Hello! We, the 3rd-year students, are back (again). We have returned from spring break well rested, newly tan, and ready to work! Since our last blog, we’ve been very busy working on site and in our other classes and are excited to share more about our time here at Rural Studio.
Live From Site
Since our last update, we have made steady and significant progress on the construction of Rosie’s Home. We finally finished the rafters and tied down and bracketed everything that we could. Trust me, we checked. Before we left for break we were able to put up the first set of roof sheathing, which was exciting as it was our first major visual change to the home. Soon we will be working on the gable ends and how we can work more natural lighting into the project.
Some days Rosie’s cats will come hangout on our wood piles and some days we wish we could take a nap just like them.
In the Studio, we are continuing our research and exploration of the front porch design. We took our early work and developed a series of mock-ups for a “long-term” hand rendering drawing of our selected porch. These types of drawings have historically been done in past studios and we are very excited to contribute to that “legacy.” Recently, we had a charrette outside of Red Barn to start early designs of Rosie’s porch and the surround area. This was new for some of us and was high productive but also a fun experience.
We also spent some time building our own drafting boards, since we don’t have our own, I know I know the new wave is so lame.
Wood Shop Could Shop Wood
Continuing from where we left off, we have made significant strides in the design and construction of Rosie’s cabinet system. We have been working to create a more “complete” set of drawings so that we can construct a mock-up cabinet for review as well as eventually build the finished system for installation. Through reviews and research, we were able to learn about last semester’s cabinets and combine them with our own ideas to reach a compromised design.
History In The Making
Since we last spoke, we have visited five houses and produced four water colors, using our custom dyes, for our history class. These field trips included visits to Magnolia Grove in Greensboro, Jemison Mansion in Tuscaloosa, and The Gaineswood Mansion in Demopolis. The last of which was where we encountered a scary doll. Spooky. At each home we were tasked with two sketches, utilizing the magic proportions trick, brought to you by Dick Hudgens, and line weighting to try and get as close as possible to a realistic but quick drawing of the building.
On The Outside
Outside of our busy days working and building and just being fun and interesting people, we like to spend our time playing pickleball with the 5th-year students, who we always beat, and visiting the Wayside Bakery to get a nice snack.
Until Next Time
We have had a blast here in Newbern so far and can’t wait to see what we’ll get up to next, hopefully all good things. The flowers are blooming and the sun is out so we have high hopes for the rest of the semester!
The 3rd-year students are back! Rural Studio has welcomed its new students to campus this spring, kicking off the semester with a tornado scare, some porch sitting, and five fresh faces.
A Warm Newbern Welcome
Before the storied Neckdown Week, we picked up right where last semester’s class left off at Rosie’s Home. We are tasked with finishing construction and designing a front porch for the project. But before that, we slowed things down and went on a Hale County front porch tour, as research of course. Our first stop was with Rosie and Frankie, meeting them for some of Frankie’s famous hamburgers in their front yard, taking in the surroundings and getting to know our clients.
Our next stop was at the Myers’ Home where we enjoyed some lemonade and Judith’s homemade cookies out on the porch. Being a Rural Studio project, the Myers’ porch was a perfect opportunity for us to learn how students in the past had tackled a front porch and how we could learn from their design.
Next on the agenda was an early morning coffee break with the “leftover” students living at Spencer House. Being new to the program, it was nice for us to get to talk to some Rural Studio veterans and discuss all sorts of things, but most importantly, how they use their own front porch. Here we learned some of the history behind the Spencer House and got to meet Linus, the porch cat.
Moving right along, we next visited Reggie and his porch at another past project, Rev. Walker’s Home. This project is a pole barn structure too, like Rosie’s! We took the time to sketch and measure to get a better understanding of the dimensions we will be working with. After all of that hard work, we took the time to relax and listen to some music.
Taking a break from Newbern, our next stop had us traveling to Whitsitt to meet longtime friends of the Studio, Mike and Frances Sullivan. After enjoying some grilled cheese, taco soup, pound cake, and pecan pie, we did some field work, measuring and sketching the outdoor “shed,” to understand how porches can work in unfamiliar settings. We also saw a buzzing beehive.
Wrapping up our Hale County front porch tour, we headed to Greensboro to meet Tim Higgins and Aaron Sanders Head to have an afternoon porch sitting. Here we were able to experience a porch similar to Spencer house but one that lived close to the road and close to town. Being so close to infrastructure, this was a great opportunity to study the relationship between the front porch and sound, especially that of semi trucks. Ew!
First Neckdown of 2023
Our third full week began at 7:00 AM every morning and saw us helping out around Newbern and Greensboro with Neckdown Week. We helped clean and paint the Bodark Amphitheater, build new raised beds for the farm, fix some plumbing post-freeze, paint the Safe House Museum, repair the Newbern Firehouse, and paint the Newbern playground.
