Hale County Hospital Courtyard 2

Post “Pre-Stress Test”

“Pre-Stress Test” is a review with Auburn University faculty to show our progress of the projects and plan of action. It is also preparation for “Stress Test” in May, which determines if we move forward to build the project. Although it is a bit stressful and nerve-racking, “Pre-Stress Test” helps us gain outside perspective on what we need to work on to successfully move forward with the project.

Four professors from Auburn, Margaret Fletcher, Rusty Smith, Justin Miller, and Christian Dagg, came out to Rural Studio for reviews. Margaret and Rusty were our studio professors during 1st-Year at Auburn, so it was fun to show them just how much we’ve learned over the past four years. We were able to share the feedback from the hospital team and how we responded to their design comments.

plan drawing of hospital courtyard

The plan above depicts the ground surfaces and overhead canopy of the courtyard design. The hardscape is drawn as large pavers, the gravel is the dotted hatch, and the white space is the large central lawn.

The section on the left is looking south and shows the seating nooks along the back wall. The section on the right shows how the porch would span across the courtyard and be used for physical therapy activities during sessions.

The perspective drawings show the ideas for the future courtyard overlaid with existing conditions of the hospital.

Concluding comments from our “Pre-Stress Test” reviewers were that we need to focus more on therapy and rehabilitation details in the design and make therapy activities more visible in our drawings. After Spring Break, we will continue to work on design explorations, focus on therapy details, and develop a demolition plan.

Community Partner Conversations

In order to move forward with the design process, we met with our community partners at Hale County Hospital. We gave them a presentation of what we understand about the Hospital’s opportunities and ideas for the future of the courtyard. We showed the hospital team two very different courtyard schemes in order to learn what they liked most about each design.

students giving presentation to hospital community partners

It was fun to share what we had been working on over the past few months!

We used perspectives drawings, plans, precedent images, and 1/8″ models to depict the two schemes.

The perspective drawings above show what the courtyard would look like if you were standing along the south wall and looking north at the porch.

The plan drawings depict the ground surfaces, screens, trees, shrubs, and fish pond that could be used in the courtyard design. The lined hatch pattern represents hardscape, the dotted pattern represents gravel, and the large white space in Secret Garden #1 represents lawn.

Some feedback we got from the hospital team was that they liked the overall design of Secret Garden #1, but enjoyed the private nooks in the shrubs of Secret Garden #2. They thought it was great to have a large covered space for physical therapy that connected the entire courtyard. They also enjoyed the wide columns that could be used for therapy activities during sessions. Moving forward, we will look at how to combine the best ideas of both schemes into one design!

Design Build Dig

A few days ago, we (the Hale County Hospital Courtyard 2 team) transplanted the rose bushes from the planter-bed in the courtyard to the front of the hospital. It’s best to transplant rose bushes in the winter when they are dormant, so we wanted to get this task done before the weather got any warmer. Thanks to our previous conversations with Auburn’s Landscape Architecture Professors David Hill and Emily Knox, we had a step by step guide of the process. It was a long day of digging, but the final product looks great! Here’s what we did:

Step 1: Dig a 5′ diameter hole for each of the rose bushes. As a rule of thumb, the hole should be as large as the spread of the rose’s branches.

Step 2: Create a mound of dirt at the bottom of the hole and stomp on it to create a pedestal. This is necessary to make sure that water does not collect near the roses’ root ball and drown the plants.

Step 3: Dig out the rose bush from the planter bed. Be careful to dig far enough away from the root ball so that it does not get damaged.

Step 4: Tag the rose bush with tape so you remember which side faces north. Transport the rose bush in a wheelbarrow to the front of the hospital.

Step 5: Place the rose bush in the hole with the tagged side facing north and make sure the crown is at or above ground level. While covering the roots, tamp the soil around them to remove any air pockets. Mound a few inches of soil around the perimeter of the rose bush to create a reservoir for water.

Step 6: Notice how open the space under the trellis feels now that there is a larger view into the courtyard.

Step 7: Admire the fresh new appearance of Hale County Hospital!

Review, Rinse, and Repeat

Last semester, the presentations we gave about the project talked a lot about the history and context of Hale County Hospital Courtyard, explaining nearly all of our research. As we got further along in our design process, we realized that the research-oriented presentation was no longer effective in explaining our design intentions. So over the past couple of weeks, we’ve taken a step back to rework our presentation to form a clear and concise argument for the design.

The first step in our process was to write down everything we know about the project and draw connections between facts. We then categorized what we know into two main focuses: Hospital Resilience and Health & Wellness. From there, we created supporting arguments to back up these two focuses. During the entire process, we constantly questioned how all of our knowledge could be applied through design intentions.

The next step was to story board the presentation. We organized it around the two main focuses, ending on how our knowledge led to the design intentions of the project. The focus of Hospital Resilience is about maximizing the use of their facilities, courtyard maintenance, and expanding community outreach. The focus of Health & Wellness is that the project is designed for a variety of audiences and is a desirable place to work and heal.

After a few days of presentation work, we went back to the drawing board to sketch out some of our ideas.

We concluded the week with a review from Peter Landon, Founder and Principal of Landon Bone Baker Architects in Chicago. 3rd-year professor Emily McGlohn also joined us for the review. Most of our conversation with Peter and Emily centered around our design process and how to move the three schemes we presented further. Their feedback was very helpful and exactly what we needed at the end of a long week. Moving forward, we will continue making minor changes to the presentation, but will primarily work on advancing the three design schemes.

Knox and Hill come to Hale

Over the past couple of weeks, we (the Hale County Hospital team) have been working a lot closer with two of Auburn’s landscape architecture professors David Hill and Emily Knox. During “neckdown” week, David and the 1st-Year Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA) students came out to our site to show us how to transplant rose bushes and prune vines. The following week, David and Emily came back to Rural Studio to do a day-long design workshop with us. Their feedback has been incredibly helpful and their presence is always enjoyable!

The first thing David Hill and the MLA students showed us was how to transplant the rose bushes in the marble planters. Because rose bushes have to be transplanted during the winter months while they are dormant, we are moving all eight of them to the front entrance of Hale County Hospital.

We also learned how to prune the Confederate Jasmine vines which have become overgrown on the trellis structure. Trimming back the vines allows the sunlight to filter through the trellis and creates more visibility into the courtyard.

This week, David Hill and Emily Knox came out to Rural Studio to spend a day with us developing design ideas and coming up with our spatial agenda. We began with a review of our presentation and spent the rest of the day charretting different schemes. David and Emily chose five “winners” for us to develop further and build in model form.

After two intense days of designing and model building, we re-presented the schemes to Emily and David over a call. We were unable to identify any clear winners or losers of the five schemes, so we will be developing all five of them further over the next few days. This go around, we will test how flexible all of the schemes are for maintenance, diagram how they would be used throughout the day and seasons, create small and large gathering spaces, and build more articulated models.

Having Emily Knox and David Hill assist us on the Hale County Hospital Courtyard project has been a huge help. We look forward to working with them more in the coming months!