Rural Studio, a program within the College of Architecture Design and Construction at Auburn University, began as a program to simultaneously improve living conditions in rural Alabama while also educating architecture students through a design-build process. Currently in its eighteenth year in Hale County, the program was founded by Samuel Mockbee and Dennis K. Ruth. The current director, Andrew Freear, has built upon the original mission of the program by shifting the studio’s focus toward community projects. A legacy of unique projects has helped develop students’ social conscious by providing them with first-hand knowledge of the necessary social, cultural, and technological concepts of designing and building within the framework of a community.
Rural Studio has now designed and built over one hundred-fifty structures in West Alabama and has educated more than five hundred architecture students in a service learning model that has received both national and international attention.