Architecture 'about American democracy'

Critic's choice: Architecture

January 16, 2000|By Edward Gunts

Architect and educator Samuel Mockbee, who promotes "democracy" in architecture by working with college students to design and build homes for low-income residents in rural Alabama, will discuss his work this week during an appearance at the National Building Museum in Washington.

Mockbee has been selected as the first recipient of the museum's Apgar Award for Excellence, given in recognition of his efforts to promote the practice of architecture as a social good.

Mockbee has earned national attention as the co-creator and director of the Rural Studio in Hale County, Ala., where he gives hands-on training to architecture students at Auburn University. His designs draw on the regional vernacular of the South and reflect socially responsible design principles.

"I would like to think that we can develop an architecture that is about American democracy, where we can create well-designed buildings and places for everyone and not just those who can afford architects," he has said.

In ceremonies beginning at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Mockbee will receive the award, then discuss the Rural Studio, his design philosophy and several of his own buildings. Reservations are required and can be made by calling the museum at 202-272-2448. The fee is $10 for museum members, $14 for nonmembers, and $7 for students.

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