Around Campus: ‘Citizen Architect’

University sponsors showing,
discussion of film on Rural Studio


By David King

Texas State is sponsoring a screening of a documentary film and a panel discussion about the groundbreaking Rural Studio architecture movement.

The film, Citizen Architect: Samuel Mockbee and the Spirit of the Rural Studio, will be screened in the Alkek Teaching Theater at 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 7, and the panel will follow. The event is part of Common Experience and its theme of sustainability.

“I’ve known about the Rural Studio as a method of sustainable architecture for quite a while,” said Craig Hanks, a professor in the Department of Philosophy who helped bring the documentary to campus. “I worked at the University of Alabama at Huntsville for 10 years before I came to Texas State, and I knew some of the people in the program at Auburn.”

Samuel Mockbee

Citizen Architect focuses on the late architect Samuel Mockbee, who was a teacher at Auburn University. He co-founded the Rural Studio in 1993 as a way to improve living conditions in rural Alabama and provide practical experience to his students.

The panel discussion will include Sam Wainwright Douglas, who directed and produced Citizen Architect, and fellow producer Jack “Jay” Sanders. Also participating will be Stephen Ross, who worked with the filmmakers and has taught in the School of Architecture at the University of Texas at Austin for more than 20 years.

Hanks said the idea to screen the film on campus came from Linda Wiatrek, a graduate student in political science and sustainability studies. She approached the professor last year when the film debuted; it was screened at South by Southwest.

“I was delighted that she brought it to my attention, and I’m very happy we’ll be able to bring some of the filmmakers to campus,” Hanks said.

Mockbee was awarded a MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant and the American Institute of Architects’ Gold Medal Award for his work at the Rural Studio. His goal was to develop a new generation of “citizen architects.”

Citizen Architect explores the effort by Mockbee to give architecture’s future practitioners the knowledge and passion to improve a community’s quality of life, emphasizing compassion and ethical responsibility. The story centers on the process of building a home in rural Alabama, but includes insight from Mockbee, fellow teachers, residents of the area, and other architects and designers.

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