This week at Horseshoe Courtyard, 3rd-years were able to help Claudia and Caleb finish up formwork for the long-awaited concrete pour in the sidewalk and stage area! These will ensure that the concrete path is the exact shape, height, and size that Claudia and Caleb have planned out. Students also worked to set up batter boards to help keep the future placement of trees aligned. Next week, when the Crepe Myrtles will be delivered, strings, pulled taught across the site attached to the batter boards, will tell us exactly where each tree needs to be placed.
Twin puppies from the area decided to come check out what was happening on site. The sweet pups were quickly returned home, but the brief visit was a wonderful way to start the day.
Studio, Shop, and History
During Studio this week, students continued to work on drawing detailed construction documents for 20K Ophelia’s Home. They worked with Emily and Chelsea to learn about wall sections and layers and how to address openings in the building envelope. The 3rd-years have also been continuing to work diligently on their cutting boards for shop class where they are becoming more empowered to used power tools correctly and safely. They were able to visit Folsom Farm with history professor, Dick Hudgens, at the start of the week. At the farm, they saw the many outbuildings farmers used in the early 1800s, and the details necessary for each structure.
Perry Lakes Park
Despite some early ending workdays due to rain last week, 3rd-years returned to Perry Lakes Park this week to continue work on the projects started in the prior week. While there are a few more projects at Perry Lakes Park to be completed, the walkways to the Birding Tower and the tower itself were the main subject of repair.
This week a small group of 3rd-year students helped Caleb and Claudia at the Horseshoe Courtyard. The work began with a trip to Selma to restack approx. 3,000 bricks (in storage) from pallets that had deteriorated in preparation for moving them to site in the near future. Upon returning to the site, the team helped remove formwork from a recent concrete pour and continued painting the exterior of the building along the alley on the north edge of the site. The 3rd-years also helped clean off and sort some of the bricks that were already on site, which will be used for the brick pad portion of the courtyard. The Horseshoe Courtyard space is quickly transforming since the walkway and metal work have gone up, the site has been graded, and gravel spread.
20K Ophelia’s Home
Starting week two, a new group of 3rd-years were given the opportunity to work on 20K Ophelia’s Home. Students created a new French drain, which took quite a lot of digging. Many of Ophelia’s cute “babies” (aka her cats) came to greet the new 3rd-years.
As the week continued, several students helped work at Morrisette House, where a small shed was being demolished, while others installed sun shades blinds around the front porch of Spencer House to provide a shady area for future project critiques.
Week two has left the new students sore and tired, but more excited than ever for the semester. Hard work and game nights are drawing the seven students closer than they expected after only two weeks together. Between working on an actual job site and exploring detailed construction documents, the students are learning that hands-on experience provides a new perspective compared to a typical studio.
The 3rd-year students are back in Newbern! Find out what they’re planning this semester in their first blog post here!
Out of Site
This week 3rd-years were introduced to two of their other courses taken at Rural Studio: Shop with Stephen Long and History with Dick Hudgens. While traditionally the Shop class focuses on a long-term project centered on the study and construction of a famous chair, this year students will be focusing on three smaller projects that can all be done during shop time. This will allow students to study wood construction more broadly as well as design some of the projects they are working on.
Dick Hudgens introduced his course with a bang as students walked around downtown Newbern making sketches of adjacent buildings and starting to learn some on-site drawing techniques. Similar to Long’s course adjustments, Hudgens has also adjusted the course syllabus to allow for more social distancing and safe meetings. As a result, all students drive their own cars to different historical sites and focus has been shifted from watercolor to more hand-drawing techniques.
20K Ophelia’s Home
Despite a rainy start to the semester, 3rd-years were able to get back onto 20K Ophelia’s Home project site mid-week on the first working week of the semester. Due to COVID-19 regulations in Spring 2020, progress on-site was sadly halted. However, these returning students and faculty have been eager to continue to work on this Rural Studio project. During the first few days on-site, 3rd-years were able to clean up the site and sort through materials in order to catalog how much material had been lost to weathering.
With a new clean site, 3rd-years began prepping for the next week’s of work by building an on-site pin-up board as well as covering any exposed materials in preparation for another weekend of rain. Neither the rain nor the COVID-19 guidelines can dampen the spirits of the eager 3rd-years as they start the semester full of excitement and anticipation.
During what students and faculty loving refer to as “neck-down week,” a group of 3rd-years spent the week cleaning the fabrication pavilion and the yard in front of Morrisette House. While cleaning might not seem like the most glamorous task, it was a necessary task. The satisfaction that came with seeing a clean, beautiful pavilion was well worth the work. With an organized campus, the students are ready to start building.
Things are in motion at 20K Ophelia’s Home! Specifically, the motion of lifting walls up and framing a porch. The exterior walls have been framed and sheathed, and the north and south walls have been lifted into place.
This process was started by measuring and tracing out the stud placement on the edges of the subfloor and laying out all the timber before nailing them together. Occasionally nailing some timber to the subfloor then having to take them out was surely a great way to improve our nail-removing skills. Once the walls had been framed with the studs at 24” on center, and window and door openings were located and framed, the green layer of Zip sheathing was laid on top.
The walls were not the only thing to be framed, as the MEP team was hard at work framing up the porch which proved to be more tedious than expected. In order for the porch to create a level surface with the soon to come interior floor, the joists had to be shortened slightly to accommodate for the layer of wood that will create the porch surface.
Speaking of the porch! There was also some more development of the ideas about a solution for the porch entrance that came from a review with Andrew Freear, Elena Barthel, and assistant director of Tulane’s design build program Emilie Taylor Welty. After much discussion of the three options, which are angle, north, and tongue porch, the 3rd-years were able to narrow it down to the “tongue” option. In order to reach a final porch design, this iteration will go through another process of refinement in the upcoming week.
3rd-years signing off for a jiminy split, see you folks after spring break!
This week 3rd-year students began the process of designing new cabinets for 20K Ophelia’s Home. The first assignment in this adventure, following Steve’s introductory lecture on Alabama’s Lumber Industry, is to do some research.
The students have been tasked to research not only the past millwork Rural Studio has typically used in their projects but also to interview Ophelia about her storage needs. Because Chelsea and Steve want all the help they can get, this week the class also got a visit from the Cochran brothers, millwork experts from Wood Studio in Arley, Alabama.
Dylan and Keith Cochran are old friends of Rural Studio. For over 15 years, they have served as the Studio’s go-to consultants for all things furniture and cabinetry-related. During their visit, they reviewed the students’ initial millwork research and gave feedback on design.
After reviewing two presentations, Dylan and Keith gave a very thorough demonstration on how to build a cabinet, which was not only incredibly informative but also a lot of fun for everyone.
During their workshop, the Keith and Dylan described what materials are required to put together cabinets. Following this explanation, they demonstrated the assembly process, which involved joining the following parts: a toekick, cabinet box, face frame, shelves, and a door with hinges. Throughout this tutorial, they emphasized the most important part of cabinet-making: sanding and finishing!