This week, Steve taught us some tips and tricks on setting up batter boards. These batter boards will be used not only as a guide for excavating but also for setting the rebar reinforcement and pouring concrete. The strings that are pulled from stake to stake mark the edges of the footing and the middle string helps to delineate the center, where the screens will connect to the concrete. After the lines were taut and centered, the ground was spray-painted as a reference for digging, and the string was rolled back.
In a day the footing trenches were excavated! Most of it was dug with a mini excavator, but in areas where there were pipes, the digging was done by hand.
Considering the rain in the next couple of days, the team made a provisional cover with 2″x4″ and plywood that was sloped to let the rain shed off to the side. Then tarps were placed on top of the plywood so that the plywood didn’t get soaked.
Scraps from the walkway grate used as a clamping surface on top
In order to set the grates into the exact place they needed to be, the team used a series of spacers, clamps, and crowbars. 2″x6″X10′ were cut to 9’10” to function as spacers for the brackets so that while the grates were moved around, the brackets stayed parallel to each other. 2″ C clamps were used to attach the grates to the bracket until welded, and 1″ spacers were made out of the wood to wedge between the two rows of grate. This dimension was chosen so that when looking at the grate it reads the same as the space from bearing bar to bearing bar.
This week, Mr.Hamilton, the brick mason finished filling-in the beam that is above the alcove opening. He laid them in an orientation that matched bricks above the windows and relates to the Flemish bond pattern in other parts of the building.
For the 3rd-year students, each semester begins by getting familiar with the Rural Studio Wood Shop and all it has to offer. The shop is very basic in the tools that it’s equipped with. So, students have to be creative in how they use each tool.
To kick off the class, the first task is to make a wooden cutting board in the shop. Each student is given three small pieces of cherry and walnut wood. After that, the limits are endless. With only the constraints of what is available in the shop, the design is up to whatever anyone wants to try.
By allowing the class to begin at a small scale, the cutting board project provides the opportunity to use and get familiar with all of the tools in the shop before moving to a larger and more difficult scale: cabinetry scale. The assignment also begins to facilitate an understanding of what it’s like to work with wood, which also proves helpful when the students work on the framing for Ophelia’s Home. Because there’s so much possibility, it’s always exciting to see the end result for each cutting board!
The Horseshoe Farm fellows and Dr. Dorsey came out on Sunday and helped prime and scrape the remaining of the block walls. By the end of the day, most of the Beacon Alley wall was primed and a coat of fresh paint put on the other wall!
The team finished installing the new waterlines and aligning the shut-off valve boxes at the north end of the site, as well as adding a connection for a water hose during construction.
This week Luis also came down from Columbiana, Alabama, and volunteered his time with the team. Luis is a certified welder, and one of the people that taught the team how to weld at Jim Turnipseed’s shop. After the galvanization was ground off at the bottom of the bracket connection, Luis welded the plates to the tube in order to make a stiffer connection.
The end of the semester was a hustle and last hoorah for the fall semester 3rd-Year team. The students were sentimental (and maybe a little stressed) as they finished projects, and assignments and prepared to showcase their semester in one final review. And even though it felt like it was never going to happen, they got to start building a house!!
When it came time for the pour, excitement filled the air as the concrete truck back into Ophelia’s driveway. One full day of pushing and pulling and shoveling and smoothing with just about all the strength the students had to give. The 3rd-Years then drilled into the concrete footing to place and grout vertical rebar.
When the block layers came, everything went off without a hitch! The 3rd-Years got to watch the masters at work, and even help on occasion. Finally, the students then filled the allotted cells of the CMU wall with concrete and placed anchor bolts for next semester to bolt the sill on the foundation wall. And of course, cleaning up the site all along the way.
Oh, and the quilt, the magnificent quilt. The student’s final block iterations were sewn together, a quilt back was made with extra material from the naturally dyed fabric and a layer of cotton and polyester batting (yes kind of like insulation) was sandwiched between the sewn top and bottom.
The students then basted the sandwich (quick, temporary seams) and made a PVC Pipe frame to hold all the layers together while each student intricately “quilted” area of their own block together to make one cohesive blanket. A border was made and all 13 of the students sat around the Morrisette dining table to whip stitch the edges of the quilt closed, while watching The Grinch and drinking hot chocolate. :,)
The last class for the 3rd-Year’s History elective as a day long trip to Columbus, MS. The students ended like they began, seeing and sketching the southern vernacular with their wise captain, Dick Hudgens. They were then left to their own devises to finish their final watercolors, and they all, miraculously, finished! The pieces illustrated what the 3rd-years had learned about composition, color, fine water coloring techniques, and the influence of classical design on historic Montgomery homes. The works were displayed in the Morrissette House during the annual Soup Roast, as tradition holds.
Soup Roast bookended the fall semester 3rd-Years’ time at Rural Studio. They got to take one last tour around Hale County to see the amazing 5th-years, graduate students, and leftovers projects. Then, the finally of Soup Roast, the 3rd-Year’s presentation!
The students got feedback from their reviewers about their mechanical exhaust ventilation crawl space foundation (yup that’s a mouthful) and how they approached multiple residents moving into the product line homes. The 3rd-Years presented their ¼ bedroom or “nook” design in Joanne’s modified home through a built mock-up out of 2×6’s and pin up boards, so everyone could see and experience what the space will feel like.
Also, the final quilt was revealed! The students explained the premise of the class and had a conversation with the crowd about how this unconventional representation method expands our understanding of a project, the process of design, and cultivated empathy, in this case with Ophelia. The parade of students, architects, parents, teachers and friends then walked to the project site for Ophelia’s 20K too see the physical progress so far and meet Ophelia! The 13 3rd-Years returned to the site the next day to say goodbye and present her with the final quilt (she was surprised and very grateful).
The next day, the students packed up the pods, said goodbye to Chastity the mouse and Cupcake the possum, then drove/ flew across the globe to get home, but left with a lot of love in their hearts for Hale County and each other. The fall students felt the honor of borrowing Rural Studio and Newbern as their home for 3 ½ months. For that, they will be forever thankful. Now Ophelia’s 20K is handed over to the spring semester students!