3rdyears

And They’re Off!

Newbies in Newbern

The Spring 2024 3rd-year students found their way to Newbern, and for Rural Studio’s own 30th Anniversary year! These past few weeks have been filled with many firsts for this group. They learned quite a lot already about putting things together and have been thrown into Rural Studio history with the traditional first-week Project Tour!

During their first week in Hale County, the newbies discovered trivia at The Stable and weren’t doing too well, stuck in last place throughout the whole night with 53 points. Then came the final round, which was the special twist: answer the question right and you gain the points that your team wagered, but if you get it wrong you must subtract the points wagered. The group of five decided to wager it all to give themselves a fighting chance at surpassing the first-place holder who had 98 points—and it worked! The group won with 105 points! Unfortunately, the following trivia nights sadly do not share the same happy ending.

Winner, winner, pizza dinner!

Notorious Neckdown

During their second week in Hale County, the 3rd-year students had some good old-fashioned bonding time with the 5th-year students and faculty during “Neckdown” Week! Each day, the students battled the crazy weather and were split into groups to help out around Hale County.

The first group visited Perry Lakes Park with Emily McGlohn and Judith Seaman. They swept the walkways and replaced rotting boards on the boardwalk to the Birding Tower, Bathrooms, and Pavilion.

The second group was the Fabrication Pavilion with Andrew Freear, John Marusich, and Steve Long. The students helped take apart and assemble scaffolding that was then used to replace parts of the columns.

The third group had their first days on the farm, helping Eric Ball plant seeds, harvest carrots, and prepare microgreens to grow in the greenhouse. Group four was busy over at the Model Homes sprucing up for a Spring roster of exciting visitors. Students cleaned the homes, painted walls, and helped Mason Hinton and John Allen with general maintenance. Last but not least was the mobile task force later in the week with Emily and Judith. With a rotating team, they cleaned the Thesis Barn, Newbern Town Hall, and Brick Barn. They also scrubbed the fence to a shine along Highway 61 at Morrisette Campus.

“Neckdown” Week wasn’t for the weak, with such wacky weather almost every single day. From freezing weather to lots of rain, the new 3rd-year students got an unusual Neckdown forecast. At the end of the day, they had a great time getting accustomed to the new lifestyle in Newbern.

Rookies at Rosie’s

Working on Rosie’s home had been one of the most anticipated tasks for the 3rd-year students. With help from a few of last semester’s students, they quickly picked up where the Fall 2023 team left. Kati taught Julia how to trim the windows; Tanner, Sarah, Brysen, and Mac all worked on continuing the cypress wood paneling; Caitlin and Deane built louvers for the attic vents; and finally, Yesenia and Jack continued the electrical work. One big hit from the first week on Rosie’s site was the cats! The most famous is Crunch, who is extremely loving.

Over the next few weeks, the 3rd-year students all teamed together to finish putting up the cypress wood paneling that wraps the ceiling. This was a big step in the right direction when it came to finishing Rosie’s Home. The cypress wood ceiling perfectly reflects lighting down into the room creating a beautiful effect.

Once the ceiling was completed, it was time to trim and caulk the windows and louvers throughout the house. This step only took a few days, and soon after, the scaffolding was able to come out and the flooring began! The scaffolds leaving the house and completing flooring in the living and kitchen areas were such big accomplishments, we deserved a good rest on the floor. The flooring is called Marmoleum, a variety of linoleum which is manufactured with linseed oil that uses a click-lock backing system and is part of 3rd-year students’ ongoing study in healthier material alternatives. Along with its health advantages over vinyl, the whole class is loving how easy Marmoleum has been to install.

The class is super excited to keep checking tasks off of the list and pushing towards the finish line of Rosie’s Home.

Head-Turning History

Dick Hudgens is the professor for the history seminar here at Rural Studio. However, his classes are not like any regular history classes these students have had before. Hudgens takes the students on trips to visit historic homes around the Black Belt region and includes the use of natural watercolors in his sketching assignments. At the beginning of the semester, a watercolor-making class is held led by local textile and dye artist Aaron Sanders Head. During this class, the students are shown a few ways that watercolor pigments can be made using natural resources like local plant matter, kitchen scraps, and leftover building materials.

So far, we have visited four homes: Glencairn, Magnolia Grove, Bluff Hall, and Lyons Hall. We learned a lot from these four homes and are excited for the other trips as the semester progresses. If you’d like to see everyone’s work, all sketches and watercolors done throughout the semester can be found at Pig Roast coming up at the end of next month!

