Archived Projects

2023 Pig Roast

Another two-dayer is in the books! We started Pig Roast weekend on Friday, April 28, in the Project Horseshoe Farm Courtyard in Greensboro, AL. We began with a scrumptious meal, a collaboration between Mo Kitchen of The Stable and Sarah Cole of Abadir’s. The Stable provided tasty wraps, and Abadir’s the viabrant and zingy salads and sweet desserts, including their famous sprintime coconut cake. Sorry, Mo, the wraps were outstanding, but the Sarah’s flowers and petals visually stole the show, especially on the chopped greens and chickpeas AND the strawberry cobbler with lavender biscuits!

Seven alumni PechaKucha-style lectures followed the meal. Our speakers, spanning 12 years at Rural Studio:
• Mary Melissa Taddeo, ’12, Auburn, AL
• Chris Currie, ’10, San Antonio, TX
• Jamie Sartory, ’10, San Antonio, TX
• Evan Forrest, ’09, Chicago, IL
• Rob White, ’04, Nashville, TN
• Patrick Nelson, ’03, Birmingham, AL
• RaSheda Workman, ’00, Tuscaloosa, AL

And then . . . great music by Louis V to dance by.

On Saturday morning at 8:30, we gathered at Morrisette House to set out on our journey behind a Ford pick-up truck regaled in American and Auburn flags. The tour of projects included five in progress and several research initiatives, with a break in the middle back at Morrisette for a delicious lunch prepared by Rural Studio’s own Catherine Tabb and Doris Ward. Attendees heard the latest updates on the Front Porch Initiative from the team—Rusty Smith, Mackenzie Stagg, Betsy Farrell Garcia, & Christian Ayala—and toured and caught up on progress on Rural Studio Farm with Eric Ball. Emily McGlohn gave a rousing presentation on the new Wastewater project in Newbern.

Below is the rest of the rundown:

Projects presentations and clients
• C.H.O.I.C.E. House. 5th-year team of AC Priest, Davis Benfer, Hailey Osborne, and Yi Xuan (Raymond) Teo. Client: Emefa Butler of C.H.O.I.C.E. (CHOOSING to HELP OTHERS In our COMMUNITY EXCEL)
• Patriece’s Home. 5th-year team of Adam Davis, Daniel Burton, Laurel Holloway, and Lauren Lovell. Client: Patriece Gooden
• Rural Studio Bathhouse. 5th-year team of Carla Slabber, Ambar Ashraf, Ashley Wilson, and Logan Lee. Client: Morrisette Campus.
• 18×18 House. 5th-year team of Naomi Tony-Alabi, Jake Buell, Meagan Mitchell, and Julie DiDeo. Client: Detyrick King
• Rosie’s Home. Spring 3rd-year team of Canon McConnell, Trenton Williams, Junting Song, Finn Downes, and Lucas Henderson. Client Rosie and Frankie

Presentations of classes’ semester-long work
• History and Watercolor Class by Dick Hudgens
• Woodshop Class by Steve Long

We arrived back to Morrisette House for dinner led by Newbern’s fire trucks and the roasted pig! This year’s dinner and graduation ceremony was moved from Bodark Amphitheater to Morrisette House due to impending thunderstorms. (Thanks to our team for swiftly switching venue locations on the fly!) Saturday evening featured Newbern Mercantile’s famous fried catfish and barbecued pork—it is Pig Roast, after all—and all the sides (of course!), with everyone kicking back to live tunes, first from the young performers of the Blues School Graduate Band and then the stylings of Debbie Bond Blues Band featuring Debbie Bond, “Radiator” Rick, Earl “Guitar Williams, Marcus “Jukeman” Lee, and Jonathan Schwartz.

The ceremony introductions began with Joe Lee Hamilton, Hale County Commissioner; Ben Farrow, Associate Dean of Academic Affairs and International Programs for Auburn University College of Architecture, Design and Construction; and Justin Miller, Head of Auburn University School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture.

