fall2021

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.

Workshop Season in Newbern

The fall semester is here, which means we have twelve new 5th-year students in Hale County.

We’re excited to share the three new 5th-year projects on the boards: Emergency housing built for a local nonprofit, C.H.O.I.C.E.; a new home exploring attic trusses; and the continuation of the Moundville Archaeological Park Community Pavilion.

As always, the semester kicked off with a week of “Neckdown” projects before leading us into the workshop season and project selection! Starting with a visit from Birmingham’s own, architect, John Forney, we did a deep dive on adaptability by studying the Myers’ Home. Anderson Inge, from the Anderson Inge Building Workshop in London, kept up the momentum when we worked in groups to explore the many possibilities that Moundville’s existing structure might offer: each group developed cladding strategies for the existing trusses using design strategies like framed openings and provocative material scale.

Chicagoan Dan Wheeler, of Wheeler Kearns Architects, led us through a warm and breezy morning of sketching exercises, including a foray into portraiture that taught us we should stick to our day jobs! Cheryl Noel and Ravi Ricker, from Wrap Architecture in Chicago, IL, visited next to pivot us back to all things code. They encouraged us to be mindful of code throughout our design process so that it doesn’t come back to bite us down the road. We also used their visit to demystify stair dimensions, a crucial component of one of our project options. Rounding out the workshops was a visit from Jake LaBarre from Neighborhood Design Build Studio and BuildingWork and Kim Clements and Joe Schneider from JAS Design Build in Seattle, WA, the perfect trio to help us diagram our way through our potential projects.

We ended this workshop season with the daunting, exciting, and mysterious challenge of team selection. After six weeks of workshops and a long night of discussion, we are happy to announce Rural Studio’s three newest teams!

Meet the new 5th-year teams

Emergency shelter in partnership with C.H.O.I.C.E.: AC Priest (Saltillo, MS), Davis Benfer (Jacksonville, FL), Hailey Osborne (Ashburn, VA), Yi Xuan (Raymond) Teo (Singapore)

Moundville Community Pavilion: Brenton Smith (Dothan, AL), Caitlyn Biffle (Rogersville, AL), Jackie Rosborough (IL), Collin Brown (Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada)

Client home: Adam Davis (Spanish Fort, AL), Daniel Burton (Prattville, AL), Lauren Lovell (Hoover, AL), Laurel Holloway (Huntsville, AL)

Stay tuned to the project blogs to learn more about each project this year!

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.

Work Begins for the Fall 3rd-Year Students

This new group of 3rd-year students at Rural Studio is a small, but mighty team of two students. Peter and Laura are working with 3rd-year professor Emily McGlohn and instructor Chelsea Elcott to design and build a small home for one of our West Alabama neighbors.

Meet the new 3rd-years

Meet Laura Forrest and Peter Harpring, the dynamic duo! These two, although having just met each other, are proving to be a solid pair.

Peter is from Louisville, Kentucky. He’s an introvert, a younger sibling, and loves summer, dogs, and coffee. Laura is from Corner, Alabama. She’s an extrovert, an older sibling, and loves winter, cats, and tea. Despite their differences, synergy runs well with these two.

Drafting Practice

Emily and Chelsea began the semester by introducing a type of design presentation their students are less familiar with: hand drafting. At Rural Studio, the most-used methods to visually portray an idea are sketching, diagramming by hand, and drafting.

To become more acquainted with hand-drafting toolslike lead holders and T squaresLaura and Peter revisited a design project from their previous architecture school year and practiced hand drawing and diagramming. Through returning to projects they were already familiar with, the 3rd-years could spend more time focusing on the process of drawing by hand rather than learning a new skill while designing a project at the same time.

Learning to Draw 1:1 Detail Drawings

Once the 3rd-years mastered their hand-drawing technique, they began a Full-Scale Drawing Workshop. To better understand what makes up a wood-framed house, the 3rd-year cohort traveled to building sites around Newbern that were under various stages of completion. Starting at Rev. Walker’s Home’s unfinished “bonus room,” Laura and Peter learned a new vocabulary of construction terms and were able to translate the incomplete wall assembly that they saw into a detailed section drawing through a wall. Then, the whole team visited the Model Homes closed-up and finished wall cavities and, with a little guidance, created a one-to-one scale drawing of a section through 20K Joanne’s Model Home, depicting the structure and details all the way from the ground up to the roof.

Full-scale section through 20K Joanne’s Model Home

A Little Bit of On-Site Construction Work

After Labor Day weekend, the 3rd-year crew took a break from their studio work in Red Barn and set out to get some on-site experience. In just a couple of days, the team finished a few small projects at recently completed 3rd-year projects: 20K Ophelia’s Home and Mrs. Patrick’s Home. Laura, with the help of Mason’s welding expertise, fabricated a steel handrail for Ophelia’s back porch. To make Mrs. Patrick’s porch a little safer and more easily accessed, Peter, Emily, and Chelsea added a few stairs to her front porch.

It’s going to be a jam-packed semester. Stay tuned on our blog!