20K Ophelia’s Home

Rain, Rain, Go Away

Folks, it was one heck of a rainy week in Newbern! Though this slowed some of the progress of the floor framing in Ophelia’s Home, the 3rd-years did manage to get some work done on site before the big storms hit. They completed the fabrication and installation of both girders and the termite shield. Soon after the rain came, the site became a mud pit for the rest of the week which pushed the third years back into studio.


On the bright side, the newly installed drain for the foundation has proved to be worth the multitude of gravel-filled wheelbarrows as it was able to continuously drain the majority of the water that came flowing into the site!

Once indoors, construction documents were updated and the 3rd-years were able to get ahead on cleaning up other drawings, so they’ll have plenty of time to kick it into full gear on site once the rain quits. While not being able to work on site, the 3rd-years also began the process of determining the color of Ophelia’s Home. This was done by looking at the context of the surrounding landscape, and discussing how this can relate to the color.

Tune in next Monday folks, for another update on the 3rd-years tomfoolery! P.S. If somebody can get it to stop raining please do.

“I don’t know why you say goodbye, I say hello”

The new group of 3rd-years have arrived and hit the ground running (with maybe a stumble or two) as they begin the process of taking over Ophelia’s Home project and start to get acclimated in their new spot for the semester. Before discussing the details of their project, the students took a tour of several past Rural Studio projects to familiarize themselves with the town and other 20K Homes around Newbern.  Once touring and neckdowns were completed, the initial goal for the newbies was to look through all the hard work last semester’s 3rd year group put in to creating the best version of Joanne’s home for Ophelia. One of the first steps was to understand the foundation and the reasoning behind some major decisions made in the design.

New kids on the block… Meet the 3rd-years!

Adam “Slow-Movin” Boutwell

From: Bay Minette, Alabama

Joke: Today my brother asked me, “Can I have a book mark?” We’ve been brothers for 21 years and he still does not know my name is Adam.

Hobby/Talent: Professional snapper

Yearbook Quote: “Mountains never meet, but people do.”

Alex “Old Soul” Harvill

From: Tampa, Florida

Joke: Some people think prison is one word… but to robbers it’s a sentence.

Hobby/Talent: Riff on the air guitar.

Yearbook Quote: “Surely you can’t be serious”

Daniel “Go-To Goatee” Burton:

From: Prattville, Alabama

Joke: My friend keeps saying, “Cheer up man, it could be worse, you could be stuck underground in a hole full of water.” I know he means well.

Hobby/Talent: Amateur chopstick craftsman

Yearbook Quote: “There’s a stack of freshly made waffles in the middle of the forest! Don’t you find that a wee bit suspicious?”

Elizabeth “Parking Services” Brandebourg

From: Auburn, Alabama

Joke: Two guys walk into a bar, but the third one ducks.

Hobby/Talent: Wildlife photography

Yearbook Quote: “We don’t make mistakes, just happy little accidents.”

Elle “MNOP” Whitehurst

From: Peachtree City, Georgia

Joke: Ask for more info.

Hobby/Talent: Can talk with mouth closed

Yearbook Quote: “I am serious. And don’t call me Shirley”

Hannah “Trevor” Moates

From: Ozark, Alabama

Joke: Did you hear about the new corduroy pillow? They are making headlines everywhere!

Hobby/Talent: The Auburn Eventing Team

Yearbook Quote: “Better is the enemy of good.”

Jackie “The Marine” Rosborough

From: Deerfield, Illinois

Joke: I’m addicted to brake fluid, but I can stop whenever I want.

Hobby/Talent: Making coffee. Try a pourover from me to decide if it’s a hobby or a talent.

Yearbook Quote: “My vibe is like, hey you could probably pour soup in my lap and I’ll apologize to you.”

Jasvandhan “Jay” Coimbatore Upendranath

From: Coimbatore Tamil Nadu, India

Joke: ur mom

Hobby/Talent: Binge watching

Yearbook Quote: “I wish there was a way to know you were in the good old days, before you’ve actually left them.”

Jooyoung “Tree” Lim

From: South Korea

Joke: Why was 6 afraid of 7? Because 7 ate 9.

Hobby/Talent: Soccer

Yearbook Quote: “Your secrets are safe with me… I wasn’t even listening”

Lauren “Patio” Deck

From: Aurora, Illinois

Joke: Your workout routine

Hobby/Talent: Black belt taekwondo

Quote: “No pain, no gain.”

Luke “Shamus” Killough

From: Huntsville, Alabama

Joke: I’m in architecture for the money.

Hobby/Talent: Can shred on a kazoo

Yearbook Quote: “I have no idea what I’m doing, but I know I’m doing it really, really well.”

Shijin “Surgeon” Ding

From: Qingdao, China

Joke: At Disney I heard a mother talking to her son say, “We’re in the happiest place on earth. Don’t let me slap you.”

Hobby/Talent: Photoshop, InDesign, CAD, Sketchup

Yearbook Quote: “Your hair is winter fire, January embers. My heart burns there too.”

For the first week of studio a good ‘ol fashioned pull-planning session was held to create a rough to-do list in order to get the project done in time for Pig Roast. The studio was split into four teams that consisted of framing, enclosures, MEP, and interiors. Although there’s a lot to be done for the semester, this framework will allow the project to be completed smoothly with a competent team of 3rd years (good luck finding one!).

(Kidding, they’ve got this.)

The first few days on site were spent digging drainage trenches and preparing for floor framing which will occur next week. The first steps to the floor framing was to place the girder in order to secure the joists. Gravel was poured into the trenches which will surround the drainage tile that is to be put in place.

