For 17 years, Freear has lived in the small rural community of Newbern, West Alabama, where he has directed Rural Studio and served as project advisor to fifth-year undergraduate students, designing and building charity homes and community projects to improve local conditions.

Freear has designed Rural Studio exhibits around the world, including at the Whitney Biennial, the Sao Paulo Biennial, the V&A in London, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and most recently at the Milan Triennial and the Venice Biennale.

In 2006 Freear was honored with The Ralph Erskine Award, from Sweden. In 2008 he was a Laureate in the second edition of the Global Awards for Sustainable Architecture in Paris and most recently he was awarded the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Architecture for 2016.