Skip directly to content

Xavier Vendrell Steps In As Rural Studio’s Acting Director

Xavier Vendrell

While Director Andrew Freear is away on sabbatical, Xavier Vendrell has stepped in as Acting Director. In addition to filling Andrew’s very large boots, he will be working with Instructor Steve Long and the Fifth Year students on the latest 20K Home (20Kv21) and a new community center for historic Faunsdale, Alabama. We are delighted and honored to have Xavier on board and look forward to the work this year.

Xavier studied architecture in his native city of Barcelona, where he has been practicing architecture since 1983. His work embraces a range of scales from landscape architecture, urban design, public buildings, housing, and interior design.

In 1988, his office won the competition for the Poblenou Park in the Olympic Village of Barcelona and was involved in several other projects for the 1992 Olympic Games. Xavier won the FAD Award in 1997 for the Riumar School. He has also taught at the Barcelona School of Architecture (1990-1998).

He has lectured across Europe, the USA, and Latin America. He was Visiting Professor at Washington University, School of Architecture in St. Louis, Missouri between 1994 and 1996 and Visiting Professor at the School of Architecture, University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) between 1997 and 1999 as the Jens Jensen Visiting Professor in Landscape Urbanism. In August 2001, Xavier Vendrell was appointed Professor of Architecture at UIC, where he served five years as Director of Graduate Studies.

In 1999, Xavier founded Xavier Vendrell Studio Chicago/Barcelona, a collaborative practice of architecture, landscape, and design. Xavier’s works and projects have been published in numerous magazines and books, and he has presented in several exhibitions internationally. He was co-founder, in 1986, of A30 Edicions d’Architectura and has written numerous articles for Spanish journals.

Xavier visited Rural Studio for the first time in February 2002 and has been consulting for Rural Studio since 2005. In fall 2013, he began teaching full-time at the Studio, and in spring of this year Xavier accepted a full professor position. In his first year teaching here, he worked with the third-year students on Rose Lee’s and Jason’s homes in Footwash, Alabama. This exploration of building a compound of two adjoining 20K Homes offered the Studio an opportunity to test new details, bring color to the façade, and develop landscaping strategies.

For the past two years, Xavier and Instructor Alex Henderson have been working with our third-year students on the Rural Studio Farm. The Farm project, located on the Morrisette House property in Newbern, was initiated in 2010 to help the Studio live in a more local, self-efficient way. We strive to live more responsibly in our rural setting by understanding and using our land and facilities. With thoughtful design we can use these resources to increase our food and energy production, decrease our reliance on external resources, and reduce waste. The process requires that the entire campus is viewed and cultivated as a single working machine, a network of co-dependent systems.

Since Xavier has been directing the Farm, the students have completed: the Rural Studio Farm Storehouse, a 560-square-foot storage facility located adjacent to the 2010 Kitchen addition behind Morrisette House; the Greenhouse Workroom and Tool Shed; Morrisette Dogtrots; water collection systems powered by solar energy; making the Pods more efficient; and working on final elements of the greenhouse. This fall our third-year students installed the glass roof to the Greenhouse—we hope to have seeds started in the Seed House for the winter and spring growing seasons. Later this semester, we plan to remove the current main-entrance driveway to Morrisette campus, shifting to two entrances, one on each the south and north sides of the property. This spring we will start implementing the expansion of growing space with additional raised beds, in collaboration with the gardener, Eric Ball, Xavier has also been working with the staff on improving the Farm-To-Table systems.