It was our pleasure to honor special guests Melissa Foster Denney and Bobby Scott. We were delighted to have Frank Harmon from Frank Harmon Architects in Raleigh, NC, to give this year’s graduation speech. And it was with pride and sweet tears that we congratulated our graduating 5th-year students: Ambar Ashraf, Ashley Wilson, Carla Slabber, Jake Buell, Julie DiDeo, Logan Lee, Meagan Mitchell, Naomi Tony-Alabi. Huge congrats, folks: you poured your hearts into your work and earned those degrees!

As tradition requires, “Whiffle Dust” shot from the Spencer family’s cannon, and fireworks rose to their heights behind Morrisette House.

We couldn’t have Pig Roast without our outstanding local sponsors! We’d like to thank Alabama Power; BDA Farm; City Furniture; Greensboro Pie; Hale County Hospital; Harvest Select Catfish; NAPA Auto Parts; Parker Tire & Muffler; People’s Bank; Reynold’s Electric; Sweetbriar Tea & Coffee; Blue Shadows B&B; Dozier Hardware; Greensboro Depot; Holmstead Company; M&M Mustang; Newbern Mercantile; The Partridge Berry; Seale, Homes, Ryan, LLC; Stillwater Machine; the Smelley family; The Stable; Citizens Bank; Mosley Feed and Seed; Greensboro Nutrition; Superior Metal Works; Clary’s Country Market; Patrick Braxton; and Wood Fruitticher!

If you couldn’t get out here to Newbern this year, check out blog posts from each team here.

Thanks to everyone for your support! #WarEagle

Cheers to the Moundville Pavilion students!

We celebrated the current Moundville Archaeological Park Community Pavilion team at a special dinner with Rural Studio students, staff, and faculty. A beautiful meal was made by Sarah Cole of Abadir’s, with produce from our Rural Studio Farm.

The Moundville Archeological Park Community Pavilion project has been in the Studio for the last five years and was explored by two 5th-year teams. Both teams brought intellectual curiosity, hard work, and deep respect for the cultural treasure that is Moundville, and both teams had to manage circumstances beyond their control. The first team, graduates from 2019, had to halt construction due to the constraints of the COVID pandemic. The second team, who inherited the partially built project, recently learned the project was canceled.

On Friday evening we feted these remarkable students: Brenton Smith, Caitlyn Biffle, Jackie Rosborough, and Collin Brown. We toasted the care, insight, grit, and maturity of the team through the arc of the project. While the first team gave them an excellent start, the second team was able to approach it with fresh eyes. They critiqued and built upon previous decisions, taking time to understand the structure without fear of revising elements that could be improved. They preserved the project intentions as a place for teaching and holding events, and as a gathering space for Moundville Archaeological Park, its campers, and other visitors. Their goal was to have the Pavilion be modest and quiet, preserving the character of place, but also delightful, reflecting and disappearing into the landscape with the ceiling as a new sky. Above all, they too served the client with great love and respect for the place, recognizing its incredible significance, beauty, and meaning.

We were delighted to have Emily Lopez, of the first team, join the festivities. The many miles between Newbern and California (for Lauren Ballard) and Harvard University (for Katie Cantine and Sarah Page) kept the rest of the team from joining us in person, yet they sent messages of support.

We are immensely proud of our students’ thoughtful and careful designs, their collaboration, their intellectual curiosity, and more than anything their poise: the first team’s composure in handling the pandemic pause and the second team’s respect and maturity in handling the close of the project. These graduates will not have beautiful Tim Hursley photographs to complete their portfolios, but they will always carry the skills, insight, and respect that they cultivated over their time with Rural Studio and the Moundville Archaeological Park Community Pavilion.

Bravo, teams! Thank you for honoring us with your abilities and grace!

Make A List, Check It Twice

Welcome to Summer in blazing Hale County, Alabama! The heat and humidity have set in and the team is hard at work preparing to break ground. Before we can start, we have a few things to smooth out: details, deconstruction, and a mock-up. 

The next steps are to begin expanding the current foundation footings and replacing the columns. First, we will need to deconstruct some of the pavilion as it currently stands. In order to understand the deconstruction/reconstruction process better, we have created a storyboard of the process, sketching out each step, while also showing where each piece of equipment will be on site at each stage.

students working
The team sketching out the construction process

In preparation, we have been regularly meeting with our structural engineer, Joe Farruggia, to finalize structure calculations. We also recently met with JAS Design Build (Seattle, WA) to get feedback on the framing model that we have been utilizing to understand the process of framing our structure and had a visit from architect Dan Wheeler (Chicago, IL).

