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Citizen Architect: Samuel Mockbee and the Spirit Of the Rural Studio

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  • Citizen Architect: Samuel Mockbee and the Spirit Of the Rural Studio

    In 1993 the late architect and MacArthur "genius" Samuel Mockbee started the Rural Studio, a design/build architecture program, in which students create striking architecture for impoverished communities in rural Alabama. Guided by never-before-seen interviews with Mockbee, the film shows how a group of students use their creativity, ingenuity and compassion to craft a home for their charismatic client, Jimmie Lee Matthews. Known within the community as Music Man because of his obsession with soul music, Jimmie Lee maintains a healthy zeal for life, blasting R&B from his vast collection of used stereos and boasting that he "ain't never met a stranger!" These relatively affluent, typically middle class students cross a threshold into Music Man's world to form a strong bond with a role model and friend -- someone they likely would not have met had they not left the comfortable university campus for rural western Alabama. The Rural Studio is about more than building. It is also about providing students with an experience that forever inspires them to consider how they can use their skills to better their communities. Interviews with Mockbee's peers and scenes with those he's influenced infuse the film with a larger discussion of architecture's role in issues of poverty, class, race, education, social change and citizenship. [56 minutes]

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