Samuel Mockbee was an architect who erased the boundary between experimental design and social consciousness.
In 1993, Mockbee co-founded Auburn University’s Rural Studio, a program that combines the teaching of architecture with a commitment to public service. Each year, he brought students to rural Hale County, Alabama, one of the poorest regions in the United States, with more than 1,400 substandard dwellings. Under Mockbee’s direction, using such discarded objects as tires, scrap wood, and bottles as structural materials, the students consulted with local residents to produce architecture that challenges all convention in terms of methods, materials, and forms and is both functional and beautiful.
Mockbee was a partner in the firm of Mockbee/Coker and the Alumni Professor of Architecture at Auburn University. In 1989, he was elected to the American Institute of Architects’ College of Fellows. He served as a visiting professor in the schools of architecture and design at Harvard University (1996), the University of Virginia (1997), Yale University (1997), and the University of California, Berkeley (1998). He was posthumously awarded the American Institute of Architect’s Gold Medal in 2004.
Mockbee received a B.Arch. (1974) from Auburn University.