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Recently At Rural

Dried In At Last!

Welcome back! Rosie’s Home is on to its punchlist, and the students are working diligently as the 30th Pig Roast inches ever closer!

Right before spring break, 3rd-year students enjoyed a barbeque afternoon on site with their clients and had the honor of trying Frankie’s delicious fried catfish and “which-a-way” burgers. There was plenty of dancing, especially line-dancing like “Cotton-Eyed Joe” and Frankie’s favorite, the Electric Slide, as the students showed new moves to Rosie, Frankie, and teachers Emily McGlohn and Judith Seaman.

After spring break, 3rd-year students took off running on Rosie’s Home. Yesenia, Denae, Julia, and Brysen finished installing the floor and trim, while Mac and Sarah worked with Judith on custom-building and installing the final, and largest, window.

With all of these details out of the way, their instructor, Steve Long, is helping install cabinets in the kitchen; Yesenia, Denae, Sarah, and Emily are putting up the door; and Julia, Brysen, and Mac are applying final touches to the attic space. The team is pushing to finish interiors so they can make the final designs for the landscape and porch as the team enters its last month in Hale!

One Step Closer to Taking a Seat

Woodshop class with Steve has been very productive as students are finishing details on their cutting boards and continuing to work on their chairs. Yesenia and Sarah have been having many “bending parties” where the entire class participates in helping bend and clamp a steamed wood leg for Alvar Aalto’s Stool 60. This process is meticulous and time-sensitive, but so far, has been a win! Denae and Julia successfully steam-bent their first piece of wood for the seat of Jean Prouvé’s Standard Chair; they are continuing the process and mark their angles on hardwood for legs. Mac and Brysen are working hard at perfecting the mechanics involved with the Lina Bo Bardi folding chair on the drill press and jigs. Each seat brings its challenges, but the students are taking plenty of time to construct the chairs as best as they can.

In what felt like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, the class was able to spend a full 8 hours in woodshop on a recent Friday, and they took full advantage! They also have had the fabulous opportunity to spend more time in woodshop on typical site days to fabricate elements of the house such as window trim and cabinet base trim.

Trips with Dick

History trips with instructor Richard Hudgens are always a high for the 3rd-years every Monday, and these last three houses certainly did not disappoint. The students came to a collective agreement that Thornhill Mansion in Forkland, Alabama, was their favorite trip to date by far. Yes, the house was beautiful, but the view from the home’s hilltop perch over the Black Belt prairie was especially breathtaking.

In addition, though Professor Hudgens has visited this location numerous times, he had never climbed the 100-foot fire tower this house hid until now. Students and Hudgens took on the hair-raising, exhausting, but 100% worth it experience of climbing this tower with the owner, Mr. Jones, for a view that stunned from the top. The weeks that followed took the class to old favorite, Folsom Farm in Marion, with its famous seed house and general store, as well as the stately Gaineswood Mansion, with a section like no other!

The students were also given their final watercolor assignments, extra-special this year for the 30th Anniversary of Rural Studio. They will be on display at Pig Roast — so come on out to Hale and see their hard work!

1st-Years in the House

In March, Rural Studio holds its annual 1st-Year Workshop, where freshman architecture students are commissioned to design a model stand responding to studio models they previously presented. With themes such as “nest,” “slide,” and “rotate,” these model stands came to life with the help of 3rd-year, 5th-year, and “leftover” students. The visiting class received tool training from Steve Long the first afternoon, followed by dinner and a show (spaghetti and a lecture from Andrew Freear). It’s safe to say the younger students had an up-close view of what daily life will be like at Rural Studio should they choose to apply!

The second day, students were divided so each group had one 3rd-year advising them. And what would a Rural Studio visit be without catfish!? Students enjoyed a wonderful catfish lunch provided by Chef Ann before getting back to work on their model stands. The day concluded with a review of each stand with Andrew Freear, John Marusich, Emily McGlohn, Judith Seaman, and special guest Katherine Hogan of Katherine Hogan Architects in Raleigh, NC. Hope to see them here again in two years!

So Much Fun, So Little Time

Spring has sprung, and this means the Farm is always busy. Students are assigned farm duty, which recently has involved planting peppers, tomatoes, and cucumbers, harvesting greens, and protecting plants from freezing overnight. This Alabama weather can be so unpredictable! Each week, guests from across the county visit Newbern to conduct workshops with 5th-years and give a lecture to all students and faculty during lunch. Recently, visitors have included: Katherine Hogan from Raleigh, NC, Pete Landon of Landon Bone Baker in Chicago, Amanda Loper and Cameron Acheson from David Baker Architects in Birmingham, and Rick Joy from Rick Joy Architects in Tucson.

