Rural Studio recently capped off the academic year with a “family style” Pig Roast. The celebration focused on the amazing work accomplished, live and in-person, during a successful, yet challenging, year due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. For the first time since March 2020, the entire studio was gathered together. With only students, faculty, current project community partners, and a few invited guests in attendance, we missed our other families: parents, alumni, collaborators, and neighbors who continue to support us in West Alabama. Invited guests included our friends Roy Decker of Duvall Decker and John Forney, architect and former Auburn and Rural Studio professor. The day included a tour of on-going projects, a lot of good food, a presentation from Roy Decker, and a bonfire.
Celebratory Breakfast at Horseshoe Courtyard
The day began with a celebratory breakfast at the Horseshoe Courtyard. Everyone admired the blooming screens and impeccably crafted steel while enjoying baked goods from the new local Egyptian bakery Abadir’s. The beautiful brick pad was the perfect place to toast students, Caleb R. Munson and Claudia Paz Melendez, alongside our community partner Dr. John Dorsey and the Project Horseshoe Farm fellows. The clients and the Studio both couldn’t be prouder of these two and their determination.
Ribbon cutting at Ophelia’s Home
Next up, the ribbon-cutting ceremony at 20K Ophelia’s Home! Four semesters of 3rd-year students, along with professor Emily McGlohn and instructor Chelsea Elcott, designed and built this lovely iteration of Joanne’s Home. Ophelia, her family, and the 2021 Spring Semester 3rd-Years cut the ribbon and let everyone inside to admire the new home. The students also gave a brief presentation on the cabinetry they designed and fabricated with Chelsea and professor Steve Long in the Rural Studio Wood Shop class.
Back to Morrisette for Lunch and TMBV
Back at Morrisette House, Chef Catherine and Doris served up a wonderful BBQ lunch. It was the first meal the Studio shared all-together since March 2020. Next on the schedule was a presentation from the Thermal Mass & Buoyancy Ventilation Research Project team.
The graduate students gave a brief description of their experiments, results, and how these informed the Test Building design at their site behind Morrisette House. They also showed off their newly installed structural steel columns and bracing. After a conversation on the possibilities of implementing internal thermal mass as passive ventilation and temperature control, everyone strolled over to the Fabrication Pavilion. Here, the team presented two of their mock-ups: one detailing the ventilated roofing and cladding system and one showing the shiplap joinery of the concrete panels. Congrats master’s students!
Off to Rev. Walker’s and Myers’ Homes
Next, the 5th-year teams had a turn to shine! First up, seen below, the Studio stopped at Rev. Walker’s Home. The expansive, newly completed slab the team presented upon will soon be the location of the pole barn home. This design focuses on the luxury of covered outdoor space. Two efficient living volumes rest under the large roof, which goes up in just a couple of weeks, allowing for dry, shaded construction! Client Rev. Walker joined in on the post-presentation debate, which was was a treat.
Last up on this long, fun, and hot day was the Myers’ Home presentation. The two-story, three-team member project focuses on interior expansion by creating a well-sealed envelope. The students will complete their portion of the build with two bedrooms and a large living kitchen space. There are opportunities for the client to expand the home in the attic and living areas. The attic can be converted into two additional rooms and another room can be added by enclosing part of the living space. During the presentation, the team changed out corrugated metals on their mock-up in real-time and took a vote from the crowd to decide which cladding color to choose. Both 5th-year teams have made tremendous progress on their innovative home designs and we can’t wait to see even more this summer.
Some fried catfish, books, a lecture, and S’mores
We returned to Morrisette House for a delicious catfish dinner prepared on site by our neighbors from the Newbern Mercantile. Afterwards, Director Andrew Freear presented the graduates with books picked out for each student from a list of favorites from the late Samuel Mockbee, one of Rural Studio’s co-founders. It was wonderful to see this tradition live on this year! Afterward, architect Roy Duvall of Duvall Decker from Jackson, Mississippi, gave a wonderful lecture presenting the work of his and partner Anne Marie Decker’s inspiring firm. The day finally capped off with a roaring fire and plenty of marshmallows. Not too bad for a Tuesday night!
It was amazing to see all the work completed at the Studio during this unusual and trying year. It was even better to get to be together and pat each other on the back. War Eagle!