Inside the Rural Studio: The Responsibility of Citizen Artists and Designers

The Ontario College of Art & Design (OCAD) is pleased to present a free public lecture by Rusty Smith, Associate Director of the Rural Studio at the Auburn University School of Architecture, on Wednesday, January 23rd at 6:30 pm. Smith’s presentation is the second in the Faculty of Design Speaker Series, which will include talks later this year by Rafael Fajardo and Tali Krakowsky.

Rusty Smith is Associate Professor, Chair of the Program of Architecture, Associate Director of the Rural Studio, and Coordinator of the first-year program at the Auburn University School of Architecture in Alabama. He has also taught and lectured as a Distinguished Visiting Artist at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in the Department of Architecture, Interior Architecture and Designed Objects. He is a nationally recognized teacher and scholar and has received numerous awards including the 2005 American Institute of Architects National Teaching Honor Award and the 2003 American Institute of Architecture Students National Teaching Honor Award.

Smith is currently an independent consultant specializing in life safety, health and human welfare, He has practiced professionally since 1991 and has held the position of senior designer for a variety of internationally recognized architectural firms, including Perkins + Will and Hellmuth, Obata + Kassabaum (HOK).

The Rural Studio, a program of the Auburn University School of Architecture, was originally conceived as a method to improve the living conditions in rural Alabama and to include hands-on experience in an architectural pedagogy. It continues today as a vision of a process to make housing and community projects in one of the poorest regions of the nation.

The students who attend the Rural Studio expand their design knowledge through actually building what they have designed. Utilizing the concept of “context-based learning,” the Rural Studio asks the students to leave the university environment and take up residency in Hale County, Alabama. In doing so, the student joins a poverty-stricken region and “shares the sweat” with a housing client who lives far below the poverty level. The goal of this exercise is to refine the student’s social conscience and to learn first-hand the necessary social, cultural and technological concepts of designing and building. This exercise requires the collaboration of a practicing architect.

All are welcome to attend, and admission is free. The presentation takes place in the OCAD Auditorium at 100 McCaul Street, Toronto. There is limited seating available, so guests are advised to arrive early. The Ontario College of Art & Design is located at 100 McCaul Street in Toronto. For more information, please visit or call 416.977.6000.