Current Projects

I’m Floored

It’s been a minute since you’ve heard from the Patriece’s Home team.

We last left them in the middle of their window installation, and since then they’ve finished! The fenestrations definitely gave the home its facial features and the wonderful Pella-donated windows filled the interior with beautiful light. 

The team also installed the Pella-donated exterior doors. The doors have integrated windows to give the home even more exterior daylight and now the team can lock up the house when they leave for the day. 

With such lovely natural light, the team met with designer Thomas Paterson of Lux Populi again to finalize a complementary artificial lighting plan. The group selected fixtures and bulbs that won’t attempt to replicate daytime light but give a different type of warm cast and task light for differing interior program.

With the stairs complete, it was easier for the team to bring tongue-and-groove plywood to lay the subfloor within their attic truss. 

Once the subfloor was complete, the team could then finally finish their interior framing! The upstairs rooms have taken shape, and the team got very excited about the possibilities for flexible room at the top of the stairs. 

They also put half-inch plywood along the interior walls of the stairs to later attach a durable layer of tongue-and-groove cypress boards. With a surface to cast light on, the team got even more excited about the exterior light from the windows at the top and bottom of the stairs. 

With all the walls established, the group began looking toward wall fillers in preparation to enclose them with drywall (and with endless miscellaneous blocking). 

We enjoyed installing the downstairs shower and upstairs bathtub base. From there, the team began fitting together the PVC drain, water, and vent system to the stub outs connections from the main drain in the concrete slab. 

With the chunky PCV filling the walls, the group began routing flexible PEX tubing through the house. These water supply lines connect to their various fixture stub outs in the bathrooms and kitchen. 

Then it was time for electrical boxes and outlets to find their place in the wall. With the supervision of some expert help, the team installed the two electrical units. These separate outlet boxes offer the opportunity for power to be individually accessed and maintained. With all the wire strung, the house is ready to be plugged into the meter on the temporary power pole outside. Just like decorating for the holidays. We might as well: the house is already green. 

Speaking of holidays, Soup Roast snuck up on the team so fast! The four tidied up for the visitors and started the special day’s project tour with a quick presentation of their home. The crowd got to wander around the home. It’s safe to say it was well received! 

The team has a lot to be thankful for in their second holiday season at Rural Studio. The opportunity to build, the wonderful community that supports them, delicious food, and a home now ready for insulation and drywall! Check back here in the new year for more big updates on Patriece’s Home!

A Productive Year

An aerial shot of the farm taken from a drone that shows the many row crops growing and students working
Photo by Timothy Hursley

It has been quite an eventful year at Rural Studio Farm.

The morning sun in the summer greenhouse with workers busy tending crops
Photo by Timothy Hursley

With the start of the new academic year in the fall, we had to say goodbye to Jackie Rosborough, one of our student assistant managers.

An assistant manager stands with a shovel in front of the tool shed
Photo by Timothy Hursley

Jackie, along with our other assistant manager, Laurel Holloway, was an integral part of what made this year so successful. Though we are sad to see Jackie depart, we are thrilled to welcome a new student assistant manager, Ambar Ashraf from Atlanta, to our team!

In the spring, we began piloting our CSA program to students and staff, which delivered several hundred pounds of fresh seasonal produce, herbs, and flowers to members across 30 weeks.

The CSA allowed us to grow a wider variety of crops for the first time—many of which were very successful, like Chinese cabbage, kohlrabi, fennel, and shallots. It’s our hope that we can broaden the scope of the CSA’s membership for next year’s growing season to include the broader community of Hale County.

This past year, we also began working with the Black Belt Food Project and Project Horseshoe Farm to donate several hundred pounds of extra food to their produce stand, which runs on a “take what you want, pay what you can” model.

To help harvest for and run the produce stand, and to help with the farm in general, we welcomed two new Project Horseshoe Farm fellows, Lauren Widmann and Sonja Lazovic, who have succeeded past fellows Maggie Rosenthal, Ellie Hough, and Bess Renjillian.

The Farm also hosted two events this year: a local food and sustainable agriculture summit and dinner in March and the Food for Thought event in October (with the Newbern Library and the Black Belt Food Project).

Finally, our Farm Manager, Eric, began graduate school in Auburn in the fall, pursuing a degree in crop, soil, and environmental science. The Farm continues to thrive and expand, and the next year is going to be even more productive!