Locations of the homes visited so far:

1.          Glencairn, Greensboro, AL

2.          Magnolia Grove, Tuscaloosa, AL

3.          Bluff Hall, Demopolis, AL

4.          Lyons Hall, Demopolis, AL

Working Hard in Woodshop

The 3rd-year students have been spending a lot of time in the woodshop these past couple of weeks and have been keeping the woodshop instructor, Steve Long, on his toes. Each semester students are given two projects to work on within the shop. The first is a cutting board, which allows them to get familiar with the equipment in the shop. The second, and most important, project is to recreate an architect’s famous chair design from found documents. Most of these chairs are manufactured on a machine scale, so the project requires students to design the processes to build these seats by hand using the resources of the Newbern shop! Both finished products will be on display at Pig Roast, so be sure to come by at the end of the semester.

So far, we have made the cutting boards, performed research for our chosen chairs, and created storyboards for them. Most recently, we have started making mock-ups to prepare for the final chair build. We are excited to see how the chairs will turn out!

Here’s each group and their chosen chair!

Denae and Julia: Standard Chair No. 4 by Jean Prouve

Sarah and Yesenia: Stool No. 60 by Alvar Aalto

Brysen and Mac: Frei Edigio (Folding Chair) by Lina Bo Bardi

To end on a good note, get to know the new group! Here are some of their fun little theories…

What’s your fun little theory?

Denae Inniss is from the Bahamas. Theory: Animals that run out in front of your car are controlled by insurance companies.

Julia Van Pelt is from Columbus, Georgia. Theory: Farmersonly.com puts farms out of business.

Sarah May is from Huntsville, Alabama. Theory: Dogs have names for humans.

Yesenia Serrano is from Collinsville, Alabama. Theory: Whales have contact with life in the deep sea and life in space.

Brysen Calvin is from Chicago, Illinois. Theory: There is one cow on the moon; it never jumped.

Mac Harlow is from Atlanta, Georgia. Theory: The Denver airport.

Thanks for checking in, look out for big strides out at Rosie’s Home as we celebrate the home stretch of this 3rd-year project! See you soon.

Rounding the Corner

The 3rd-year team is in the last stage of the semester, and Laura and Peter are hard at work finalizing decisions for the post-frame roof size and pitch. After testing scale by creating one-to-one scale drawings and hanging them at the fabrication pavilion, the team finally determined a height and pitch of a roof structure appropriate for Rosie’s site.

Next, the 3rd-years prepared a presentation for clients, Rosie and Frankie, to provide an update on the selected post-frame dimensions. With approval from clients, the team can finally get started on site prep!

With a final roof design, the 3rd-years went to work finalizing the construction documents to send to their contractors. The team is currently awaiting quotes for tree removal, dirt excavation, and truss design.

Breaking Ground

Third-years finally broke ground on Rosie’s site! With help from Mason Hinton, the 3rd-year crew transported tools and supplies from Ophelia’s Home site to the new job site.

Mason drove the Bobcat over to Rosie’s site to install temporary power. With power on site, they are now waiting to get the trees removed in order to get to work!

Electives Continue

While studio work marches on, so do history classes and field trips with Dick Hudgens. Most recently, the 3rd-years took a short trip out to Greensboro to visit our neighbor Ian Crawford’s home, “The Oaks.”

Before Thanksgiving Break, the class also visited the Molette Bend Plantation Home, where Dick was the head architect of the designs for historical preservation and adaptive reuse.

Woodshop Class also continues, and the students have just about wrapped up work on the library carts. Peter and Laura are in the final stages of adding wood finish and wax to their finished product.

While finishing the carts, they are also working on designs for their third and final project, a small wooden lamp.

The semester will wrap up soon! Stay tuned for one last blog post before our current 3rd-years head out of Newbern and back to Auburn!

Halloween Review, Now What?

Welcome back to the 3rd-year team blog! Halloween season is a busy time for Rural Studio. Faculty, staff, and students work hard to prepare for Halloween Review presentations and the annual Pumpkin Carve.

Halloween Review

Halloween presentations went very well for the 3rd-years, Laura and Peter! Their first in-person review was a unique one, with everyone in full costume. Laura and Peter were Yzma and Kronk from the Disney movie Emperor’s New Groove.

The students have been researching post-frame construction for Rosie’s new home. They received helpful feedback from the reviews on their proposed design, including location, size, and shape of the roof. Their existing site includes several existing structures and vegetation, which limits the number of configurations for the new house.

After Halloween Reviews, the students analyzed the feedback and began to make design decisions. They narrowed down the roof structure’s footprint to 26′ x 48′. These dimensions will be the most beneficial size and scale for students next semester to continue the design development. The team used this floorplan size to then begin to study the roof’s shape and structural details.

