Rural Prosperity Summit Speaker
Chair of Auburn University’s Program of Architecture
Associate Director & Gresham Professor of Rural Studio
Rusty Smith is both Chair of Auburn University’s Program of Architecture as well as Associate Director and Gresham Professor of Rural Studio, Auburn’s internationally recognized design-build program. Rural Studio has garnered a world-renowned reputation not only because of its one-of-a- kind hands-on approach to architectural education, but also in recognition of the more than 150 beautifully designed and constructed projects for the underserved communities of Alabama’s rural Black Belt delta. Located in the small town of Newbern, Alabama (population: 186), Rural Studio has worked with a broad variety of community partners who together are committed to investing in and reinforcing the collective value of Place. The overarching philosophy of Rural Studio is quite simple: everyone, both rich and poor, deserves the benefit of good, dignified design, or what founder Sambo Mockbee often referred to as “Shelter for the Soul.”
The work of Rural Studio has been featured broadly in notable publications such as: Architectural Record, Architect, Dwell, Domus, Lotus, Fast Company, Metropolis, Time, House Beautiful, Garden and Gun, Southern Living, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal, and in book form by publishers Taschen, Phaidon, and Princeton Architectural Press. In addition to the built work in Rural West Alabama, Rural Studio also exhibits widely, and has been invited to design and build installations at MoMA, the Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, The Victoria and Albert Museum, The National Building Museum, and the Whitney Museum of American Art. Rural Studio has also enjoyed the honor of representing the United States at both The Venice Biennale and Triennale of Milan.
Educated first at Auburn University and then at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Rusty is a nationally recognized teacher and scholar. His honors related to teaching excellence include the receipt of both the American Institute of Architects National Teaching Honor Award and the American Institute of Architecture Students National Teaching Honor Award. Collectively, Rural Studio has garnered numerous recognitions for both teaching and design, including The American Institute of Architects Presidential Citation, The Whitney M. Young Jr. Award for social responsibility, and the UNESCO Global Award for Sustainable Architecture.