This Spring has been busy for our 3rd-year team! Scroll down to see what we’ve been up to with Rosie’s Home, Woodshop, and History!
First off, our team has begun our study of Rosie’s current home with interviews and a series of empathetic drawings that we will continue to work on throughout the semester. Each of us has chosen an element of the home to study that will help us to make informed choices about the design of the new home.
We are using our findings from these drawings to begin the process of adapting the floor plan of 20K Turner’s Home to Rosie’s needs.
As we continue to create iterations of these plans, the team has also begun our foray into creating full-scale wall section details.
Recently, construction began on our post-frame structure. Our team helped bolt together the truss system while the sub-contractors implanted the posts and lifted the trusses into place. Afterwards, they attached the purlins to the truss system in preparation for the metal roofing to come.
My First Woodshop
For our first adventure in carpentry, each member of our team was tasked with designing and making a cutting board from a set amount of wood. In the span of a couple weeks, we learned a lot about woodworking, sanding, and staining, and ended up with a striking variety of cutting boards.
Our next goal is to begin the process of testing ways to build our chair precedents. For the next few weeks, we’ll be testing out different methods for the construction of their components.
History and Watercolor
We have visited several historic homes in the past month, such as the (pictured below) Carlisle Hall, Bluff Hall, Lyon Hall, and Tasso House. It is so interesting to learn about the details of these buildings and the reasoning behind their construction, along with developing our sketching skills on site.
We also just completed our first watercolor assignment, a study of light and shadow in a monochromatic painting.
Check back soon to see how we’re makings strides on floor plans and post-frame home details!
The start of 2022 brings six new 3rd-year students to Hale County, Alabama! Get to know the students who will be continuing the work on Rosie’s Home this Spring!
Anna Leach is from Gadsden, AL
Grant Schurman hails from Mount Carroll, IL
Jon Hunt Ficken is homegrown from Auburn, AL
Julia Whitt is from Abbeville, AL
Sarah Recht calls Atlanta, GA, home
Will Robinson comes to Rural Studio from Madison, AL
What’s happening in Hale?
These six 3rd-year students are following up on the work from the Fall 2021 semester for clients Rosie and Frankie. Rosie’s Home is planned as a continuation of Rural Studio’s residential post-frame research. This spring, students will see the post-frame structure, or “pole barn,” raised by a locally contracted team.
With this investment in labor and a covered site early on in the building process, site work can continue through weather delays and should lead to an overall cost reduction in the project. Following the construction of the roof, the 3rd-years will work to design the interior scheme based on 20K Turner’s Home plan, which was originally built by another group of Rural Studio students in 2012. Additionally, they will be charged with much of the exterior detailing of the home beneath the roof.
But wait, there’s more!
In addition to their studio work, the group will be taking two classes. First, there’s Woodshop with instructor Steve Long, where the infamous “chair project” is making a return! Students are assigned a famous wooden chair and must research the dimensions and production. Then, they will design a process for constructing it in Rural Studio’s very own shop.
The students will also study with local architect Dick Hudgens in the long-standing History and Watercolor class. The students will visit historic homes, churches, and agricultural buildings in the Black Belt each Monday afternoon. They’ll learn the history of how these structures were built and used, as well as the context in which this history happened. The students will also complete watercolor assignments along the way to document what they are learning and build representation skills.
With all this happening, it’s going to be a busy Spring! But that’s certainly not a new phenomenon out here. Keep an eye out to see what hands-on assignments have kicked off the year for these folks.
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 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.
When I began this journal, I made my intent clear. The aim of this log was to accurately document the efforts of Rev. Walker’s Home team from start to finish, from render to reality. I have come to cherish this opportunity to reflect and recount to a wide audience, and make our story is known. Looking back on every success, failure, hardship, triumph, and moment of comradery of my crew has further endeared me to my time as their captain. It is truly bittersweet to say then, dear reader, that this will be my last entry.
