Author: Meagan Mitchell

Hale-oween

Students and faculty in costume

Here in Hale County, Halloween is the time to work hard and play hard. This year was no different, with a week full of pumpkins, presentations, and of course, costumes. We started the week early, with carving and displaying pumpkins at Red Barn on Tuesday evening. Friends and families from town came to join in on the fun too!

After a long week of rushing to finish costumes and drawings, our students presented for Halloween Reviews on Friday. We had familiar faces return this year, including Marlon Blackwell from Marlon Blackwell Architects; Emilie Taylor Welty, Director of Architecture at Tulane University and Design-Build Manager of the Albert and Tina Small Center for Collaborative Design; Emily Neustrom from Material Institute; and the Front Porch Initiative’s Rusty Smith, Betsy Farrell Garcia, and Mackenzie Stagg. We also hosted visitors who came a long way to see the work: Kent Hicks from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Kelly Gregory all the way from San Francisco. Our good friends Timothy and Jeanie Hursley surprised us with a visit and a quick photoshoot of the special day. We can’t wait to see those images soon!

Of course, everyone was dressed for the occasion. Costumes are a must on review day!

To end the day and the week, students and visitors showed off their costumes for each other and our friends in town. This year was tough competition, but Logan Lee was named as pumpkin carving winner, and Rural Studio Bathhouse team won with their Toilet-Trees costumes. Thanks to the Newbern Library and the Newbern Mercantile for wonderful judges and prizes! Check back in on team blogs to see how students move forward next!

Faculty posing in costume
The cast of Jaws and “Sam with SPAM”

Workshop Season in Newbern

The brand-new 5th-year class arrived in Newbern last month and got straight to work with this year’s lineup of Fall Workshops. We dove into two new projects, the 18×18 House and the Rural Studio Bathhouse.

Our first workshop visitor, friend, and consultant, Kiel Moe, is one of the new Professors of Practice specializing in mass timber at Auburn University School of Architecture, Landscape Architecture and Planning (APLA). Kiel helped us get our bearings on different types of mass timber, what it can do, and how we might use it to build a new bathhouse for the Pods, our dormitories on site at the Morrisette campus.

Two more APLA faculty, Assistant Professor Emily Knox and Associate Professor David Hill, joined us from Auburn, to dive into all things landscape architecture. They pushed us to think differently about what a “building” is and asked us to consider the broader site, with dirt and vegetation as space makers.

Next, we were put to the test by Cheryl Noel and Ravi Ricker, who visited from Chicago, Illinois, to help us specifically with this year’s house project. The house will only be 18 feet square, so we dug into the building code to understand what stairs can do for such a small house. Cheryl and Ravi asked us to mark out full-scale mock-ups of some of our best plan ideas, and afterwards we explored each one to see what the spaces might feel like.

Architect John Forney came from Birmingham, AL, to turn all preconceptions on their heads. He worked with us to really break apart the bathhouse project and think about how it may be situated across the Morrisette campus. John also challenged us to flip our 18’ x 18’ houses upside-down and see what switching the first- and second-floor program might do.

Our final visitors came all the way from Seattle, Washington! Kim Clements, Joe Schneider, and Jake LaBarre got into the details with us, drawing and sketching rapid-fire to round out our workshops. They helped us start to imagine what our projects might look like and how much space they’ll really take up by mocking up heights and imagining the vertical spaces.

Now we’re ready to get to work! Stay tuned for the next post when we introduce the teams and more details about the new projects!