Author: RS 3rd-Year Team

The 3rd Month: 3rd-Year Edition

As the semester is beginning to wind down, the 3rd-year class has been very busy! We worked hard to finalize drawings and begin construction for Rosie’s Home. In our Woodshop Class, we spent lots of time in the shop finalizing ideas with our mock-up and getting started on Rosie’s kitchen cabinets. With our history seminar ending, we finished up our watercolors and visited some of our final houses.

Rosie’s Home

Since our last post, Rosie’s House has made a lot of progress. At the Halloween Reviews, visiting architects came to critique and help improve our design. It was not all business though, everyone came dressed up in their Halloween costumes (even the reviewers)!

With Halloween Reviews over and designs complete, we were ready to begin construction! We started construction by re-framing some of the exterior walls, windows, and doors. After the walls were nailed together, we raised and set them in place.

After our walls were up, we began to measure and place our ZIP System sheathing. The sheathing helped brace our walls to keep them nice and square during construction.

With our walls up and sheathing in place, we then turned our attention to the ceiling! First, we set up temporary supports to lift up our ridge beam. Next, we climbed up the scaffolding to nail the ridge pieces together. Soon the ceiling will be completely framed!

Woodshop Class

During our first week back from Fall break, we spent each night in the Woodshop cutting pieces, making jigs, and gluing and assembling to have our cabinet mock-up done by the following week. Our mock-up consisted of three drawers and two shelves. We divided up jobs and worked together to make the construction process go as quickly and smoothly as possible.

The following week, we met with our instructors, Steve Long and Judith Seaman, to review our mock-up process and design. From the mock-up, we decided to narrow our focus on the kitchen cabinets for this semester and noted ways to improve our construction process. We revised our drawings and made a weekly schedule to prepare for the final weeks of the semester.

Finally, in the last few weeks, we started by ordering, processing, and organizing our woods and materials. We have been working hard to plan, cut, and begin assembly on Rosie’s final kitchen cabinets. With most of our pieces cut out and three cabinet boxes assembled, we are excited to continue work on some wonderful cabinets for Rosie’s kitchen.

History Class

Recently in history class, we continued to tour historic Antebellum homes every week. Our focus has been shifting from sketching towards our final watercolor. This watercolor is 24″ x 30″ and depicts an elevation of different architectural details.

In October, we had the chance to tour Tasso Plantation in Orrville, AL. This house has an incredibly rare and intact wooden block wallpaper print. This print, “Banks of the Bosphorus,” depicts a panoramic view of minarets and waterways around the entire room.

The next week, we visited Carlisle Hall near Marion, AL. This grand house was designed by Richard Upjohn in the asymmetrical Italianate style.

The following week, we visited Old Cahawba, AL. On the site, some buildings remain of the abandoned town and foundations outline where others once stood. Outlined in steel is the original courthouse that once stood at the center of town. Rural Studio students disassembled and moved St. Luke’s Church back in the park many years ago.

We also visited Thornhill Plantation in Forkland, AL. This Greek revival house was once one of the largest plantations in the area. It sits atop a hill with 360-degree views of the property.

Stay tuned for next month’s blog to see our final class field trip to Mississippi!

The Second Month: 3rd-Year Edition

The month of September and beyond has been very busy! We have been working hard to finish up final designs and construction documents for Rosie’s Home, traveled with Dick Hudgens to some amazing houses for our History Seminar, and worked through iterations of cabinet details for Rosie’s kitchen in Woodshop Class.

Rosie’s Home

The 3rd-year class made a lot of progress on Rosie’s Home this month. We used the “atmospheres” from our last assignment and previous Rural Studio house materials to help us design different features for Rosie’s Home. We worked through new ways to implement storage, lighting, acoustics, and ventilation from these material studies.

While we designed these details, we had the opportunity to learn and help out with an ongoing project with a visiting team from University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill’s Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering. They are collecting public health data samples for the region on our very own Morrisette campus. During their visit, we collected soil samples to be tested in the UNC lab. This research corresponds to our study of healthy materials and how we at Rural Studio can maximize the health of the systems we supply to our clients. Their studies opened our eyes to how much a functional sewer system contributes to the health of a homeowner, and showed us why this is a problem that must be addressed in rural Alabama. 

Students looking at a septic system outside Red Barn

After a week of working on our details, we presented them to Rural Studio’s own Design-Build Manager, John Marusich. This review revealed to us that rather than making several smaller moves to provide Rosie with solutions for storage, lighting, acoustics, and ventilation, we could make one large move to accomplish all four: manipulation of the ceiling plane.

