Auburn University’s Rural Studio Wins Prestigious National Design Award for Work in Alabama’s Blackbelt
This is the first time that a university program has won a Cooper Hewitt award in this category. The program — which is part of the College of Architecture, Design and Construction School of Architecture, Urbanism and Landscape Architecture – gives students a hands-on educational experience while helping an underresourced population in the West Alabama Black Belt region. Its primary mission is “the education of our students, coupled with research into sustainable and healthy rural living through both housing and the life systems we foster to ensure the prosperity of our communities.”
The Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum’s National Design Awards program honors innovation and impact and recognizes the power of design to change the world. Launched in 2000 as an official project of the White House Millennium Council, the awards have nine categories and aim to raise national awareness of the impact of design through educational initiatives.
A multidisciplinary jury of practitioners, educators, and leaders from a wide range of design fields selects each year’s winners.
“We are very proud of the students, faculty and staff at Rural Studio for this well-deserved design award,” said Karen Rogers, Acting Dean of CDAC. “For 29 years now, their efforts have produced magical buildings, projects and places that cohesively and skillfully integrate beauty, utility and sound construction.”
The Architecture and Interior Design category award recognizes an individual or company for the design of public, commercial and residential interior and exterior spaces. Past winners in this category include Ross Barney Architects, Brooks + Scarpa, Thomas Mayne and Diller Scofidio + Renfro.
“We are thrilled with this recognition as it acknowledges the quality of our design work, and we are honored to be honored alongside the roll call of extraordinary architects and designers,” said the director of rural studio and Professor Watt. Andre Freear said. “I hope this award sends the message that everyone, no matter where they live, deserves the benefit of beautiful, dignified and equitable design.”
Freear and other Rural Studio and CADC representatives will travel to New York for the official awards presentation on September 21. .
Founded in 1993, Rural Studio has built over 200 projects and trained over 1,200 students in Alabama’s Black Belt. About four dozen students are invited each year to participate in a context-based service-learning program, where students live and work alongside their neighbors and collaborate to find solutions to problems in the region.
Current focal points of Rural Studio’s research are innovative practices in housing access and affordability, effective and efficient use of wood, small-scale agriculture, and access to resources such as drinking water. To combat housing affordability, Rural Studio goes beyond reducing upfront costs for potential homeowners, including design that maximizes energy efficiency, resilience, and healthy living while providing dignified design that reinforces fairness.
This story originally appeared on Auburn University website.