Hammocking has been a recent obsession for the 3rd-Years. In Greensboro, pickleball isn’t for the weak! The students find themselves playing with Fellows from Project Horseshoe Farms many times during the week, when they aren’t absolutely demolishing competition at trivia in Greensboro that is (they never win). Weather is warming up which means more outside activities, keep an eye out, their soccer skills are defrosting as we speak!

And They’re Off!

Newbies in Newbern

The Spring 2024 3rd-year students found their way to Newbern, and for Rural Studio’s own 30th Anniversary year! These past few weeks have been filled with many firsts for this group. They learned quite a lot already about putting things together and have been thrown into Rural Studio history with the traditional first-week Project Tour!

During their first week in Hale County, the newbies discovered trivia at The Stable and weren’t doing too well, stuck in last place throughout the whole night with 53 points. Then came the final round, which was the special twist: answer the question right and you gain the points that your team wagered, but if you get it wrong you must subtract the points wagered. The group of five decided to wager it all to give themselves a fighting chance at surpassing the first-place holder who had 98 points—and it worked! The group won with 105 points! Unfortunately, the following trivia nights sadly do not share the same happy ending.

Winner, winner, pizza dinner!

Notorious Neckdown

During their second week in Hale County, the 3rd-year students had some good old-fashioned bonding time with the 5th-year students and faculty during “Neckdown” Week! Each day, the students battled the crazy weather and were split into groups to help out around Hale County.

The first group visited Perry Lakes Park with Emily McGlohn and Judith Seaman. They swept the walkways and replaced rotting boards on the boardwalk to the Birding Tower, Bathrooms, and Pavilion.

The second group was the Fabrication Pavilion with Andrew Freear, John Marusich, and Steve Long. The students helped take apart and assemble scaffolding that was then used to replace parts of the columns.

The third group had their first days on the farm, helping Eric Ball plant seeds, harvest carrots, and prepare microgreens to grow in the greenhouse. Group four was busy over at the Model Homes sprucing up for a Spring roster of exciting visitors. Students cleaned the homes, painted walls, and helped Mason Hinton and John Allen with general maintenance. Last but not least was the mobile task force later in the week with Emily and Judith. With a rotating team, they cleaned the Thesis Barn, Newbern Town Hall, and Brick Barn. They also scrubbed the fence to a shine along Highway 61 at Morrisette Campus.

“Neckdown” Week wasn’t for the weak, with such wacky weather almost every single day. From freezing weather to lots of rain, the new 3rd-year students got an unusual Neckdown forecast. At the end of the day, they had a great time getting accustomed to the new lifestyle in Newbern.

Rookies at Rosie’s

Working on Rosie’s home had been one of the most anticipated tasks for the 3rd-year students. With help from a few of last semester’s students, they quickly picked up where the Fall 2023 team left. Kati taught Julia how to trim the windows; Tanner, Sarah, Brysen, and Mac all worked on continuing the cypress wood paneling; Caitlin and Deane built louvers for the attic vents; and finally, Yesenia and Jack continued the electrical work. One big hit from the first week on Rosie’s site was the cats! The most famous is Crunch, who is extremely loving.

Over the next few weeks, the 3rd-year students all teamed together to finish putting up the cypress wood paneling that wraps the ceiling. This was a big step in the right direction when it came to finishing Rosie’s Home. The cypress wood ceiling perfectly reflects lighting down into the room creating a beautiful effect.

Once the ceiling was completed, it was time to trim and caulk the windows and louvers throughout the house. This step only took a few days, and soon after, the scaffolding was able to come out and the flooring began! The scaffolds leaving the house and completing flooring in the living and kitchen areas were such big accomplishments, we deserved a good rest on the floor. The flooring is called Marmoleum, a variety of linoleum which is manufactured with linseed oil that uses a click-lock backing system and is part of 3rd-year students’ ongoing study in healthier material alternatives. Along with its health advantages over vinyl, the whole class is loving how easy Marmoleum has been to install.

The class is super excited to keep checking tasks off of the list and pushing towards the finish line of Rosie’s Home.

Head-Turning History

Dick Hudgens is the professor for the history seminar here at Rural Studio. However, his classes are not like any regular history classes these students have had before. Hudgens takes the students on trips to visit historic homes around the Black Belt region and includes the use of natural watercolors in his sketching assignments. At the beginning of the semester, a watercolor-making class is held led by local textile and dye artist Aaron Sanders Head. During this class, the students are shown a few ways that watercolor pigments can be made using natural resources like local plant matter, kitchen scraps, and leftover building materials.