From Pole Barn to Post Frame

Emily, Chelsea, Laura, and Peter made a trip to Greensboro, AL to study a nearby post-frame structure. Next, the team created drawings for our structural engineering consultant, Joe Farruggia, to give them feedback on its structural requirements.

Joe helped the team understand the difference between a “post-frame” roof and a “pole barn” structure. Pole barns, Joe explained, have deeper foundations and stronger connections to the ground, whereas post frames have shallower foundations but stronger connections where the posts and the trusses meet.

This past week, the students met with Van from Clockwise Components in Moundville, AL, to discuss how the post-frame steel trusses are manufactured and what the truss details might look like.

History Class Field Trips Continue

Peter and Laura continue with their weekly history classes with Dick Hudgens by touring and sketching historic homes around the West Alabama region. Their destinations have been Bluff Hall, Lions Hall, and Gaineswood in Demopolis, AL, as well as the Van De Graaff Mansion in Tuscaloosa.

They have also been working on watercolors that describe the unique landscapes of Alabama.

Woodshop Project: Library Shelves

Laura and Peter have also been busy in woodshop class with instructor, Steve Long. They are hard at work gluing, clamping, and sanding shelf carts for the Newbern Library.

The 3rd-Years meet their client!

After several weeks of studying post-frame construction and the Studio’s 20K Product Line homes, the 3rd-year team finally met their client! We were thrilled to meet Rosie and her husband, Frankie, who have graciously agreed to work with our 3rd-year students.

The first step now is to develop a thorough site analysis of Rosie’s site. The students spent several hours on site measuring and determining the layout of the existing structures, topography changes, and tree placements.

Hybrid of the External vs. Internal Expansion

In studio, the post-frame construction studies continued, and a decision was made to explore a hybrid of external and internal expansion. Laura and Peter created drawings to test how much room was needed for living comfortably while also having room to expand underneath the pole barn.

Once the site plan was ready, Laura and Peter also explored how their hybrid studies could fit on the site.

First Wood Shop Project Complete

Woodshop class is in full effect; the 3rd-Years completed their cutting boards. The students were tasked with designing their own cutting boards, using pieces of walnut and maple. After several rounds of cutting and laminating, they finished sanding and added layers of wood finish.

This project gave them a better understanding of the tools they will use for the rest of the semester.

Now that the cutting boards are complete, they have started design work on new shelf carts and a table for the Newbern Library.

History Class with Dick Hudgens

For history class, Dick Hudgens has been taking the 3rd-Years on field trips to historically significant buildings around West Alabama. After visiting Magnolia Grove last week, Dick took the students to another historic site in Greensboro, the Glencairn.

This Greek Revival building was constructed in the early 19th century and is a part of the National Register of Historic Places. After touring the interior, Dick had Laura and Peter sketch the front elevation and floor plans of the building.

Another Day, Another Pole Barn

3rd-Years Study 20K Homes and Post-Frame Construction

This week, Laura, Peter, Emily, and Chelsea jumped straight in to researching their semester’s housing project, which will focus on post-frame construction. To familiarize themselves with Rural Studio’s housing studies, the 3rd-year team toured past 20K projects and attended a presentation from the Myers’ Home team and Rev. Walker’s Home team. In their presentation, the students described the detailed post-frame housing analysis they conducted last year during their design development.

After this preliminary research, the 3rd-years began to study how 20K Product Line Homes might fit under a pole barn structure. Using Rev. Walker’s Home’s pole barn size as a base, Laura and Peter diagrammed different layout possibilities for Dave’s, Mac’s, and Joanne’s Homes set within a pole barn shell. These quick studies provided valuable insight into scale, orientation, and 20K concepts. Next, 3rd-year will visit their client’s site and apply their plans and sections to a real place. Even with only two 3rd-year students, they were able to fill the entire studio wall with their drawings!

Dan Wheeler’s Sketch Workshop

The students took a break from studio work for a day and participated in Dan Wheeler’s sketching workshop for both the 5th and 3rd-year students. During the workshop, students wandered around Morrissette Campus, capturing the beauty of built objects and the landscape. Dan taught how to properly sketch in one and two-point perspective, capturing both wide views and close details.

First Week of Electives

Although studio has been in full effect, the woodshop and history classes have just begun. Their professor, Steve Long, began woodshop class by teaching the 3rd-years proper tool safety and PPE for the shop. Steve then tasked them with making a cutting board to help them get them more comfortable with using the table saw, planer, and jointer.

Each week, history professor, Dick Hudgens, takes the 3rd-Years on field trips to historic buildings in the surrounding area. During these house museum tours, Dick shares the history and construction details of each building and site. Not only do they learn the history of the buildings through tours, but the students also sketch the buildings to understand them better.