pigroast

New Leftovers in Hale’s Kitchen

Howdy from the Moundville Pavilion team! Recently, we were on a nonstop train ride as our final official semester of college came to a close with Pig Roast festivities, Executive Reviews, and graduation. And soon, construction will begin! Woohoo!

Pig Roast

Presenting our boards at Pig Roast on the site behind the pavilion

Rural Studio’s Annual Pig Roast was a hit! The team presented the final design to friends, family, and alumni. Thank you to all who came out and celebrated with us and a very special shout-out to Hank Koning and Julie Eizenberg for speaking at our Pig Roast graduation ceremony.  

Posing in our “I love Rural” Pig Roast shirts
Section drawings explaining the pavilion’s relationship to the surrounding campgrounds

Executive Review Part 2

Following Pig Roast, the team had their final Executive Review with Justin Miller, Rusty Smith, David Hinson, Emily McGlohn, and Judith Seaman. The reviewers provided much-needed feedback to help move the project forward as we prepare for construction.

Discussing the details of the pavilion roof and ceiling

Moving Forward

In addition to all the celebration and reviews, the team has been meeting with the Studio’s structural engineer, Joe Farruggia, to finalize the column design, and Bill Zahner, of Zahner Architectural Metals, for some advice on aluminum panel systems that are appropriate for our ceiling and roof.

We graduated!

We’re officially Auburn alumni!

See ya next time! 

Sincerely,

Official leftovers of Hale’s Kitchen.

Pouring at Rosie’s Home

The Spring semester is complete! During their last few weeks in Newbern, the 3rd-year class completed projects for the Woodshop class, visited the final house for History class, worked on the foundations and walls of Rosie’s Home, and prepared for the Pig Roast presentations. Scroll down to see these final products and more!

Finishing Up the Chairs

Each of the teams spent time on their chair’s assembly and sanding, all complete with finishing oils to make them really shine. In the final review, we discussed what we liked about our chair, what could be improved, and what we learned over the course of the semester.

Forkland, AL

Our final fieldtrip let us to Thornhill mansion in Forkland, Alabama. The amazing views, tasteful modern additions, and lovely adjacent schoolhouse made for a great afternoon with an abundance of learning.

The Foundation of Our Learning

With gravel in place, we began the next step of preparing for the foundation by digging the slab’s turndowns and constructing the formwork. Next, we backfilled the formwork using the dirt from the turndowns and installed the rebar and wire mesh.

During our final week of construction, we poured the foundation of Rosie’s Home! After two concrete trucks, a lot of hand-smoothing, and a day to cure, we were able to stand on the foundation, remove the formwork, and begin the process of framing the walls. Using our detailed framing plans, we constructed and leveled the North, East, and South walls of the home. In the Fall, the upcoming 3rd-year class will finish the Western wall’s framing and construct the exterior envelope before moving on to the interior.

While we waited for the concrete to set, we spent the afternoon building a new house for Rosie’s dog, Bo, whose house was beginning to fail. We were able to carry it over to the backyard for Bo by the end of the day, just in time, since a big storm blew in shortly after.

I love Rural! Pig Roast 2022!

The semester ended with a bang at the annual Pig Roast festivities. We enjoyed two days of touring current projects and celebrating the completion of several projects. The weekend ended with a graduation ceremony for the 5th-year students and celebration of our community partners.

First, we showed off a gallery of our projects for Woodshop, History, and Studio.

Next, we drove over to site. After some kind words from Rosie and Frankie, we presented our progress on Rosie’s Home to our visitors. The benefits of our post-frame construction were clearly shown when a storm hit suddenly. Thankfully, with our pre-constructed roof, we were able to continue the presentation and celebration as planned.

Looking back on our semester here at Rural Studio, we have come so far since January. We will all miss Newbern dearly, but our team is very excited to see the next semester of students develop the project even further. We can’t wait to return to see Rosie and Frankie enjoying their new home.

Check back here in August to get to know the folks working on Phase 3 of Rosie’s Home!

Next Time You See Me, It’ll Be On Site

Since our last update, the team has been digging, chopping, drilling, and sawing our way through the project, so let’s catch up!

First up, mock-ups. To better understand the details of the project in three dimensions, the team jumped into a 1:1 mock-up of crucial project details and so far, we’re learning a lot. More than just dusting off our chop saw skills, building several details at full scale is a way for us to reflect and improve upon some of the decisions we made on paper. For example, we learned from testing the window framing that making the rough opening stud continuous not only creates fewer pieces, but allows a direct load path from header to foundation. We’re also testing the character of the porch assembly and how we can marry our desired aesthetic with required bracing for wind uplift.

To prepare to break ground, we called in a local contractor to do some serious tree removal that was beyond our capabilities, and simultaneously ripped up the existing chain link fence to create equipment access and give us a chance to fully assess its condition and salvageability. The site has never looked spiffier.

site before clearing
cleared site

And how could we not give a toast to Pig Roast?! The first ever two-day Pig Roast went swimmingly, minus the part where our team ran into a rain shower and came out looking like we’d gone for a swim. It was the first time many members of the Uniontown community were able to see the project, along with our parents, friends, and many Rural Studio alumni.

team at pig roast
pig roast fireworks

The following week stayed just as busy as teams prepped for our second Executive Review. This was a make or break moment for the future of the project, but after an intense two-hour review, all three teams were given the green light! This means it’s full steam ahead for construction.

team meets for stress test

Oh yeah, and all twelve 5th-years graduated college three days later! What a week! Diplomas might be in the mail, but things are just getting started in West Alabama. The team is taking a few days off to relax and be with family, but y’all better believe the next time you see us, it’ll be on site!