With this idea in mind, we split into four teams. Each team designed the ceiling profile in a different way to enhance the four previously defined elements. In this design process, we presented our ceiling proposals to our Seattle visitors, Kim Clements and Joe Schneider from JAS Design Build, Jake LaBarre from Miller Hull, the Front Porch Initiative team, and our director Andrew Freear. All of these voices helped us to be more practical and intentional with our decisions. Through this iteration and review process, we found our one big move: vaulting the social space in the home.

Most recently, we began the study of the vault in full-scale format. The first step was drafting 1” = 1’ scale details to study the framing of the vaulted space. Using these details, we created three different mock-up versions. We then built these mock-ups on site in their potential locations. Being able to see their spatial effects in person helped us understand what this vaulted space would truly feel like and how it would change the atmosphere of the space.

drawn details pinned up
Full-scale detail pinup

Wrapping up before Fall Break, we hosted Rural Studio faculty and the 5th-year students on site for a mock-up review. They offered a lot of great feedback and helped us move forward with a clearer design intention. We are so excited to start construction when we get back from break!

Woodshop Class

The 3rd-year class has been designing Rosie’s kitchen and utility space cabinetry this semester. To start, we split into three designated teams: Upper kitchen cabinets, lower kitchen cabinets, and utility storage for the bathroom and laundry room. In our designs, we are focusing on functionality as it relates to our housing affordability research, accessibility for our client, and healthy materials continued from our studio study. While we worked on our designs, Keith and Dylan Cochran of Wood Studio, in Fort Payne, AL, visited Rural Studio to give us a critique of our progress and a demonstration on cabinetry assembly. This workshop demystified the process of creating a functional system of cabinets.

With each group’s cabinet design in the works, we began a mock-up to test important moments and details. We have been finalizing the dimensions and discussing our design of our mock-up model with our professors Steve Long and Judith Seaman. We are so excited to begin constructing our mock-up after Fall Break and ensure the design is successful for Rosie’s Home!

History Seminar

Throughout the past month, we have been to several Antebellum-era houses with our professor, Dick Hudgens. Each week, we tour the home, learn about its characteristic architectural and construction features, and then complete the day by sketching a portion of the home. Dick has been helping us to improve our sketching abilities each week. He teaches us how to correctly proportion a subject and to go from light to dark with our pencils as we draw.

Students sketching an elevation
Students sketching an elevation of Gaineswood

The first week in September, we visited Magnolia Grove in Greensboro which is about 10 miles north of Newbern. Magnolia Grove contains a detached kitchen in the rear, typical of the era. The columns are crooked because the bricks of lower quality refused for the main home were used for the service outbuildings. We sketched the kitchen and cook’s quarters and the front elevation of the home.

The following week, we drove to Demopolis and visited Bluff Hall and Lyon Hall on the Black Warrior River. At Bluff Hall, we learned about brightly colored paints and the immense wealth that existed in this small town. We sketched a historic quarters of enslaved people, a building that rested on the bluff near the main home, contrasting human injustices to the aforementioned wealth of the area. At Lyon Hall, we had the chance to go on the roof and look out over the city of Demopolis. Lyon Hall also features an old family Bible with historical records of the Lyon family that go back several generations.

Students at the top of Lyon Hall
We climbed to the top of the crow’s nest at Lyon Hall in Demopolis

Recently, we traveled to the Jemison-Van de Graaff Mansion in Tuscaloosa. We learned about gasoliers and rich-colored rugs. We sketched an exterior elevation of the home.

This week, we traveled back to Demopolis and visited Gaineswood. Gaineswood was unlike the other houses we have visited and is unique in Alabama. Gaineswood started as a simple dog-trot cabin, but its owner and architect, Nathan Bryan Whitfield, transformed this home into a grand example of Greek Revival architecture. We studied its expansion throughout the decades and looked at its complex roof lines.

In addition to having us travel to and study these historic homes, Dick also assigned us a new watercolor project. This semester, we are charged to make our own natural watercolor pigments from regional sources. To kick-start this, local textile artist Aaron Sanders-Head, of Greensboro, came to Morrisette Campus to help us extract our pigments. After we had a dynamic palette of colors, Dick assigned us to paint a tree to practice our watercolor techniques. We will continue our watercolor activities in the next couple weeks to prepare for our final watercolor project, a Beaux-Arts painting of a construction detail.

Stay Tuned

We are looking forward to starting construction on Rosie’s site in the next couple days and for the Halloween Reviews in a few weeks. Stay tuned to see our progress and what our costumes will be!

The First Month: 3rd-Year Edition

Rural Studio welcomed eleven new 3rd-year students to campus this Fall. Before we could begin this semester’s work on Rosie’s Home, we partook in Rural Studio’s bi-annual Neckdown Week.

Among several projects around the area, we helped lay the foundation for the C.H.O.I.C.E. House project, provided maintenance on the Newbern Firehouse, helped with upkeep of our own campus and home, and power-washed and weeded the Safe House Black History Museum in Greensboro. Neckdown was the crash course in Rural Studio and Newbern.

