AMES, Iowa — Rusty Smith, associate director of Auburn University Rural Studio, and Mackenzie Stagg, an assistant research professor and project principal for Rural Studio’s Front Porch Initiative, will speak about their work in a lecture at Iowa State University.

Smith and Stagg will present “Housing First! Rural Studio and the Front Porch Initiative” at 4 p.m. Friday, April 14, in Kocimski Auditorium, 0101 College of Design. Their talk is part of the Department of Architecture’s Spring 2023 Public Programs Series, “Ways of Working.”

Rural Studio is an internationally recognized, context-based service-learning program that focuses on sustainable rural living. To date, Rural Studio has educated more than 1,200 students and built more than 200 projects in the Black Belt communities of West Alabama.

Rural Studio’s current research focuses include housing access and affordability, efficient timber use, small-scale farming and access to clean water and air. Through the Front Porch Initiative, Rural Studio has expanded its housing research to work with partners throughout the Southeast to address rural America’s silent housing crisis.

About the speakers

A nationally renowned teacher and scholar, Smith has received the American Institute of Architects’ National Teaching Honor Award, American Institute of Architecture Students National Teaching Honor Award and Auburn University’s Creative Research and Scholarship Award.

Stagg has collaborated with Rural Studio in a variety of capacities: first as a student, then as an outreach instructor and now as a research professor. Through Rural Studio, she has taken part in the design and construction of 10 homes as well as several community-centered projects. Her work at Rural Studio has been intertwined with design work at organizations in Birmingham, Ala., Christiansburg, Va., and New Orleans.


Shelby Doyle, Architecture Associate Professor and Stan G. Thurson Professor in Design Build, doyle@iastate.edu
Peter Zuroweste, Architecture Associate Professor of Practice and Public Programs Committee Chair, peterz@iastate.edu
Heather Sauer, College of Design Director of Strategic Communications, hsauer@iastate.edu