John Bielenberg’s Project M Returns to Its Roots


For the last few years, we’ve always been impressed by the young designers who reply “Project M” when asked what they did on their summer vacations. The small groups of designers picked for Project M have created a book at a Maine farmhouse, traveled to a protected forest in Costa Rica, drove an ambulance full of design supplies to New Orleans and started a foundation for a depressed area of East Baltimore.

This year, says founder John Bielenberg, they’re heading back to where Project M began: The Rural Studio of Auburn University, where architecture students build sustainable structures for the economically-depressed residents right in their own backyard. It’s also the place that inspired Bielenberg to start the whole M thing:

It’s incredibly inspiring to see the impact that these college “kids” have had on the communities in Hale County. Many of these projects have been well documented in books, magazines, films and exhibitions like the Whitney Biennale. However, I saw and felt something happening that has not been reported.

Because of the publicity and exposure these projects have received, Greensboro, the largest town in the area, has started to become a mecca for people who are aligned with the creative and altruistic values that were intrinsic to Mockbee’s original vision.

I think the area has reached a tipping point and is tilting towards an unexpected re-birth as a place where “do-gooders” go to do good.

Sound good? Apply here.