Interdisciplinary Team Publishes Award-Winning Style Guide for Rural Studio

Rural Studio Style Guide

The awards keep rolling in for the Rural Studio Style Guide, a publication that is the product of an interdisciplinary collaboration between Rural Studio, the College of Architecture, Design and Construction (CADC) and the College of Liberal Arts (CLA). This team effort has won several awards, including the University & College Designers Association’s (UCDA) Gold Award, its highest honor for design in the field of education.

The Rural Studio Style Guide is published on an annual basis and distributed to students and faculty working at Rural Studio who need to know about the program’s visual style, including color, typography and imagery, and writing style. It also contains information on the program’s history and philosophy. The style guide’s design team included two faculty members from CADC; Associate Professor Courtney Windham of Graphic Design was the publication’s graphic designer and Professor Margaret Fletcher of Architecture was the Information Designer. Rural Studio’s Natalie Butts-Ball served as Communications Manager, and Ed Youngblood, Professor of Media Studies in CLA, worked on Usability Testing. Associate Professors Michelle Sidler and Susan Youngblood, both of CLA’s English Department, served as the publication’s Technical Communications Director and Coordinator.

For her role as graphic designer on the publication, Windham was honored with one of only 13 Gold Awards given out of 775 print and digital submissions to UCDA’s annual awards. The project was named the Silver Award winner for the 2023 Graphis Design Awards and received the Professional Graphic Design Award from Creative Quarterly #67. The publication also won an Inhouse Design Award from Graphic Design USA.

This collaboration was made possible by a $1.25 million dollar grant from Auburn University’s Presidential Award for Interdisciplinary Research (PAIR) program. The three-year PAIR grant, awarded in the summer of 2018, was given with the intent of developing a suite of new informational materials, including a website, brochures and presentation materials, to help educate audiences about Rural Studio’s Front Porch Initiative. The goal of the Front Porch Initiative is to develop a scalable, sustainable and resilient process for delivering homes to under-resourced rural communities.

“When we first began working with the PAIR Communications Team on Rural Studio’s Style Guide, our goal was simply to be able to communicate about our work more precisely and clearly to a broad constituency and through a variety of authors and media,” stated Rusty Smith, Associate Director of Rural Studio. “Through this process, we actually came to ask more useful and more actionable research questions. In this way our work with the PAIR Communications Team continues to be instrumental in developing the partnerships, products and policies necessary to overcome the challenges to equitable and affordable homeownership for those in our country that need it the most but can afford it the least.”