9. Samuel Mockbee #105architecturalinspiration

Samuel “Sambo” Mockbee

December 23, 1944 – December 30, 2001

At a time in my professional development where I was questioning my purpose in the industry, I found an architect that changed my future. I attended a lecture at the University of Virginia given by an architect named Samuel “Sambo” Mockbee.


From the website www.samuelmockbee.net:

Samuel Mockbee sincerely believed that everyone deserves a warm space to eat, sleep, play and live in dignity. Driven to make life better for  the residents of underserved communities in the deep South, Mockbee intended to break down the modern interpretations of architecture. “Architecture has to be greater than just architecture. It has to address social values, as well as technical and aesthetic values. On top of that, the one true gift that an architect has is his or her imagination. We take something ordinary and elevate it to something extraordinary.”


Hearing his words, seeing his passion, and then learning more about his work – my career path changed. I started asking different questions about design, looking for different kinds of answers, and hopefully “doing good” – which was one of his primary goals of design. Mockbee taught me that we have power as an architect that must be used to create better solutions (social and aesthetic) for your clients and the community. You have to understand place and time and show compassion to truly design. Architecture is more than just aesthetics, it is compassion, love, and empowering for those engaged in your solution.


#105architecturalinspirations is a collection of architectural details, buildings, and spaces that inspire me. I am taking on the challenge of finding two projects to spotlight each week in 2015. Hopefully I will be able to keep up and this process of discovery will push me to create better design solutions for my clients as I research and learn more about those projects I enjoy most. I challenge you to add your comments below about this project and to post your own inspirations for all to enjoy. 

Full List of previous #105architecturalinspiration posts

1. Jefferson’s Academical Village

2. Charleston, South Carolina

3. Solar Decathlon

4. National Museum of the American Indian

5. Lighthouses

6. Hatch Show Prints

7. The Aqua Tower in Chicago

8. Chicago Theatre Marquee

17 Comments Add yours

  1. Marvin Kemp says:

    Having gone to school at Miss State at the time Sambo was practicing in Mississippi, I was fortunate enough to hear him lecture and jury projects on numerous occasions. He’s probably the most original designer and person I’ve ever met. When he died, our profession was left with a void that it has yet to completely fill.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. He changed my direction in one lecture – would have loved to know him better.


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