Author: Meagan Mitchell

They’re Cutting Holes in the Walls!?

Cat perched on barrel

Hey there! That’s me—the barrel-diving black cat. So, I’m what you might call a new cat on the block. I’m just a few weeks old, and I live in Greensboro. That’s me there, on the barrel, looking for lunch.

And I’ve noticed some people who come around every day and do weird things. I think they call themselves “18×18” or some nonsense like that. Not too long ago, they went away for a while. And they left this thing they were working on. It looked like this…

Sheathed house

But they came back! And they’ve been cutting holes in the walls?! And now their “thing” looks like THIS…

Sheathed house with windows

I don’t know why they’d cut apart what they just made. But it looks like they follow the same steps every time. First, they cut out a hole…

Then they put extra nails around the hole…

Student using pneumatic nail gun

Then they put sticky stuff all around the edges. Two different KINDS of sticky stuff. It looks REALLY sticky.

After that, they put a piece of glass in the hole, over the sticky stuff. This part looks really complicated. They add little pieces of wood on the inside part of the glass, they see if its frame is level and square, and then they put just a couple nails in from the outside. But before they put more nails in, they open the piece of glass! It looks like they’re testing it.

They put in the rest of the nails, and THEN, to finish it off…they put even more sticky tape over the edges of the glass! I don’t know why they would need the hole to be sealed up so well. Nothing is ever going to get past that piece of glass!

I don’t get it, but they seem really excited about the holes in their project. They said one time that Pella Windows and Doors donated all of the windows for this house! That was so generous of the company. The team is feeling very thankful for that donation!

And you’ll never believe what they’ve started now! I gotta keep my eyes on these people. Even more weird stuff…

Rough plumbing in stud wall

A Neckdown to Rain-member

Student mixing soil

It’s that time of year again…time for Spring “Neckdown” Week! It was a damp week all around Newbern, but the weather didn’t slow us down. All of the students and faculty got their hands dirty helping out.

Around Morrisette House, the Farm got plenty of attention and preparation for the coming growing season. We pulled out cover crops, tarped beds in the field, and started seeds in the greenhouse when the rain caught up to us. The front fence even got a facelift!

Work on the Fabrication Pavilion was one of the biggest Neckdown tasks this semester. A rotating crew of students spent time reinforcing each column to get ready for the pavilion’s second phase. There was almost as much scaffolding as people on site…

Other spots around town got some love too! The model homes and Newbern Town Hall both had facelifts, with lots of cleaning and repainting all around.

Another one of the main (and muddy!) projects for the week happened at Perry Lakes Park. The park boardwalk now has brand-new boards in place, ready for anyone who wants to come visit.

Now that Neckdown is behind us for the semester, it’s time to really dive into the projects. Keep up with each team’s blog posts to see where this spring takes us!

People carrying lumber through woods

Topped Out, Drying In

The second half of the fall semester has flown by for the 18×18 House team!

Jake, Julie, Meagan, and Naomi have been flying through framing. Watching the house take shape from the second-floor walls, the gables, and the stair has kept the entire process exciting.

To build the house, the team had to design a couple of special elements to help with construction. As they moved up through the floors, they had to build temporary wall and floor structures. These gave the team platforms to stand and work on, and also helped support the habitable attic before the roof was framed.

Of course, framing the roof meant lifting the ridge beam into place! Naturally, a celebration was in order for the topping-out of the 18×18 House. But no time to slow down! Now come the dormer walls and rafters. Building the dormer was icing on the cake, something the team has been excited (and nervous?) about for a long time. But with it built, the house finally looks like they imagined!

Next comes sheathing. The 18×18 House is well on its way to being dried in for the holidays. The team isn’t losing steam as the semester ends, and the new year will bring new milestones! Watch out for the next 18×18 blog to see where 2024 takes them!

A Big Toast for Soup Roast

The end of the fall semester can only mean one thing in Newbern… Soup Roast!

The 2023 edition included plenty of showing and telling, from 3rd-years, 5th-years, and leftovers alike! The first day of Soup Roast included visits to the two current leftover project sites, the 18×18 House and the Rural Studio Bathhouse. Both teams got the chance to show visitors what they’ve been up to since they began construction.

The 3rd-year class has been busy this semester, and they were able to show off all of their hard work! At Rosie’s Home, they’ve completed exterior finishes, mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems, and are well under way with interior finishes.

students with clients

In the Woodshop and History classes, students made cutting boards, large-format watercolor drawings, and replicas of famous chair designs. All of these were on display for visitors and friends to see!

The 5th-year students stayed hard at work during Soup Roast. Both the CLT Core House and the Fabrication Pavilion teams presented their current work to visiting reviewers. Kim Clements and Joe Schneider from JAS Design Build, Jake LaBarre from Miller Hull Partnership, Jim Adamson from design-build firm Jersey Devil, artist and architect David Lipe, artist Victoria Haven, and architects Isabelle and Nick Robertson were all in Newbern to help keep the projects moving forward. The second day of Soup Roast celebrations brought workshops and more discussion about the 5th-year projects.

The semester came to a festive end, with a celebratory dinner, six PechaKucha-style lectures by our visitors, and a bonfire. Huge thanks to Kim Clements for making this fantastic meal for us! Check back in after the holidays to see what’s next for the current projects!

Neck-up, down, ALL around

This fall semester students really hit the ground running during “Neckdown” Week! There was so much to do, and so much done by the new crowd. On Morrisette campus, the RS Farm had helpers weeding, harvesting, and giving the crops some extra attention. The Great Hall got a fresh coat of paint, and the Fabrication Pavilion was emptied, cleaned, and reorganized to get ready for the new year.

Elsewhere in Newbern and Uniontown, even more painting! The town tornado shelter was thoroughly cleaned and repainted, and it looks better than ever. And after a new coat of paint, the Newbern Playground is now home to the official biggest pencil in West Alabama! In Uniontown, the C.H.O.I.C.E. House was getting final touch-ups as the team pushed to their finish line.

The week’s most important task was relocating all of our studio equipment from Newbern to Greensboro. This semester will be the first in a beautiful new studio building while Red Barn gets some updates. That means desks, computers, EVERYTHING was loaded up and taken out! Students and staff all pitched in to get the new studio ready for presentations, with pin-up boards hung and furniture arranged.

Of course, the week ended with a celebratory catfish lunch.

students and staff eating lunch

Everyone is excited to settle in as our 30th year of work begins! Stay tuned this fall to see 5th-year workshops, 3rd-year progress on Rosie’s Home, and leftovers getting in the ground for the RS Bathhouse and 18×18 House!