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Posts Tagged ‘Bruce Lindsey’

A Rural Studio Tour

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As the Project M team continued to wrack their humidified brains, we were treated to a personal tour of some of the Rural Studio’s sites with Bruce Lindsey, former head of the Studio. If you’re not familiar with the story, feel free to educate yourself, but here’s the skinny: Since the early 90s, thanks to one Samuel “Sambo” Mockbee, Auburn University architecture students have been designing and building houses for residents in and around Hale County, an extremely rural and economically depressed community. There’s also an Urban Studio in Birmingham.

With coverage in most design publications, museum exhibitions, books, you name it, we were worried about tourism overwhelming the area, but students and faculty have worked really hard to keep the experience authentic. Although we heard word of tour buses (yes, there are some, apparently), it’s preferable to grab a simple map and respectfully navigate the country roads yourself. Supposedly the influx of interest brings $2 million to the county per year, which was a shocker. But besides the stunning projects, there’s no real sign of gentrification as far as we could see. Kudzu-covered derelict buildings dot the lush landscape, and many of the buildings on Main Street here in Greensboro are abandoned. In many ways, it hasn’t changed much since its appearance in the Walker Evans-James Agee book Let Us Now Praise Famous Men (we’ve all been reading the follow up article in Fortune, which checks in with the descendants of those photos). But these are some of the friendliest people you’ll ever meet–who are plenty proud to show you their homes, by the way. Plus there’s mountains of crispy fried catfish for dinner.

Above is the animal shelter–referred to by everyone as The Dog Pound–which was definitely one of the most impressive things we’ve ever seen. Namely because the three students were working away on it in 95-degree heat.

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Project M at the Rural Studio Heats Up

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Two planes and 30 degrees Fahrenheit away from our LA environs, we are coming to you live from Greensboro, Alabama, located in the now world-famous Hale County, home of the Rural Studio, and also this summer’s ground zero for the design-for-good program Project M. John Bielenberg (that’s him up there in the orange) and eight young designers have been cooking up ideas for making a difference here since June 1, with a steady stream of advisors shipped in regularly to invigorate and inspire.

Swiss designer Thomas Sevcik blew in for a day, Adam Brodsley was here a few weeks back, and his Volume partner Eric Heiman is here now, with Brian Collins rumored to be peeking his head in next week (en route to China, perhaps?). Erik Cox and Christopher Simmons are also headed this way, and we were thrilled to have Washington University architecture dean Bruce Lindsey here for the weekend, who was former head of the Rural Studio.

First, some shots from our orientation, including the HERO Knowledge Cafe (a housing resource center for the county) above, which is serving as M’s base of operations.

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