We Don’t Want to Freeze

Around these parts, Kermit isn’t the only green guy movin’ right along! Keep reading to see how our team’s been preparing the units to leap into winter.

main units viewed from street

First things first—both the units and the third volume are fully sheathed! Having a fully enclosed “shell” to work in offers a couple advantages: As it gets colder, we can focus our efforts inside the units and away from winter wind.

In addition, we’re planning to take a couple weeks off at the end of the year to celebrate the holidays and spend time with family, so having a waterproof layer of sheathing protecting our wood framing offers some peace of mind during our hiatus.

We also had the privilege of receiving our first big group of visitors since last May’s Pig Roast. Each December, current 3rd- and 5th-years present their work to external reviewers for an end-of-the-year critique. To kick off the day, students, faculty, reviewers, friends, and family alike caravanned to our site for a quick look at our headway. Some of our visitors hadn’t seen the project since it was still on paper, so it was exciting to share our progress.

AC presents to visitors

Getting right back to work, we installed the fascia and wrapped it with metal flashing. The width of the fascia gives the appearance of a thickened roof plane or “hat” that reveals itself under the porch as an assembly of thin layers. How’s that for a detail you can hang your hat on?

Moving inside, we poured both units’ showers. With those last two pours, all of our interior concrete is done. That means as soon as we return in January, we can dive right into framing our interior walls. 

Now, the team is signing off for a much needed break. Make good C.H.O.I.C.E.s, and we’ll see you all in January.

holiday card from the team

Eat, Drink, and Get Soup-Roasted!

Welcome back to the latest edition of the Rural Studio Bathhouse blog!

During the week before Thanksgiving, we welcomed Ann Marie Duvall Decker and Shannon Gathings from Duvall Decker Architects out of Jackson, Mississippi. They presented some of the amazing work they are doing and were an excellent help in providing meaningful feedback of our project. They really challenged us to think about the formal and sectional qualities of our building.

After Thanksgiving, we were hard at work preparing for Soup Roast. We prepared two, 2-bar schemes that explored the different placement options for the kitchen/dining space and the bathhouse, attached to a central accessible maintenance core. Both schemes consider the design of the entry sequence into the Supershed and leave a bay of the Supershed open next to the Breathing Wall Mass Timber Research Project pods for a possible future pod. More sectional ideas for the projects were explored as well, as one scheme looked at using a butterfly roof and the other looked at using a system of skylights. 

The team produced drawings for both schemes and made a full-scale painted out mock-up of one of the iterations to fully understand the spaces.

Drawing boards pinned to wall
The Soup Roast boards showing the two schemes

At Soup Roast, we welcomed back to Hale County some of our old friends, Kim Clements and Joe Schneider from J.A.S. Design Build and Jake LaBarre from Miller Hull in Seattle. We also welcomed Jim Adamson, Mike Freeman, Nicole Abercrombie, and Will McGarity, into the fold of our project. With the reviewers having an abundance of expertise in many different areas, the team was pleased to receive tons of excellent feedback.

Students and reviewers walk around site
The students and reviewers walked around the full-scale mock-up to understand the proposed spaces

After the roasting portion of the day was completed, the team was happy to get to relax and enjoy some delicious soup with friends and visitors!

One of the biggest concerns raised during the review, was the scale and scope of the project. The team spent the day after the review charretting through several ideas on how to reduce the overall size of our project. We have begun working on eliminating extra spaces within the plans and has also investigated the possibility of reusing existing structures on site to reduce the scope of the project. This will continue to be explored in the upcoming weeks as the team looks to settle in on a solution.

students present as reviewers watch
A final presentation of our ideas after the Soup Roast charrette

As this is being written, the team has left Hale County for winter break. This does not mean that the project is on pause. While we are not all together, we are still meeting online and working hard to continue the design process. 

Thank you so much for reading about our project and following along with us. We hope that everyone has a great holiday season, and we cannot wait to show our progress in the new year!

