April has arrived which means the heat is beginning to creep into sunny afternoons, pollen has layered every outdoor surface, and the Moundville Pavilion Team is making decisions. In recent weeks, we have met with visiting architects and lighting consultants and have begun to get into the nuts and bolts (literally and figuratively) of how to detail the elements of the pavilion
Open for Spring
After Executive Review, we started to find a middle ground between the form and function of the column design. We had Pete Landon and Cameron Acheson from Landon Bone Baker Architects out of Chicago, IL, out for a review of the team’s work.
They helped the team focus on the longevity of the roof surface; since the pavilion will reside in a heavily forested area, a durable surface is critical to withstand decomposing pine straw and potentially fallen branches.
Turning on the Lights
Since the pavilion is located in the campground and the space will likely be inhabited after dusk, the team has been researching lighting strategies in order to provide safety and usability at night.
In addition to modeling some hidden fixtures options, the team met with lighting designer, Thomas Paterson (Lux Populi in Mexico City, Mexico) who explained possible lighting methods that can relate to the concept. Most recently, we tested lighting schemes on-site.
After finalizing more details within the roof and ceiling structure, it was time to start working on a large-scale framing model. Next up, is the annual Pig Roast Celebration!
Spring has sprung, which means Spring Break is quickly approaching! But before we hang up our overalls for a much needed break, we’ll be cranking up production on the Moundville Pavilion project in preparation for the mid-March Executive Review.
A big part of our decision-making process has been based on the refinement of the project’s concept. We went back and looked over our initial reading and analysis of the site and the previous team’s design to better articulate why we were making our decisions.
Our concept starts with the desire to not be an object on the landscape, and instead be more a part of the landscape by taking cues from the surrounding forest and blending in. By doing so, we give reverence to the site and work to draw the eye away from the pavilion and instead focus it on the surroundings. The pavilion is also all about the gradient that is found in a forest of trees, going from a heavy, sturdy base, to a light canopy that reaches to the sky and lets light touch the ground below.
Reviewers, Mock-ups, Drawings, Oh My!
The design has been gradual and ever changing in conjunction with the last revolving door of reviewers we’ve hosted for the month. We had a short visit from Larry Scarpa, from Brooks + Scarpa based in Los Angeles, CA, who gave a lecture and questioned the team on how the project can be more cohesive from top to bottom. Mike Newman of SHED Studio and Katrina Van Valkenburg of the Corporation for Supportive Housing (CHS), both based in Chicago, IL, provided input on the column design dilemma and asked the team to build quick and easy mock-ups of all of our column ideas to better understand their implications.
Finally, we had Dan Wheeler from Wheeler Kearns Architects, based in Chicago, IL, come out and take a look at how the project’s details have been progressing. Dan encouraged the team with his knowledge of the various ways we can detail the pavilion and how to embody the points of our concept. Dan led a charrette asking the team to take a step back and draw the overall concept with relation to the park, while also zooming in to the various ways we can have the column details emphasize the heavy-to-light design.
The last couple of weeks have been busy for the Moundville Pavilion team, with the revolving door of visiting guest reviewers, a mock-up, and structural meetings.
With the arrival of our pool tarp material, it was time to utilize the partially built pavilion and to mock-up the ceiling form. With the help of our fellow 5th-year Hailey Osborne, we made quick work of the mock-up which ultimately provided some much-needed perspective on the experiential quality of the proposed form. Seeing the slightly dull material for the underside of the pavilion confirmed the team’s desire for a more reflective surface that will blend the pavilion in with the surrounding environment.
With the continuation of our meetings with Joe Farruggia, Rural Studio’s Engineering Consultant and Visiting Assistant Professor, the design began to evolve with the structural needs of the pavilion. Replacing the columns meant the opportunity to question the design of the columns, including their connection to the trusses as well as the ground. The first decision the team made was moving from a 3-ply system to a 5-ply system, causing the columns to widen and subsequently blend more with the surrounding tree trunks.