So far, we have visited four homes: Glencairn, Magnolia Grove, Bluff Hall, and Lyons Hall. We learned a lot from these four homes and are excited for the other trips as the semester progresses. If you’d like to see everyone’s work, all sketches and watercolors done throughout the semester can be found at Pig Roast coming up at the end of next month!

Locations of the homes visited so far:

1.          Glencairn, Greensboro, AL

2.          Magnolia Grove, Tuscaloosa, AL

3.          Bluff Hall, Demopolis, AL

4.          Lyons Hall, Demopolis, AL

Working Hard in Woodshop

The 3rd-year students have been spending a lot of time in the woodshop these past couple of weeks and have been keeping the woodshop instructor, Steve Long, on his toes. Each semester students are given two projects to work on within the shop. The first is a cutting board, which allows them to get familiar with the equipment in the shop. The second, and most important, project is to recreate an architect’s famous chair design from found documents. Most of these chairs are manufactured on a machine scale, so the project requires students to design the processes to build these seats by hand using the resources of the Newbern shop! Both finished products will be on display at Pig Roast, so be sure to come by at the end of the semester.

So far, we have made the cutting boards, performed research for our chosen chairs, and created storyboards for them. Most recently, we have started making mock-ups to prepare for the final chair build. We are excited to see how the chairs will turn out!

Here’s each group and their chosen chair!

Denae and Julia: Standard Chair No. 4 by Jean Prouve

Sarah and Yesenia: Stool No. 60 by Alvar Aalto

Brysen and Mac: Frei Edigio (Folding Chair) by Lina Bo Bardi

To end on a good note, get to know the new group! Here are some of their fun little theories…

What’s your fun little theory?

Denae Inniss is from the Bahamas. Theory: Animals that run out in front of your car are controlled by insurance companies.

Julia Van Pelt is from Columbus, Georgia. Theory: Farmersonly.com puts farms out of business.

Sarah May is from Huntsville, Alabama. Theory: Dogs have names for humans.

Yesenia Serrano is from Collinsville, Alabama. Theory: Whales have contact with life in the deep sea and life in space.

Brysen Calvin is from Chicago, Illinois. Theory: There is one cow on the moon; it never jumped.

Mac Harlow is from Atlanta, Georgia. Theory: The Denver airport.

Thanks for checking in, look out for big strides out at Rosie’s Home as we celebrate the home stretch of this 3rd-year project! See you soon.

Fresh Faces in Newbern!

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 Woodshop in the heart of downtown Newbern!

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.

The Spring 2022 3rd-year class stands with professor Emily McGlohn and instructor Judith Seaman.

Soup Roast!

As the semester came to a close, Laura and Peter worked hard to prepare for this year’s Soup Roast, which is Rural Studio’s final review event to conclude the fall semester. While Laura worked on the drawings, Peter created a ½-inch scale model of the post-frame roof design.

For their Soup Roast presentation, Laura and Peter presented at Rosie’s site with the model, construction documents, and actual dimensions marked out on site to show where the roof is going.

The team received feedback on the roof placement, dimensions, and how to move forward with the project from the visiting guest reviewers. Peter and Laura had the privilege of having Kim Clements, Joe Schneider, and Nicole Abercrombie of JAS Design Build and Jake LaBarre of BuildingWork, who all traveled from Seattle, WA. The Studio was also joined by several Auburn CADC faculty: David Hinson, Rusty Smith, Mackenzie Stagg, and Betsy Farrell Garcia. Their insight on Rosie’s Home was useful, and will impact how the 3rd-year studio continues in upcoming spring semester.

Electives Come to a Close

The wooden library carts and children’s table built in the Woodshop class project with Steve Long were completed, and the finished products look fantastic!

For the final History class with Dick Hudgens, the students visited the Thornhill Plantation home in Greene County, AL.

At Soup Roast, Peter and Laura showed off their sketches and the watercolors they completed in history class.

This semester’s electives have greatly helped the students look at details more carefully, whether in sketching, painting, or woodworking.

Passing the Torch

The 3rd-year team recently had some of the trees removed on site, clearing the way for earthwork, engineered soil, and post-frame roof to be put into place. For now, the roof structure is on track to be built in early January, right before the next group of 3rd-year students arrive for the spring semester. Their job will be to develop the floor plan and start building.

Thanks to the great leadership by Emily McGlohn and Chelsea Elcott. Stay tuned until next semester!

Halloween Review, Now What?

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 Review

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.