the article) as well as the Embrace Nest infant warmer and the ReMotion Knee by D-Rev: Design Revolution.

We are especially happy to introduce a few non-exhibition projects, including the gorgeous Windsor Farmers Market by the Studio H high school design/build program of Project H Design in North Carolina, the amazing Lions Park Playscape by Auburn University‘s Rural Studio students in Greensboro, Ala., and the stunning Masonic Amphitheater in Clifton Forge, Va., by Virginia Tech‘s design/buildLAB.

Click here to view the “Good, by Design” slideshow, online at

October 2, 2012

New Book: Designed for Habitat

When architects talk about design work for the public good, we’d wager that more times than not people’s next question has something to do with Habitat for Humanity. Yet, for much of its storied history, successful and known collaborations between Habitat and architects have been few and far between. Designed for Habitat: Collaborations with Habitat for Humanity (Routledge, 2012), a new book by David Hinson and Justin Miller of Auburn University, effectively changes that. Here’s what our own John Cary had to say about the book in his back cover endorsement:

Designed for Habitat presents potent evidence of the link between design and dignity, particularly in the context of low-income housing. It captures a crucial trifecta of perspectives–Habitat for Humanity leaders, homeowners, and designers. Their powerful, sometimes explosive stories aren’t sugarcoated by Hinson and Miller; the pair makes clear that these collaborations present huge challenges for often-opposing cultures, but can yield unprecedented payoffs. With America’s housing in a perpetual state of crisis, such partnerships are more important than ever. This highly-instructive, landmark book is an unmatched guide for future collaborations. It communicates so clearly and so convincingly to Habitat and its homeowners that they too deserve good design; indeed, we all do.

Click here to learn more about and order Designed for Habitat: Collaborations with Habitat for Humanity, online at

March 9, 2012

ArchRecord: Univ. Humanitarian Design Programs

There are estimated to be over 100 community design programs in universities across the country, a great many of which maintain active design/build components or full-blown community design centers. The fourth of seven sections of “The Good List,” published by Architectural Record, profiles a few standout programs. Each is recognized nationally and distinguished for their commitment to good design and unique models of community engagement.

University-based programs profiled include the Portland State University / University of Texas at Austin Building Sustainable Communities (BaSiC) Initiative, The Building Project at Yale University, The Carl Small Town Center at Mississippi State University, the Detroit Collaborative Design Center at the University of Detroit-Mercy, the Gulf Coast Community Design Studio (GCCDS) also at Mississippi State University, The Rural Studio at Auburn University, Studio 804 at the University of Kansas, the Tulane City Center at Tulane University, and the University of Arkansas Community Design Center.

Click here to read “The Good List” in its entirety. Caption: Photo of the Lion’s Park Playscape, a Rural Studio thesis project, in Greensboro, Ala., featured here in this month’s Architectural Record.

January 17, 2012

“Lessons from the Front Lines of Social Design”

Will Holman, a designer and craftsman based in Chicago, penned an insightful personal essay, “Lessons from the Front Lines of Social Design,” published yesterday by Places / Design Observer. In it, he recounts several experiences, among them a summer internship at Arcosanti in Arizona, a year spent at Auburn University‘s Rural Studio in Hale County, Ala., as part of its Outreach Program, and participation in a YouthBuild program in Greensboro, Ala. Throughout his remarkable journey, a hard truth persists–and it’s a challenge for all of us in the social design field:

In the last decade, much has been written about architecture for the greater good, and it would seem that the field, as a whole, is invested in bringing design to underserved communities. Yet all of this talk–at conferences, in the press, at universities–has focused hardly at all on how to put together a career in social design. I have sought out and pursued a suite of unconventional experiences, all the while finding it difficult to make a living and advance professionally.

Click here to read Will Holman’s essay, “Lessons from the Front Lines of Social Design.”

August 8, 2011

Design Ignites Change Awards Announced

Among our first profiles back in June, Design Ignites Change, an initiative of Worldstudio, announced the recipients of its student award program late last week. The awards support the actual implementation of student led solutions to pressing social issues. Now in its fourth round, this cycle of the awards elicited the greatest number of applications from the widest range of schools to date.

Four projects were called out for their promise and potential, including a web-based healthcare reminder platform called “Nudge,” submitted by students at the Austin Center for Design; “Blank Plate,” a project around healthy eating in the South Bronx from students at Parsons; along with two projects currently in progress at Auburn University‘s Rural Studio. The awards of up to $6,000 will help each project move toward implementation.

Click here for complete details about the projects, including image slideshows for each.

July 18, 2011

WSJ profiles latest Rural Studio $20K House

On Saturday, The Wall Street Journal profiled the latest addition to the $20K House Project, an initiative of Auburn University‘s acclaimed Rural Studio. The square-shaped house, now home to area resident Joanne Davis, is 26-by-26 feet, with 530 sf of interior space. With construction substantially completed in just seven weeks, $13,000 budgeted for materials and $7,000 for labor, Ms. Davis’ new home lives up to the $20K House challenge.

The WSJ article includes an online gallery with half a dozen photographs. Click here to access the Rural Studio’s dedicated blog about the $20K House, which includes dozens more photographs and extensive documentation of the project.

Credit: Photograph by Daniel Wicke / Rural Studio, Auburn University.

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