The Return of the 3rds (to Studio)
After moving into our new studio in the Red Barn, we started by taking what we learned from our front porch study and began working on long section drawings. We incorporated the measurements we took as well as the experiential aspects of the visits. The drawings also help create a multimedia drawing with the goal of summarizing our time on the porches. See the finished drawings next month!
Report from the Woodshop
Our first week of Woodshop class was, to say the least, solid. Hah! We began by studying the past semester’s work on Rosie’s cabinet system and eventually presented a good old-fashioned critique on our thoughts and observations of our peers’ work.
Then, we were introduced to our first project, a cutting board!
For our first History class, we met with Aaron to learn how to make our own watercolor/paint dye using foraged materials from around the area including black walnuts, onion skin, iron, cosmos, and sumac leaves. We also learned how to create our own charcoal sticks to use later on in the semester.
To New Beginnings
We are so happy to finally be here at Rural Studio and can’t wait to share more in the coming months! See you soon!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
As the semester is beginning to wind down, the 3rd-year class has been very busy! We worked hard to finalize drawings and begin construction for Rosie’s Home. In our Woodshop Class, we spent lots of time in the shop finalizing ideas with our mock-up and getting started on Rosie’s kitchen cabinets. With our history seminar ending, we finished up our watercolors and visited some of our final houses.
Since our last post, Rosie’s House has made a lot of progress. At the Halloween Reviews, visiting architects came to critique and help improve our design. It was not all business though, everyone came dressed up in their Halloween costumes (even the reviewers)!
With Halloween Reviews over and designs complete, we were ready to begin construction! We started construction by re-framing some of the exterior walls, windows, and doors. After the walls were nailed together, we raised and set them in place.
After our walls were up, we began to measure and place our ZIP System sheathing. The sheathing helped brace our walls to keep them nice and square during construction.
With our walls up and sheathing in place, we then turned our attention to the ceiling! First, we set up temporary supports to lift up our ridge beam. Next, we climbed up the scaffolding to nail the ridge pieces together. Soon the ceiling will be completely framed!
During our first week back from Fall break, we spent each night in the Woodshop cutting pieces, making jigs, and gluing and assembling to have our cabinet mock-up done by the following week. Our mock-up consisted of three drawers and two shelves. We divided up jobs and worked together to make the construction process go as quickly and smoothly as possible.
The following week, we met with our instructors, Steve Long and Judith Seaman, to review our mock-up process and design. From the mock-up, we decided to narrow our focus on the kitchen cabinets for this semester and noted ways to improve our construction process. We revised our drawings and made a weekly schedule to prepare for the final weeks of the semester.
Finally, in the last few weeks, we started by ordering, processing, and organizing our woods and materials. We have been working hard to plan, cut, and begin assembly on Rosie’s final kitchen cabinets. With most of our pieces cut out and three cabinet boxes assembled, we are excited to continue work on some wonderful cabinets for Rosie’s kitchen.
Recently in history class, we continued to tour historic Antebellum homes every week. Our focus has been shifting from sketching towards our final watercolor. This watercolor is 24″ x 30″ and depicts an elevation of different architectural details.
In October, we had the chance to tour Tasso Plantation in Orrville, AL. This house has an incredibly rare and intact wooden block wallpaper print. This print, “Banks of the Bosphorus,” depicts a panoramic view of minarets and waterways around the entire room.
The next week, we visited Carlisle Hall near Marion, AL. This grand house was designed by Richard Upjohn in the asymmetrical Italianate style.
The following week, we visited Old Cahawba, AL. On the site, some buildings remain of the abandoned town and foundations outline where others once stood. Outlined in steel is the original courthouse that once stood at the center of town. Rural Studio students disassembled and moved St. Luke’s Church back in the park many years ago.
We also visited Thornhill Plantation in Forkland, AL. This Greek revival house was once one of the largest plantations in the area. It sits atop a hill with 360-degree views of the property.
Stay tuned for next month’s blog to see our final class field trip to Mississippi!
The month of September and beyond has been very busy! We have been working hard to finish up final designs and construction documents for Rosie’s Home, traveled with Dick Hudgens to some amazing houses for our History Seminar, and worked through iterations of cabinet details for Rosie’s kitchen in Woodshop Class.
The 3rd-year class made a lot of progress on Rosie’s Home this month. We used the “atmospheres” from our last assignment and previous Rural Studio house materials to help us design different features for Rosie’s Home. We worked through new ways to implement storage, lighting, acoustics, and ventilation from these material studies.
