Janet L. McCoy


AUBURN Auburn University's Rural Studio will be featured on national television Feb. 16 when ABC's "Nightline" televises a story on the one-of-a-kind learning environment for architecture students which places an emphasis on social awareness.

The Rural Studio, and its co-founder and director Samuel Mockbee, will be the subject of a 30-minute feature on the popular late night news show.

ABC producer Mary Beth Kircher and news correspondent Robert Krulwich visited the Rural Studio several times during the past year, and also interviewed Mockbee at his home in Mississippi.

Mockbee, an Alumni Professor of architecture at AU, in 2000 won a prestigious MacArthur Fellowship, the only architect and the only recipient from a Southern university to receive the distinction. The Chicago-based John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation named 25 fellows, each of whom will receive $500,000 over five years of "no strings attached" support.

Founded in 1993, Mockbee and architecture professor D.K. Ruth co-founded the Rural Studio, which brings students from the College of Architecture, Design and Construction to the Rural Studio's base in Newbern, a town about 160 miles from the Auburn campus in rural Hale County. The west Alabama county is one of the poorest in the United States, with more than 1,400 substandard dwellings.

Under Mockbee's direction the students build homes and other structures that challenges all convention in terms of methods, materials and forms. Since its inception, architectural students at the Rural Studio have built five new houses and numerous community projects including a farmer's market, children's center, a chapel, a bus stop and community center and an open-air pavilion. In addition, the students have completed hundreds of small construction projects such as roof repairs and new stairs.

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