We are late getting this out because it has been tough to write and to find the appropriate words. Perhaps there are none.
On September 20, 2021, we lost our great friend and supporter Andrea Oppenheimer Dean. It’s fair to say that Andrea, with architectural photographer Timothy Hursley, brought Rural Studio and Hale County to the world. She gave Samuel Mockbee and D.K. Ruth the platform to start to challenge academia and the profession, initially with a feature in Architectural Record and then later with the three Rural Studio books.
I had the privilege of providing information for the first two books and then collaborating with Andrea and Tim on the third, Rural Studio at Twenty. To work with Andrea was a delight: She was professional, thoughtful, rigorous, and thorough—all laced with a gentle, slightly naughty sense of humor. She carefully crafted the prose in the book, happy to let the words play a supportive narrative to Hursley’s beautiful images, to let the photographs tell the story. As an astute editor, she skillfully shaped the bullet points I gave her into something legible and then insisted the writing use my voice. We thought it hilarious that this highly articulate, feisty, sharp, big-in-heart but small-in-stature lady should want to impersonate this lanky, gruff, occasionally foul-mouthed Yorkshire lump. As you can imagine, she cleaned up my words up a lot!
Andrea never sought the limelight, though she certainly was worthy of it. Her humility was counterbalanced by strength and fierceness. She was a well of kindness, understanding, and generosity.
It was one of life’s joys and honors to work with Andrea and spend time with her. The world of architecture and Rural Studio have lost a passionate, consistent supporter and advocate.
I have lost a beautiful friend whom I loved dearly.
— Andrew Freear