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Beyond the shotgun shack: How architects are rethinking Southern buildings for the 21st century

Due to its history, its culture, and especially its climate, the American South has a unique architectural style. Too often, though, the buildings of the South are boiled down to stereotypes.

“It can either be the sharecropper shacks that were valorized by Walker Evans and James Agee or the white columned plantation mansions that are valorized in Gone With the Wind,” says Peter MacKeith, dean of the Fay Jones School of Architecture + Design at the University of Arkansas.

To broaden the perception of architecture in the South, particularly recent architecture, MacKeith has curated “A South Forty.” The new exhibition focuses on the work of dozens of architecture firms based in and working in a region not often associated with top-shelf contemporary architecture. But as the South faces increasing threats from extreme weather, sea level rise, and climate change, architects there are setting new standards for how architecture can help even small communities build for an uncertain future.

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