Between portraits of Russian monarchs, a stroll through a Greek themed yard, and getting to feed some chickens, Oak Hill is definitely the most unique house tour the students have had the honor of partaking in. Before COVID, the owner had thrown a Russian monarch themed party and chose to keep some decorations. One room is filled with colorful furniture, beautiful glass vases, and extravagant curtains. In another room portraits of Russian monarchs hang by string like they would have been in the 1800s.
Outside, classical Greek-styled statues stand side by side with modern takes on the statues. Some pieces are left to be “dissolved” back into nature. After the tour, the students drew an elevation of the main house and of the cabin, which we believe turned out pretty great.
Shop class has been filled with exciting new ideas and crazy curves. Steam bending, while frustrating at times, has opened a whole new world of woodworking to the students. It will be exciting to see how our curvy wood works will turn out!
Ophelia’s Home Site
To finish truss prep-work, large bolts were put through the beam to fully brace it, and the columns were given another layer of bracing. All the prep work payed off because the trusses went up fairly easily. Steve Long came out to site with the Bobcat, the studio’s skid steer loader, to provide some much appreciated help. Steve long used the Bobcat to first lift a truss, guided by 3rd-year Ethan, above the walls. Then a team of 3rd years with Professors Emily McGlohn and Chelsea Elcott directed the trusses into place and adjusted them until plumb. Temporary bracing was put on the trusses as everyone held them in place.
Once all the trusses were on the walls, and they were put in the correct spots, permanent bracing started going up. Next week, the rest of the permanent bracing will be placed by the roof and enclosure teams while the framing team starts work on the front porch! We are so excited to have the roof raised and to be finally building Ophelia’s front porch!
This week 3rd-year students started a new project in woodshop class which taught them the technique of steam bending. The project brief is quite open ended; make something “useful” using steam bending. The open nature of instructions will help students really use their creativity. After the great results from the cutting boards, it will be exciting to see what students come up with next!
In history this week, Dr. Hudgens had the students complete their final Design Problem for the semester. Third years have now completed 3 of these Design Problems and look forward to their final review on their last Monday at Rural Studio, November 23rd.
At Ophelia’s Home this week students continued to prepare for the incoming roof trusses. They put up a beam on the front porch of Ophelia’s home which the trusses connect to in order to create a covered outdoor space. Trusses will span from the back, western wall to the front, eastern wall and over the front porch, resting on the beam. The roofing team placed the brackets, called hurricane ties, on the top plates of each wall for the trusses to secure into. The Enclosures Team and the Framing Team worked together to level the columns on the porch. They also attached the beam on which the trusses will rest. A meeting with Professor Emily McGlohn’s father – a structural engineer – helped solidify the roof team’s trusse placement and bracing. Now that Ophelia’s Home is prepped for the trusses, it’s time to raise the roof!
The Studio has been making the best of COVID-19 obstacles by prioritizing outdoor work for the past six weeks! Working outside has given students and staff the ability to learn about construction processes while also maintaining healthy and safe work protocols. Luckily, Rural Studio has quite a few tasks to accomplish around Hale and Perry County to keep them busy.
In the first couple of weeks of the semester, everyone came together (socially-distanced, of course) to clean up Morrisette campus. This work included laying and tamping gravel in the driveways, demolishing some old mock ups and a couple unused storage sheds, power washing the Great Hall and Fabrication Pavilion, and helping Eric on the farm.
Students have also been helping out at Perry Lakes Park, which has been closed for maintenance for the past few months. The Studio hopes that, after a little bit of work, they can help reopen the beautiful park to the public. Jobs to be completed were: replacing rotting boards on the bridge, walkways, and tower; replacing structural members underneath the walkways; rebuilding walkways that had been hit by fallen trees; and replacing rotting deck boards on the tower. This work is still in progress, but they expect to have the majority of the tasks complete in the coming week.
As the semester progresses, students have been working toward creating a balance between studio work and site work. On designated “studio days,” 3rd-year, 5th-year, and graduate students have been meeting with their faculty at new open-air pin up spots on Spencer House’s porch and under the Fabrication Pavilion. Next week, 5th- and 3rd-year will transition away from studio-wide work toward focusing on their own class projects. The 5th-years will soon choose their project teams and 3rd-years will start making more progress on 20K Ophelia’s Home!
This week students have started to look into pole barns! Over the past two years, Rural Studio has started to explore the use of pole barns as a way to address modular homes and planning to expand as family dynamics shift. Students heard from last year’s pole barn team as well as structural engineers about pole barn design and structure.
This week at the Horseshoe Courtyard project: concrete and trees! After cleaning many bricks and witnessing the concrete pour, students were also eager to see the arrival of the Crepe Myrtle trees to the courtyard. With help from Mason and the augur, students finished digging the holes for and planting the first three trees in the courtyard.
Perry Lakes Park
A few 3rd-years took a trip out to Perry Lakes Park to continue sprucing it up. They discovered the “secret lake bridge,” and were given the chance to repair it. Now anyone can go looking for the secret lake! Students also helped power wash some of the wood in order to keep the path less slippery.
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.