Secondly, the team decided it was important to make all of the columns vertical, contrasting with the previous design that incorporated angled bracing members. This vertical design provides a more porous plan from covered to uncovered areas and takes away the provisional nature of the diagonals. By taking out the original A and V column system, the necessary lateral stability was absorbed into the roof form, enlarged footings, and stiffer columns.
Over the previous weeks, Anne Marie Duvall Decker and Roy Decker (from Duvall Decker Architects in Jackson, MS), and Tod Williams and Billie Tsien (from Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects and Partners in New York City, NY) spent time discussing and providing constructive insight on the design. Duvall Decker helped the team think about the connection points of the columns and their constructability. This conversation led the team to develop a steel connection between each truss and column that allows for less risk of misalignment.
Tod Williams and Billie Tsien zoomed out from the details and urged the team to strengthen the conceptual ideas of the project. This clarified the goals for the design and propelled the team forward with confidence in the direction the design was headed. We left ourselves with one question: How can you be of the surrounding landscape, without being the surrounding landscape?
Patriece’s Home team was busy over their winter break continuing to work on their adaptable, two-story house intended for multi-generational residents. With some insightful feedback from Soup Roast, Rural Studio’s final fall review event, the design has been rigorously refined and tested over the past month to make the home more easily adaptable. The laundry room in the house now has two potential locations, so it is accessible whether the home is used as one unit or two. The team has also begun drawing the home’s interior elevations to evaluate how comfortable the rooms are to live in, to determine the exact best placement of windows, and discover opportunities for storage in underutilized spaces.
They have also gotten an early jump on engineering their attic trusses. The team’s design will use an existing bearing wall to decrease the lumber size of the trusses’ bottom chord.
Additionally, the team has begun drawing their construction documents and developing a slight roof overhang to protect the home’s windows from the wash of roof water.
Last week the group had a review with John Forney, an architect and friend of the Studio based out of Birmingham, AL, that allowed them to prove that their research is relevant by using “scenario buffering” to scheme all of the possible adaptations for this house.
In the next couple of weeks, the team will also make decisions on materials to begin drawings their details. They plan to meet with their client Patrice to learn how this home might actually be lived in and placed on the site. The team can’t wait!
Also, due to the upcoming weekly guest reviews, February will be full of old friends of the Studio as well as new faces! We’re excited to see everyone!
Reporting from Hale County, the Moundville Pavilion 5th-year student team members—tasked with designing and building a pavilion and surrounding landscape on a historic Native American settlement site—are back after a restful holiday season and are ready to roll. While we were away, the team met with Joe Farruggia, Rural Studio’s Engineering Consultant and Visiting Assistant Professor, via Zoom and assessed the integrity of the existing pavilion structure. Due to the structure being left alone for so long and not being a fully tied system, the current columns and steel plate connections need to be replaced with a more robust design. Joe shared his plan for replacing the columns and plates and led the team to start developing new dimensioned drawings to work from.
Zooming in, Zooming out
Once we all got back to Hale County, the team started digging deeper with a more zoomed-in approach to designing. This led to creating new detailed drawings, playing with furniture design, and rendering a 3D model to play with materials in a more accurate way. The detailed drawings include the edge condition and the exploration of an outdoor suspended ceiling plane that mitigates the current misalignment of the bottom ridge of the trusses. The ceiling material should be something that reflects the surrounding landscape while also helping to bounce light into the space underneath.
To kick off the Spring semester the Studio had its traditional “Neckdown” Week, in which students, staff, and faculty worked together in an intensive volunteer week, tackling small projects across the county. The team had a group of helpers out on site moving plywood off of the scaffolding to prepare for upcoming mock-ups and construction. Some pieces were no longer usable due to water damage, but we managed to save 63 pieces for future use. A huge shout out to the 3rd-years and our fellow 5th-year Daniel Burton for helping us!
Next up (literally): A ceiling mock-up on site to test out the proposed ceiling material.