Also, a big thank you to our parents for letting us stick around West Alabama for this next phase: building the C.H.O.I.C.E. House. And to our 3rd-year friends returning to campus this fall, we’ll see you next time in Hale!

Pig Roast 2021

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.

a group of about 20 students gather together on wooden steps
The 3rd-year, 5th-year, graduate, and “left-over” students

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!

a group of people stand in front of a large bonfire

A Test and a Toast

With a slab all squared away and the school year wrapped up, it’s about time for Myers’ Home team to start realizing some of the above-ground details. At the Studio, this means constructing a 1:1 mock-up of the corner with the most complicated detailing.

Rain Day? It’s OK!

What to do on a rainy day? Mock-ups are just the thing! If the site is too mucky, head to the Fabrication Pavilion. Toting their tools from the trailer on site they set up for a few days of dry, covered work. On the business side of things, the team is waiting on an order of dimensionally stable cypress. They will be constructing a separate mock-up of the shop-built window units for the home. Keep those ears open for news of these hooligans hitting the woodshop for a pre-fab frenzy!

First step, framing the faux corner. They build the base of the mock-up using the same methods as a full-sized stud wall. Madeline and Judith assembled some very small headers and Riley cut piece after piece for the scaled-down trusses. Full-sized trusses will be 24 feet wide and roughly 13 feet tall, with Myers’ Home clocking in at just over 23 feet total. What can they say, it’s a two-story!

Zipped and Flashed

They then fasten on the ZIP sheathing system and tape all the seams up. The Studio has moved away from OSB sheathing and home wrap in recent years and adopted ZIP sheathing in turn. The panels themselves are weatherproofed and thick tape that is rolled tight seals the edges. The system covers both walls and roof and is is one of the clearest ways this team has been able to maintain the protected “shell” of Myers’ Home.

Riley and Judith took a jaunt up to Sloan Metal in Warrior, AL, with a pit stop in Tuscaloosa to grab their flashing order at Metro Metals. Trailer in tow, the mock-up roof metal and a few test sheets for siding were clinched and toted back to Hale. The flashing details have been designed in support of the tight shell, unbroken by rafters and durable over time. The low-eave detail has a 2-inch overhang and J-bead corners keep the edges clean.

Pick a Color, Any Color!

Actually, pick one of two colors. The team has narrowed down to Ash Grey and Burnished Slate, two neutrals that both have a lovely degree of reflection. As it goes, and not to brag, but the site is just beautiful. Wide fields to the east and west, high trees surrounding that cast dappled light. It really doesn’t need much more added to its palette. The team began looking at neutrals and complimentary colors and settled on the these two grey tones to test.

Riley going at it

Cutting the corrugated panels to size, they decide to forego fastening the siding so that panels could be changed and tested. With Pig Roast imminent, the mockup was moved out to the site to be able to test both options throughout the day.

Changing the siding to stopwatch and audience eyes at Pig Roast!

Most surprising has been watching them throughout the day, the colors both seem to shift through morning and afternoon between warm, cool, and highly reflective of grass and sky.

Still Reading? Let’s Have a Party!

Pig Roast dawned, a beautiful Tuesday in Hale County. An in-house event, but livelier than ever, the small band made their way from project to project with some delicious pit-stops around town. Congratulations to Horseshoe Courtyard, a fantastic kick off the day’s festivities and a bubbly surprise! With the jessamine blossoming the crew toasted the year, the work, and the people and enjoyed a sweet morning snack from the new local bakeshop, Abadir’s Pastry

Then the gang caravanned to Newbern for the ribbon cutting of third-year project, Ophelia’s Home. Can’t forget a stop at Sweetbriar Tea & Coffee, parked across from Spencer House for the morning! How exciting to see two years of work at its end. What a joy for the teams who’ve had their hands on this project, those who have followed its progress, and of course, Ms. Ophelia!

Four semesters of students have worked on Ophelia’s Home, congrats on completing!

Back to Morrisette House for a barbecue lunch and a trip across the yard to the Thermal Mass & Buoyancy Ventilation team’s site. After a rousing discussion of scientific breakthrough and imminent pods all gathered at the Fabrication Pavilion to marvel at their complete mock-up! A job well done, Myers’ team can’t wait to see more of Morrisette Campus’ newest—and tallest—addition.

Fun for all ages!

With short run up Hwy-61 the group stopped at Rev. Walker’s Home to hear about their progress as of late. These pole barn pals have their slab in-ground and working hard at getting their roof up next! Looking forward to the coming weeks where the big barn will take shape.

Sweet and Sweaty

The final stop of the day was good ol’ Myers’ Home site. All braved the sweltering mid-afternoon rays to offer their feedback and encouragement as the three team members move into framing the home! The team offered a presentation of the “shell” method and a NASCAR-worthy switch of metal siding panels on the mock-up.

With all projects squared away back to the Great Hall it was for a dinner of fried catfish, hushpuppies, and slaw from neighboring Newbern Mercantile! The evening was capped with a few words and annual traditions from fearless leader, Andrew Freear, a lecture from Jackson, MS-based architect, Roy Decker, of Duvall Decker, and a big, big bonfire complete with s’mores!

While certainly not a normal year, the folks on this team are incredibly grateful for the opportunity to spend the year in Hale and work every day with their minds on the run and boots in the mud. Many, many thanks to the Rural Studio family—faculty, staff, friends, parents, and neighbors—for the love and support. After their graduation celebration back in Auburn, these three are running full steam ahead to a summer in sun swinging hammers!

Myers’ Home team, graduates back in action and cruising for a roof!