While we designed these details, we had the opportunity to learn and help out with an ongoing project with a visiting team from University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill’s Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering. They are collecting public health data samples for the region on our very own Morrisette campus. During their visit, we collected soil samples to be tested in the UNC lab. This research corresponds to our study of healthy materials and how we at Rural Studio can maximize the health of the systems we supply to our clients. Their studies opened our eyes to how much a functional sewer system contributes to the health of a homeowner, and showed us why this is a problem that must be addressed in rural Alabama.
After a week of working on our details, we presented them to Rural Studio’s own Design-Build Manager, John Marusich. This review revealed to us that rather than making several smaller moves to provide Rosie with solutions for storage, lighting, acoustics, and ventilation, we could make one large move to accomplish all four: manipulation of the ceiling plane.
With this idea in mind, we split into four teams. Each team designed the ceiling profile in a different way to enhance the four previously defined elements. In this design process, we presented our ceiling proposals to our Seattle visitors, Kim Clements and Joe Schneider from JAS Design Build, Jake LaBarre from Miller Hull, the Front Porch Initiative team, and our director Andrew Freear. All of these voices helped us to be more practical and intentional with our decisions. Through this iteration and review process, we found our one big move: vaulting the social space in the home.
Most recently, we began the study of the vault in full-scale format. The first step was drafting 1” = 1’ scale details to study the framing of the vaulted space. Using these details, we created three different mock-up versions. We then built these mock-ups on site in their potential locations. Being able to see their spatial effects in person helped us understand what this vaulted space would truly feel like and how it would change the atmosphere of the space.
Wrapping up before Fall Break, we hosted Rural Studio faculty and the 5th-year students on site for a mock-up review. They offered a lot of great feedback and helped us move forward with a clearer design intention. We are so excited to start construction when we get back from break!
The 3rd-year class has been designing Rosie’s kitchen and utility space cabinetry this semester. To start, we split into three designated teams: Upper kitchen cabinets, lower kitchen cabinets, and utility storage for the bathroom and laundry room. In our designs, we are focusing on functionality as it relates to our housing affordability research, accessibility for our client, and healthy materials continued from our studio study. While we worked on our designs, Keith and Dylan Cochran of Wood Studio, in Fort Payne, AL, visited Rural Studio to give us a critique of our progress and a demonstration on cabinetry assembly. This workshop demystified the process of creating a functional system of cabinets.
With each group’s cabinet design in the works, we began a mock-up to test important moments and details. We have been finalizing the dimensions and discussing our design of our mock-up model with our professors Steve Long and Judith Seaman. We are so excited to begin constructing our mock-up after Fall Break and ensure the design is successful for Rosie’s Home!
Throughout the past month, we have been to several Antebellum-era houses with our professor, Dick Hudgens. Each week, we tour the home, learn about its characteristic architectural and construction features, and then complete the day by sketching a portion of the home. Dick has been helping us to improve our sketching abilities each week. He teaches us how to correctly proportion a subject and to go from light to dark with our pencils as we draw.
The first week in September, we visited Magnolia Grove in Greensboro which is about 10 miles north of Newbern. Magnolia Grove contains a detached kitchen in the rear, typical of the era. The columns are crooked because the bricks of lower quality refused for the main home were used for the service outbuildings. We sketched the kitchen and cook’s quarters and the front elevation of the home.
The following week, we drove to Demopolis and visited Bluff Hall and Lyon Hall on the Black Warrior River. At Bluff Hall, we learned about brightly colored paints and the immense wealth that existed in this small town. We sketched a historic quarters of enslaved people, a building that rested on the bluff near the main home, contrasting human injustices to the aforementioned wealth of the area. At Lyon Hall, we had the chance to go on the roof and look out over the city of Demopolis. Lyon Hall also features an old family Bible with historical records of the Lyon family that go back several generations.
Recently, we traveled to the Jemison-Van de Graaff Mansion in Tuscaloosa. We learned about gasoliers and rich-colored rugs. We sketched an exterior elevation of the home.
This week, we traveled back to Demopolis and visited Gaineswood. Gaineswood was unlike the other houses we have visited and is unique in Alabama. Gaineswood started as a simple dog-trot cabin, but its owner and architect, Nathan Bryan Whitfield, transformed this home into a grand example of Greek Revival architecture. We studied its expansion throughout the decades and looked at its complex roof lines.
In addition to having us travel to and study these historic homes, Dick also assigned us a new watercolor project. This semester, we are charged to make our own natural watercolor pigments from regional sources. To kick-start this, local textile artist Aaron Sanders-Head, of Greensboro, came to Morrisette Campus to help us extract our pigments. After we had a dynamic palette of colors, Dick assigned us to paint a tree to practice our watercolor techniques. We will continue our watercolor activities in the next couple weeks to prepare for our final watercolor project, a Beaux-Arts painting of a construction detail.
We are looking forward to starting construction on Rosie’s site in the next couple days and for the Halloween Reviews in a few weeks. Stay tuned to see our progress and what our costumes will be!