Work on Rev. Walker’s (Reggie) Home concluded on the 27th of September, in the early afternoon of a cool Fall day. With great fanfare, cheers, and tears, my crew will disband and embarked on new adventures. Reggie and I will continue to sail this ship for as far as she will take us. I digress, dear reader, my task is yet complete. I will now give an account of the completion of Rev. Walker’s Home. As per tradition, I will offer a description of the current state of the county to provide a context to place the actions of my crew.
To the delight of every soul in Hale County, the seasons have turned. The languid heat of summer has been replaced by a refreshing breeze. This is the only time of the year when the air is your friend around here. Another summer endured, and the feeling of change in the air, the Studio staff and students enjoyed a new burst of energy. In this encouraging atmosphere, my crew set about finish work. The tasks included painting, trimming, flooring, cabinetry, finish plumbing, finish electrical, installing screen doors, and cleaning up for the project opening.
Of course, a properly finished home needs a splash of paint. The shape of the interior of Rev. Walker’s Home made it a long process. Everything that was painted got a coat of primer and two coats of finish paint. Originally, the plan was to give everything a white coat, however, five gallons of a cream color were accidentally purchased. We ran with it and concluded that it was a happy accident. We feel that the result is an interior that feels warm and house-like.
The interior of the home uses birch plywood selectively. The two sides of the galley kitchen are plywood, implying the ability to mount things to it, whether that be hooks, shelves, or additional cabinets. The wall dividing living space from core space is also finished in birch plywood to further emphasize the core volume. Knowing that walls are often not straight, making it difficult to align the sheets of plywood, we used a plunge-saw on a track to get precise cuts. The saw allowed us to whittle sheets down to fit perfectly into their designated spaces. The sheets are fastened with pneumatic-driven finish nails.
The floor in Rev. Walker’s Home is a cold-welded rubber system, kindly donated to our project by Interface®. Commonly found in commercial and institutional settings, this floor is robust and watertight. We found the flat quality of the material was preferable to the highly textured aesthetic of more traditional floor systems. We got this done in a day.
With painting concluded (I use the word concluded lightly), we could move forward with other tasks like trim work. Baseboards, window and door trim, and kitchen wall trim were all done out of cypress boards. We were planning on painting these but ended up liking the look of the cypress and decided on a stain. We don’t have any photographic evidence of us doing this but I can assure you we did. Here’s some finish shots of the interior trim.
Also Paul Did This
With all of this done, plus a thousand other odds and ends, we swept and mopped the home, and left feeling satisfied and ready for the project opening. We held a housewarming party for Reggie the following afternoon. Rural Studio staff and students, families of the team, and friends of Reggie were in attendance. It was a joy to be able to celebrate Reggie and his new home, and to have an opportunity to offer our thanks to everyone who made the project possible. Seeing the porches come alive for the first time was an amazing moment.
Rev. Walker’s Home
A Fond Farewell
In 13 months, a home was designed, a slab poured, a large roof built overhead, and a living space made underneath. However, this is not the end of a story. Rev. Walker’s Home will continue to adapt to the needs and wishes of the client. Given enough time, we expect it will scarcely resemble its current form. For many, the idea of one’s conception becoming another thing over time is frightening. For us, it is the source of excitement that led us on this journey.
If cats could cry, I would be while writing this. Our endeavor was not modest, dear reader, nor our obstacles small. It would take a good team and a charismatic leader to be a success. My crew joined this expedition as fresh as they come. In the beginning, I led with a strict paw. Over time, they earned my trust, leaving me more time for napping. They depart now as confident and skilled sailors out to make names for themselves on the high seas. I suspect that many other great adventures await them, so keep an eye out.
As for me, I have elected to continue my journey with Reggie. I have found this new home an excellent place for laying about, and intend to do so for as long as I can. I’ll be sure to keep a close eye on Reggie and that confounded dog he keeps around. When the time comes to modify the house, I will resume my position as a swift delegator and fierce captain once again. Alas, dear reader, my crew demands a portrait and I must oblige them. This will be my final entry, until our next adventure.