Now that us 3rd-years have gotten thrown into the deep end of the goings on at Rural Studio, we can officially start our project: Rosie’s Home.

Welcome to Red Barn!

The 3rd-year class had a busy first few weeks in the Red Barn Studio. We started by getting to know our clients Rosie and Frankie. We created collages after meeting them to explore specific locations of the home.

While we were getting to know the clients, we had another project. We went to dollar stores and second-hand shops to pick up a variety of materials. Then we weaved, layered, and meshed the materials, and the result was funky–even for Rural Studio–and we’ve been known to do some weird stuff.

Pin-up of materials study in Red Barn

This project was a collaboration with the 4th-year Interior Architecture studio that is back on main campus in Auburn. In a Zoom meeting, we shared work from both studios including the materials, as well as our collages. Using all of the information and materials we previously organized, we teamed up (2-3 Rural Studio students and 2-3 main campus Interiors students) to explore how different materials might affect the atmosphere of Rosie’s Home.

Presenting to the Interiors Studio in Auburn from the Red Barn

Most recently, we began a study of all the previous 20K Homes. Looking at all the materials that make up the walls, we began to research their qualities, such as healthfulness, energy efficiency, and cost. We then presented our research and our work from previous weeks to visiting architects Cheryl Noel and Ravi Ricker of Wrap Architecture in Chicago.

Our reviewers offered a lot of great feedback on our presentation, graphics, and research and we are excited to continue to progress our design for the interior of Rosie’s Home!

Woodshop Class

Along with our studio course, we take a Woodshop course and a History Seminar here at Rural Studio. Our Woodshop class will focus on creating cabinetry for Rosie’s Home. The first assignment was to study cabinetry, focusing on function, space, and material of typical cabinetry, as well as cabinetry and storage in past Rural Studio projects. The course instructors Steve Long and Judith Seaman began an introduction to the workspace consisting of rules and regulations, and how to use the equipment and tools in the shop. They also gave us a presentation on the history of wood in the state of Alabama and in the local area of Hale County. Finally, we are excited to start our first woodworking project: a cutting board!

History Seminar

The History Seminar is on Monday afternoons with our instructor, Dick Hudgens. We travel around the local area and surrounding counties to study the vernacular architecture in West Alabama with an emphasis on wood constructed Antebellum homes. In the most recent class, we visited Glencairn in Greensboro. It was completed in 1837 and the original owner was John Erwin. During the tour, we learned about almost every detail of the home from the handcrafted cornices to the scrolls on the furniture. In order to study the intricate details of the home, we sketched the interior of the front door and surrounding trim work and the exterior elevation of the building. 

White Antebellum style home front elevation.
Glencairn Exterior

Stay tuned this semester!

That’s a Wrap

Our spring 2021 3rd-year students finished off their time at Rural Studio with a bang! The last couple of months in Hale flew on by, taking nine students away with them.

History Class

As the semester wrapped up, so did the seminar with their professor, Dick Hudgens. Students toured a few more pre-civil-war homes and Dick held final reviews for the students’ work. Out on the Spencer House front porch, each member of the class presented three months’ worth of sketches from house tours, watercolor work, and historic housing “Design Problems.” Thanks to Ian Crawford for attending the review and providing his wise-as-ever advice and expertise!

Shop Class

Students worked diligently until the very last hour, oiling and installing cabinets. Plywood cabinets finished with tung oil and paste wax were designed and built this semester for the following spaces in Ophelia’s new home: the kitchen, nook, utility room, bathroom, and bedroom. That’s a lot of cabinets! Nineteen, to be exact.

Cabinets are nearly ready for use!

Yes, they also built a house!

During the past few months, a lot happened at Ophelia’s Home. The remaining pieces of ZIP System sheathing were nailed into place by the Enclosures Team; Ashley, Juyeon, and Logan. Then windows, doors, and joints were meticulously taped.

After Ophelia chose a siding color—burgundy—the team got to work installing the corrugated metal cladding. By the end of the semester, these three students of the Enclosures Team were mastered cutting and installing metal panels.

a group of people gather to watch a woman present some color options
Pick a color, any color.

Remember those funky exterior design charrettes? The ones considering tricks-of-the-eye and optical illusions? Well, those design discussions came to fruition during siding installation. The metal corrugation runs in two directions, which helps enhance a new proportion on the front faces while disrupting the front corner of the house.

a view of a burgundy house in a big yard with a green-colored house in the background
Where does the porch wall terminate? You may never know.

