Andrew Freear, Rural Studio: Stories from the hinterland

This event has been tentatively rescheduled for June 2. Watch this space for updated information.

June 2, 2020
7:00 p.m.

Rural Studio | Boys and Girls Club, Greensboro, Alabama, 2014. Credit: Timothy Hursley.

This event has been postponed. We will update this page with a new time and date in the coming weeks.

Current Work is a lecture series featuring leading figures in the worlds of architecture, urbanism, design, and art.

Andrew Freear is the director of Rural Studio, an off-campus design-build program from Auburn University’s School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture in Newbern, Alabama. Established in 1993, the program is based on the belief that everyone deserves the benefit of good design.

As director, Freear serves as teacher, builder, advocate, and liaison between local authorities, community partners, and students. Rural Studio’s students have designed and built more than 200 community buildings, homes, and parks within a 25-mile radius in their under-resourced community. Working in one rural place for nearly 30 years and becoming a neighbor has allowed the Studio to focus on pressing rural issues: community building, food insecurity, access to decent housing that is affordable, and research into local materials and alternative building systems.

Recent and ongoing projects include:

  • Newbern Library: The transformation of the town’s old bank into a new community center and resource.
  • Rural Studio Farm: A response to the lack of access to fresh, locally-grown vegetables and its own poor diet, Rural Studio established its own farm where every student at the Studio works on the farm seeding, planting cultivating, harvesting, and ultimately eating together.
  • 20K Project and Front Porch Initiative: Ongoing projects that aim to provide rural homeowners with beautiful homes that are safe, secure, healthy, and energy-efficient.
  • Breathing Wall Mass Timber Research Project: An investigation that challenges modern building enclosures, which are designed as insulators and made from layers of many different materials, and instead uses a solid timber wall as a heat exchanger.

Freear received a BArch from the University of Westminster, London, and a diploma from the Architectural Association, London.

Freear has designed and built exhibits about Rural Studio at the Victoria & Albert Museum, the Whitney Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, as well as the Milan Triennale and the Venice Biennale. He has co-authored Rural Studio at Twenty: Designing and Building in Hale County Alabama

His honors include the Ralph Erskine Award, the Global Awards for Sustainable Architecture, and the Architecture Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Most recently, Freear was a Loeb Fellow at Harvard University.

The lecture will be followed by a conversation with Billie Tsien, co-founding principal architect of Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects.


This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

The event is co-sponsored by The Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture of The Cooper Union.



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