Meeting with the JAS Design Build team about framing strategies

JAS Design Build’s team confirmed that we are on the right track and offered some suggestions on how to manage a cantilever using lookouts that extend out to help reach the “knife’s blade edge” detail. Meanwhile, Dan challenged us to study how the steel skirt at the base of the column will come together and how the lighting design of the base relates to the overall concept.

Reviewing designs with Dan Wheeler

Soon we will construct a large-scale mock-up (which is a right-of-passage here at Rural Studio) that helps the team practice details at a one-to-one scale. We have begun to finalize the details of the finished roof and ceiling materials. The mock-up gives us an opportunity to test the metal and new details, while also practicing pouring concrete footings, building a column, and testing lighting.

Tune back in next time for an update from the team. Until then, stay hydrated, it’s hot out here!

New Leftovers in Hale’s Kitchen

Howdy from the Moundville Pavilion team! Recently, we were on a nonstop train ride as our final official semester of college came to a close with Pig Roast festivities, Executive Reviews, and graduation. And soon, construction will begin! Woohoo!

Pig Roast

Presenting our boards at Pig Roast on the site behind the pavilion

Rural Studio’s Annual Pig Roast was a hit! The team presented the final design to friends, family, and alumni. Thank you to all who came out and celebrated with us and a very special shout-out to Hank Koning and Julie Eizenberg for speaking at our Pig Roast graduation ceremony.  

Posing in our “I love Rural” Pig Roast shirts
Section drawings explaining the pavilion’s relationship to the surrounding campgrounds

Executive Review Part 2

Following Pig Roast, the team had their final Executive Review with Justin Miller, Rusty Smith, David Hinson, Emily McGlohn, and Judith Seaman. The reviewers provided much-needed feedback to help move the project forward as we prepare for construction.

Discussing the details of the pavilion roof and ceiling

Moving Forward

In addition to all the celebration and reviews, the team has been meeting with the Studio’s structural engineer, Joe Farruggia, to finalize the column design, and Bill Zahner, of Zahner Architectural Metals, for some advice on aluminum panel systems that are appropriate for our ceiling and roof.

We graduated!

We’re officially Auburn alumni!

See ya next time! 

Sincerely,

Official leftovers of Hale’s Kitchen.

This Little Light of Mine

April has arrived which means the heat is beginning to creep into sunny afternoons, pollen has layered every outdoor surface, and the Moundville Pavilion Team is making decisions. In recent weeks, we have met with visiting architects and lighting consultants and have begun to get into the nuts and bolts (literally and figuratively) of how to detail the elements of the pavilion

Open for Spring

After Executive Review, we started to find a middle ground between the form and function of the column design. We had Pete Landon and Cameron Acheson from Landon Bone Baker Architects out of Chicago, IL, out for a review of the team’s work.

detailed drawing of ceiling panels
We sketched the prefabricated ceiling panels.
The column tapers out to 12″ and then meets a steel skirt that emerges from the ground.
The team discussed the tapered column mockup with Pete and Cameron.

They helped the team focus on the longevity of the roof surface; since the pavilion will reside in a heavily forested area, a durable surface is critical to withstand decomposing pine straw and potentially fallen branches.

This rendering shows the family of tapered wood columns and the steel skirts below.

Turning on the Lights

Since the pavilion is located in the campground and the space will likely be inhabited after dusk, the team has been researching lighting strategies in order to provide safety and usability at night.

The team sketched how the steel skirt could be used for lighting and electrical.

In addition to modeling some hidden fixtures options, the team met with lighting designer, Thomas Paterson (Lux Populi in Mexico City, Mexico) who explained possible lighting methods that can relate to the concept. Most recently, we tested lighting schemes on-site.

testing lighting under pavilion
The team tested lighting under the ceiling mock-up using lamps.

After finalizing more details within the roof and ceiling structure, it was time to start working on a large-scale framing model. Next up, is the annual Pig Roast Celebration!