– Rural Studio Bathhouse Team 

Carla, Ambar, Ashley, and Logan

The 4th Month: 3rd-Year Edition

As the 3rd-year class moves into the end of the semester we’re working hard on our projects to finish strong in 2022. The Rosie’s Home team compiled construction document sets and began framing the roof. In the Woodshop, 3rd-years started final cabinet construction and drew up storyboards to help hand the project over to next semester’s 3rd-year class. Finally, our History Seminar wrapped up with one big final field trip to Columbus, Mississippi, to see some incredible houses of the Federalist and Greek Revival styles.

On Site Happenings

Things have been moving quickly on site at Rosie’s Home. Since raising the ridge beam, we began framing the rest of the roof. This started with the installation of the rafters at the correct pitch.

3rd-year students attach the roof rafters to the ridge beam

While a team on the ground carefully measured and cut each rafter, another team climbed the scaffolding to secure each rafter into place until hurricane ties can be attached. As the rafters went up, the form of the house really began to take shape!

Once all the rafters were raised, we constructed the large tension members that span across the home. These were partly assembled on the ground and lifted up to the scaffolding to be fit in place.

3rd-year Students assemble the roof rafters in the middle bays of the house

Once fitted, the final pieces of each joist were nailed into place. While these teams were constructing the roof, others were working on the house’s enclosure assembly. We began by cutting away the ZIP sheathing where it covered the doors and windows.

Completed Zip Sheathing under the pole Barn

Once all the rough openings were cut, we taped up all the seams and holes in the ZIP to ensure it stays waterproof. In our last week on site, we also prepared our presentation for Rural Studio’s annual Soup Roast!

This included a final review of all our construction documents with our professors and planning out our final presentation at the site.

Woodshop Wrap-Up

In the Woodshop, we began construction of Rosie’s cabinets. We began by organizing and preparing all of the pieces to be cut. This included a number of templates and cut sheets that ensured uniformity across all of our cabinets. Once all the prep work was done, it was all hands on deck!

We worked methodically to cut, plane, sand, and assemble. In our last days, we gathered and packaged all the unassembled pieces to hand off to next semester’s team of 3rd-year students.

Students begin to understand how to assemble the cabinet faces

Along with the pieces for assembly, we created detailed sets of construction documents and a storyboard so that next semester’s team can quickly and easily pick up where we left off. 

Students presenting at review

The Last History Class 

Our final class for our History Seminar was a day-long field trip to Columbus, Mississippi! We set out from Newbern early in the morning.

The day began at Riverview, where we had the opportunity to talk to the home’s owner, who had an expansive collection of period-accurate, mid1800s furniture and decorations.

The Exterior of Riverview

Riverview is one of the finest examples of Greek Revival mansion’s in the South. It was constructed in the early 1850s, and one of its most striking features is a cupola filled with colorful stained glass.

The Spiral Staircase to the Cupola at Riverview

After Riverview, we stopped for a barbecue lunch at The Little Dooey and made our way to the beautiful Temple Heights mansion. We spent time touring the grounds and drawing elevations.

Temple Heights Exterior

The Greek Revival mansion sits on a beautiful, lush plot that we all enjoyed relaxing on. Finally, we stopped at the Waverly Mansion. The mansion had recently undergone a large restoration and expansion, which created an immersive experience as we toured the estate.

Waverly Mansion Front lawn and exterior

The Mansion has a breathtaking atrium that travels the entirety of its four floors!

We ended the day with a dinner at Harvey’s Restaurant with our professor and said goodbye to the class for the semester.

Soup Roast

Our final event of the semester was Rural Studio’s annual Soup Roast! Attendees visited each of the Studio’s current projects and watched presentations from their teams. These included a presentation from the 3rd-year students at Rosie’s Home.

students presenting on site

We pinned up all of our work from the semester on site, and visiting reviewers provided feedback on the project. This critique will carry over and help Spring semester’s 3rd-years get started on the project. At the end of the day the studio gathered for a hearty soup meal.

Awards were given out for last month’s Beaux Arts watercolors and the site sketchbooks we had been keeping. Jenna took home the award for best watercolor, and Amanda took home the honor of best sketchbook!

student paintings on a table at Soup Roast

We’ve all enjoyed our semester at Rural Studio! We faced a number of challenges, ranging from extreme weather to smelly roadkill, but we faced them all with determination and a passion for what we do. Our time in Newbern has taught us many skills that we will carry with us for the rest of our lives, and for that we couldn’t be more grateful.

Group Photo of students teachers and clients

Until next time, Hale County!