Cheers to the Moundville Pavilion students!

We celebrated the current Moundville Archaeological Park Community Pavilion team at a special dinner with Rural Studio students, staff, and faculty. A beautiful meal was made by Sarah Cole of Abadir’s, with produce from our Rural Studio Farm.

The Moundville Archeological Park Community Pavilion project has been in the Studio for the last five years and was explored by two 5th-year teams. Both teams brought intellectual curiosity, hard work, and deep respect for the cultural treasure that is Moundville, and both teams had to manage circumstances beyond their control. The first team, graduates from 2019, had to halt construction due to the constraints of the COVID pandemic. The second team, who inherited the partially built project, recently learned the project was canceled.

On Friday evening we feted these remarkable students: Brenton Smith, Caitlyn Biffle, Jackie Rosborough, and Collin Brown. We toasted the care, insight, grit, and maturity of the team through the arc of the project. While the first team gave them an excellent start, the second team was able to approach it with fresh eyes. They critiqued and built upon previous decisions, taking time to understand the structure without fear of revising elements that could be improved. They preserved the project intentions as a place for teaching and holding events, and as a gathering space for Moundville Archaeological Park, its campers, and other visitors. Their goal was to have the Pavilion be modest and quiet, preserving the character of place, but also delightful, reflecting and disappearing into the landscape with the ceiling as a new sky. Above all, they too served the client with great love and respect for the place, recognizing its incredible significance, beauty, and meaning.

We were delighted to have Emily Lopez, of the first team, join the festivities. The many miles between Newbern and California (for Lauren Ballard) and Harvard University (for Katie Cantine and Sarah Page) kept the rest of the team from joining us in person, yet they sent messages of support.

We are immensely proud of our students’ thoughtful and careful designs, their collaboration, their intellectual curiosity, and more than anything their poise: the first team’s composure in handling the pandemic pause and the second team’s respect and maturity in handling the close of the project. These graduates will not have beautiful Tim Hursley photographs to complete their portfolios, but they will always carry the skills, insight, and respect that they cultivated over their time with Rural Studio and the Moundville Archaeological Park Community Pavilion.

Bravo, teams! Thank you for honoring us with your abilities and grace!