Great Southern Wood Presents PBS Documentary


Film celebrates the legacy of Auburn architect Sambo Mockbee

ABBEVILLE, ALA.--Great Southern Wood Preserving, Incorporated is proud to be the presenting sponsor of a documentary that premiered Monday night, August 23 on PBS stations across the nation.

Auburn University’s School of Architecture, the Rural Studio program and one of its founders, the late visionary architect Samuel “Sambo” Mockbee, were the focus of the documentary, “Citizen Architect: Samuel Mockbee and the Spirit of the Rural Studio.”

The film is an hour-long look at Sambo Mockbee’s radical educational design/build program that allows architectural students the opportunity to do much more than design a building.

The Rural Studio is set up in Hale County, Alabama, one of the poorest areas in the state. The documentary follows Auburn’s architectural students as they get to know “clients” who don’t fit the stereotypical idea of someone who would ordinarily have the chance to work with an architect. Whether it’s the “Music Man” who has a passion for old radios and R&B music, or the Hale County Volunteer Fire Department, the students spend time getting to know the people they will work with, and using ordinary materials in extraordinary ways, they design and build something to meet the needs of those people.

Jimmy Rane and Sambo Mockbee first formed a friendship in the early 1960s when the two young men were attending Marion Military Institute in Marion, Alabama. Since the beginning of the Rural Studio concept, Jimmy and Great Southern Wood have enthusiastically supported the program in a number of ways, including the donation of building materials for use in the program. Great Southern Wood has also helped fund much of the work that went into the production of the documentary so it could be shared with a broader audience.

“Sambo’s vision to enhance the lives of others through his profession was contagious,” said Jimmy Rane. “We’re proud to be the presenting sponsor of a documentary that shares Sambo’s spirit and passion and the unique way he used it to help others.”

Sambo Mockbee passed away in December of 2001 from leukemia complications, but interviews recorded earlier by Mockbee’s son-in-law, Sam Wainwright Douglas, provided an insightful look into Sambo’s philosophy that we all deserve “shelter for the soul.” Through Sambo’s words, he shares his passion for pushing students at the Rural Studio to develop in ways that would not be possible in a typical academic setting.

“Citizen Architect” will continue airing on PBS and screenings are scheduled throughout the country. For more information on the documentary, visit