Welcome back to the journal, dear reader. In my last entry, I reported that Hale County had entered a state of oppressive heat and humidity. Several weeks have passed since that report, and climatically, nothing has changed. It’s 95oF in Hale County today, but they say it feels like 106oF. Let me ask you, dear reader, that if it feels like 106, then is it not 106? Alas, my mind wanders. Such a question is a trifle in comparison to my duty to you, that is to recount in an earnest fashion, the activity of Reverend Walker’s Home team.
While the environment is still and sweltering, my crew is the opposite. Intrepid and strong, and with the help of a protective roof, they carry on. I will admit, this motley crew are always raising the bar. I previously issued orders for them to complete the exterior of the home in a timely manner, and that they have. It was not a trivial amount of work. The tasks were varied and many. But yet again, the team has risen to the occasion. Doors and windows were built and installed concurrently with the application of siding and flashing. With additional help from new students during “Neckdown” Week, roll roofing was installed, the site was graded, beneath-ground drains installed, and a small patio built.
Doors & Windows
As Addie and Becca finished windows in the woodshop, Paul and George would install them on site. The whole unit is fabricated in the shop, making installation quick and easy. Pre-hung doors were installed and custom trim applied to the face of them to match the window details. As the doors and windows went in the house, siding and flashing were installed as allowed by what openings were done.
Reverend Walker’s Home is clad in the same galvalume r-panel that makes up the roof. Large, cut to length sheets make a fairly easy process. The only tricky parts are at those window locations where c-shapes need to be made out of the sheet metal. Bottom flashing was installed prior to siding.
After the siding was put up, metal flashing and trim were next. The corner trim was installed first and then the top of wall flashing. The typical metal building corner trim has always been a team favorite. It is incredibly easy to install and is so big that it somehow disappears, or appears as just another ridge in the r-panel. Thank you fat corner trim. Top flashing was trickier with the different angles and cuts needed to make crisp connections between pieces. But with some practice cuts and good measurements it came together without much trouble.
As flashing wrapped up, “Neckdown” Week began. Each day we were assisted by one or two new arrivals, bright-eyed and incredibly clean. We were also able to welcome Becca and Addie back from their shop sabbatical/site hiatus! Reunited and reinforced, we set about our work. Becca and Addie led the charge on the application of asphalt roll roofing to the top of the volumes. The roofing provides the final layer of water protection to the two volumes underneath the roof.
As the roll roofing went on, Paul and George were joined by several Landscape Architecture students, who offered advice and assistance in making a small gravel patio. After a quick design discussion, the area was graded, and a first length of French drain was installed so that we could move forward with edging and infilling with gravel. The rest of the drain would be installed later.
When the roofing and patio jobs were complete, it was all hands on deck for site grading. With the help of the skid-steer, earth was moved from the excavated pile to the slab edge and graded away. Additionally, several large ruts were filled in and the site was smoothed out. The septic mound was extended with any remaining earth in the pile.
So, post grading, what we are left with is a mostly finished exterior of a house. There are always a few odds and ends to take care of, but there is no doubt that “Neckdown” Week was a huge success on site.
Certainly, much has happened in a short period of time. I tell you once more, dear reader, that this bunch is special. Of course this is not to say that it could have been done without my strong leadership. It takes a steady paw to guide a vessel this size through choppy waters. On the horizon I see finish carpentry, plumbing, electrical, and other odds and ends. I will continue to record the progress of Reverend Walker’s Home for posterity, the world deserves to know the intricacies of our grand adventure. Alas, dear reader, the sun draws closer to the horizon and I have grown weary. I must put aside my journal in favor of a nap. I think I will chose a nice spot in between two elephant ears Paul has acquired for this occasion.