“I Say Goodbye, You Say Hello”

The end of the semester was a hustle and last hoorah for the fall semester 3rd-Year team. The students were sentimental (and maybe a little stressed) as they finished projects, and assignments and prepared to showcase their semester in one final review. And even though it felt like it was never going to happen, they got to start building a house!!

When it came time for the pour, excitement filled the air as the concrete truck back into Ophelia’s driveway. One full day of pushing and pulling and shoveling and smoothing with just about all the strength the students had to give. The 3rd-Years then drilled into the concrete footing to place and grout vertical rebar.

When the block layers came, everything went off without a hitch! The 3rd-Years got to watch the masters at work, and even help on occasion. Finally, the students then filled the allotted cells of the CMU wall with concrete and placed anchor bolts for next semester to bolt the sill on the foundation wall. And of course, cleaning up the site all along the way.

Oh, and the quilt, the magnificent quilt. The student’s final block iterations were sewn together, a quilt back was made with extra material from the naturally dyed fabric and a layer of cotton and polyester batting (yes kind of like insulation) was sandwiched between the sewn top and bottom. 

The students then basted the sandwich (quick, temporary seams) and made a PVC Pipe frame to hold all the layers together while each student intricately “quilted” area of their own block together to make one cohesive blanket. A border was made and all 13 of the students sat around the Morrisette dining table to whip stitch the edges of the quilt closed, while watching The Grinch and drinking hot chocolate. :,) 

The last class for the 3rd-Year’s History elective as a day long trip to Columbus, MS. The students ended like they began, seeing and sketching the southern vernacular with their wise captain, Dick Hudgens. They were then left to their own devises to finish their final watercolors, and they all, miraculously, finished! The pieces illustrated what the 3rd-years had learned about composition, color, fine water coloring techniques, and the influence of classical design on historic Montgomery homes. The works were displayed in the Morrissette House during the annual Soup Roast, as tradition holds.

Soup Roast bookended the fall semester 3rd-Years’ time at Rural Studio. They got to take one last tour around Hale County to see the amazing 5th-years, graduate students, and leftovers projects. Then, the finally of Soup Roast, the 3rd-Year’s presentation!

The students got feedback from their reviewers about their mechanical exhaust ventilation crawl space foundation (yup that’s a mouthful) and how they approached multiple residents moving into the product line homes. The 3rd-Years presented their ¼ bedroom or “nook” design in Joanne’s modified home through a built mock-up out of 2×6’s and pin up boards, so everyone could see and experience what the space will feel like.

Also, the final quilt was revealed! The students explained the premise of the class and had a conversation with the crowd about how this unconventional representation method expands our understanding of a project, the process of design, and cultivated empathy, in this case with Ophelia. The parade of students, architects, parents, teachers and friends then walked to the project site for Ophelia’s 20K too see the physical progress so far and meet Ophelia! The 13 3rd-Years returned to the site the next day to say goodbye and present her with the final quilt (she was surprised and very grateful). 

The next day, the students packed up the pods, said goodbye to Chastity the mouse and Cupcake the possum, then drove/ flew across the globe to get home, but left with a lot of love in their hearts for Hale County and each other. The fall students felt the honor of borrowing Rural Studio and Newbern as their home for 3 ½ months. For that, they will be forever thankful. Now Ophelia’s 20K is handed over to the spring semester students!

War Eagle to that!  

Getting Dirty with the 3rd-Years

With the decisions made in studio, the 3rd-Years have finally broken ground on Ophelia’s 20K Home! That first means putting up badder boards, and then again, and again, and again …and again. In total seven times. Hey they want to get it right! 

With the exact points and measurement from the boards the team traced the plan of the foundation to the ground and measured where the footing would step. The students also said goodbye to a huge tree hanging over the buildable site, so here’s a quick thank you to the tree for it’s sacrifice. On Friday, the students had an online meeting with engineer Robert McGlohn for conformation and advice on of the proposed foundation changes and approval on the new porch detail.

Finally Tuesday was excavation day! The real fun began as the 3rd-Years got their shovels and cleaned up the hole for the foundation. The students then split into teams to create a quick process for creating the formwork for their concrete pour. Other students also worked on bracing the formwork, laying rebar, adjusting the badder boards (yes, again), finishing construction documents, digging holes for pier foundations, and filling in the smelly pool that formed at the low corner of the foundation.

With the formwork made and the rebar laid, the 3rd-Years are ready to pour concrete. 

Happy Halloween Reviews

The Halloween Reviews week is here! This week for the big review, the 3rd-years presented their 20K design and research for 20K Ophelia’s Home. Much of the busy week was spent in preparation for the Thursday review and their group costume, the “Last Supper.”

The 3rd-years finished their final quilting blocks in the elective class just in time to be hung and presented alongside their initial renderings. Aaron Head (local artist) returned to lead a sticking workshop on Wednesday as the students begin the process of actually “quilting” the quilt top, batting, and bottom together. Those couple hours of stitching were so peaceful, a pleasant break from studio work.

As Halloween grew closer, the students rapidly worked to finalize plan details, construction documents, and presentation flow.

On that hallowed day, guest reviewers Marlon Blackwell, Mike Newman, and Katrina Van Valkenburgh, alongside Rural Studio faculty, probed the students about the decisions they made behind their work, gave insightful critiques, and encouraged the 3rd-years in their research to improve the design of 20K Ophelia’s Home. Overall the review was a success! 

And the students did enjoy itself all the while! The reviews of the 5th-year and master’s students were extremely interesting and engaging (not typically a word used to describe review days) and it was great to see what the rest of Red Barn was up to. Tuesday was the annual community Pumpkin Carve with the Halloween celebrations and costume contest on Thursday. The disciples definitely enjoyed themselves.