The University of Virginia in coordination with the Thomas Jefferson Foundation at Monticello has named Auburn School of Architecture professor and Rural Studio director Andrew Freear as the recipient of the 2023 Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal in Architecture.
With the win, Freear joins a list of names that includes Vincent Scully, I.M. Pei, Mies van der Rohe, Kenneth Frampton, Francis Kéré, David Adjaye, and Yvonne Farrell & Shelley McNamara as past recipients of the honor that was first established in 1966 in order to recognize those who best exemplify the spirit of its namesake in Architecture, Law, and Citizen Leadership.
“It is an honor to recognize Andrew Freear and Rural Studio’s hands-on architectural pedagogy that has significantly improved the living conditions for residents in rural Hale County, Alabama, and continues to support long-term wellbeing and regional sustainability in the area,” UVA School of Architecture Dean Malo A. Hutson explained. “We are inspired by Rural Studio’s commitment to cultivating students who are both local architects and citizens of the world — and its ability to help aspiring young architects address the ethical responsibility for the social, political, and environmental consequences of what they design and build.”
Freear has been involved in the Rural Studio since 2000. In that time, the design-build program has gone on to realize more than 220 community buildings, park projects, houses, and other structures across Hale County, Alabama while providing invaluable alternative educational experiences to over 1,200 students.
Outside of his work with the Studio, Freear has contributed to exhibition designs for the Victoria & Albert Museum, MoMA, the Venice Biennale, Whitney Museum of American Art, and more.
Freear said: “We are deeply humbled to have been selected for this distinction not just for the honor but for the light that it shines on rural America and society’s role in ensuring equitable, dignified communities.”
The medals will be presented during a special ceremony held April 13th (Jefferson’s birthday) from UVA’s historic Rotunda in Charlottesville.
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