The MEP (Mechanical, Electrical, and Plumbing) Team—James, Kirby, and Wendy—spent their days putting together the many parts and pieces that give a house running water and power. These three students installed the entire MEP system for Ophelia’s Home from scratch! Because there’s so much that goes into these systems, they spent a whole lot of time driving to Lowe’s and back… and to Lowe’s and back again.

two students load a cart with pvc pipe in a hardware store
Gotta have plenty of pipe

While MEP and Enclosures Teams were working away, the Interiors/Rough Framing Team–Austin, Drew Haley, and Sadie–was steadily constructing the back stoop and front entrance to the house. They also put the finishing touches on the inside of the house. First, they tackled the back stoop: digging holes for three posts, constructing a platform, decking the platform, and building the stairs.

a set of wooden stairs lead to the door of a partially-clad house
Dang, that’s a nice lookin’ stoop.

The team then moved inside and recruited help from members of the MEP Team to paint the walls and ceiling and install laminate flooring.

a woman kneels over flooring boards while she hammers the pieces together
Tap, tap, tap

For Ophelia’s front entrance, this team built the formwork for and poured the concrete ramp! Many thanks are due to Andrew and Steve for helping with the ramp’s design and construction.

Ophelia’s Home: All Ramped Up

Pig Roast

The semester concluded with an “in-house” celebration of the Studio and the incredible body of work accomplished this year. We’ll miss these students dearly, and hope they return to Hale again soon (5th-year, perhaps?). Once a part of Rural Studio, always a part of Rural Studio.

Bye for now!

1st-Year Students Visit Rural Studio to Construct ‘Things for Sitting’

Auburn University 1st-Year architecture students graced Rural Studio with fresh faces and eager spirits. Main campus professors Alyssa Kuhns and Gorham Bird organized a wonderful project for the students which culminated in a drive to Newbern and a day of fabrication at the Morrisette Campus. The experience was a blast for Rural Studio faculty and students. Let’s get into how the 1st-Years studied, designed, and made their, ‘Things for Sitting’.

an aerial view of students and faculty using power tools together under a large wooden pavilion
Mid-day construction madness

In Studio Preparation

The 1st-year students began the ‘A Thing for Sitting’ project by studying iconic benches, chairs, and stools. Next, they developed highly crafted 1:5 models and rendered drawings of their assigned iconic ‘thing for sitting’. After this study, in groups, they developed their own ‘thing for sitting’ inspired by what they studied. First, each student individually developed joinery studies connecting planar or linear elements. Those studies were combined to create a group assembly.

The joints and resulting assembly or ‘thing for sitting’ were developed through full-scale cardboard mock-ups, 1:1 drawings, and storyboards to ensure students were working within the material, tool, and process limitations. With approved designs and drawings, they piled into cars for a Saturday caravan to the Rural Studio Morrisette Campus.

a large group of students watch as a male professor demonstrates how to use a table saw
Steve Long demonstrates how to safely use power tools

Welcome to Newbern

The 1st-Years have arrived! The day started with a thorough introduction to the proper use and safety precautions of basic power tools. Steve Long taught the lesson with demonstrations from the ongoing projects’ tool trailers. That’s right, these 1st-Years took on the task of making beautiful objects, not in the illustrious Rural Studio woodshop. Instead, they worked “on-site” at the Fabrication Pavilion with construction-grade tools. With safety training completed, the 1st-Years began practicing with several faculty members and students to keep watchful eyes and dole out advice.

After a little power tool practice and a big lunch from Chef Catherine, the 1st-Years began making their objects. First, they fabricated their pre-designed joints using 2″ x 4″ Southern Yellow Pine lumber and plywood. They also had access to all the tools the trailers have to offer and their own personal Rural Studio student.

Making a ‘Thing for Sitting’

When the students completed their own joint, it was time to fit it together with the rest of their teams’ pieces to create the full ‘Thing for Sitting’. To make the parts come together as one took adjustments to the individual joints and sometimes the entire design. Thankfully, Faculty members Chelsea Elcott, Steve Long, Emily McGlohn, and even Andrew Freear joined in to right all the wrongs and problem solve. In just 5 hours of intense work, every single 1st-year team created a ‘Thing to Sit’ which stood entirely on its own. Even more impressive, every single object was sit-able! No splintering under pressure here.

The day ended with a gathering of students and fabricated objects on the Great Hall. Each student team spoke about their objects’ inspiration and aspirations. Mostly, they spoke of what they learned. Everything from communicating with team members to how difficult it was to take it from drawing to reality. “Things don’t just fit together as you drew them!” Learning typical design-build lessons early. Overall, everyone gained confidence in using tools and fabrication. Hopefully, some of them caught the Rural Studio bug!

Rural Studio faculty and students were impressed and proud of the 1st-Year students’ final product as well as their journey to it. Check out their lovely ‘Things for Sitting’ above! A big thanks to professors Alyssa Kuhns, Gorham Bird, and David Kennedy for planning the day and bringing the 1st-Years over to Hale County. Come back and visit soon!