designbuild

Taking a Slab at It: A Bathhouse Concrete Story!

Hello dearest reader and welcome back to the latest edition of the Rural Studio Bathhouse blog!

The past few months have been a very exciting and productive period for the Bathhouse. We are very happy to share what all we’ve been up to since we last spoke!

Students pose for picture on metal deck

At the time of our last update, we had just finished all the underground plumbing and preparing the CMU foundation walls for the floor structure.

We picked up on site where we left off by moving the structural beams into their places in the foundation walls and securing them in place!

View of students looking over metal deck from below
Greetings, Earthlings!

After cutting our metal decking to size, we were able to place the decking and began securing it to the CMU walls. Our good friend, Shane, helped us out by welding the decking down to the beams.

Once the deck was in place, it was time for Spring Break, but we did not take a break from the project. We had a very relaxing week in the woodshop building all the modular formwork for the slab!

Student screws pieces of wood together
Assembling base module supports

Once it was all built, we got busy on site installing the formwork. We started off with ledger boards on the CMU walls, then installed the base support modules and plywood base, and finally pulled strings to set the upright walls in place. We then braced these walls back to the base and added plywood to the inside face, completing the formwork.

image of completed formwork
Finished formwork

When the formwork was set, it provided a nice square base to measure all the penetrations in the slab from. We started off with the holes for the threaded rods.

Next, we marked out all the electrical and plumbing penetrations in the decking and cut them out.

While all of this was going on, we also began plumbing the whole Bathhouse and installing all the electrical conduit and boxes in the crawlspaces. While plumbing was occurring, rebar was being cut to size on the ground. We used bracing attached to the formwork walls to help support the PVC sleeves for the threaded rods and the plumbing and electrical stub outs.

After all the plumbing was completed and tested, we were able to begin putting the rebar reinforcement into place.

The team tied all the pieces together to form a large rebar mat for the slab. With the rebar in place, it was time to add in the last thing, metal mesh, which helps prevent cracking within the slab. The team finished this final step just in time to celebrate at Pig Roast!

We had a great time on Friday night of Pig Roast weekend listening to all the alumni lectures and really enjoyed getting to show off our project and the progress we have made to all our friends and families on Saturday. We finished the day off with an evening of festivities, great food, and wonderful live music.

The team speaking with former Rural Studio student
The bathhouse team meeting and looking at construction photos with original Supershed and Bathhouse team member, Jacqui Hart!

After a weekend of fun, it was quickly back to work for the bathhouse team! First thing Monday morning we got Concrete! An excellent team from JM concrete in nearby Uniontown made quick work of the pour and did a fantastic job with the finishing.

team posing with thumbs-up for concrete
Thumbs up for concrete!

We are so proud to have the heart of the project completed!

As she stands now

We are so happy to share the huge amount of progress being made! Next, we will be preparing to pour all the curbs under the timber walls and beginning the process of stacking the timber modules for the walls.

The team poses in front of project

Thanks so much for reading along and we hope to provide another exciting update very soon!

– Rural Studio Bathhouse Team

Carla, Ambar, Ashley, and Logan 

Get MEPped

Spring has sprung on the 18×18 House site! And with the grass, flowers, and leaves on the trees, new things are springing up inside the house too…

After installing their Pella windows at the start of this semester, the team kept moving with mechanical, electrical, and plumbing rough-ins, or MEP for short. That means pipes and wires!

First up were the drain, waste, and ventilation pipes. The PVC had to be cut and sections fitted together, leveled to slope downwards everywhere, and then taken apart to be glued BACK together. It took some trial and error, but Julie was on top of it.

After drain pipes were glued and checked for leaks, the team moved on to water supply lines. These had to be run to the outside of the house, where eventually the main line will be connected to the water meter.

Student with water line

Inside the house, flexible pipes snake through the walls to a few places. They eventually reach the locations of everything that will use water: the bathroom sink, toilet, shower, kitchen sink, washing laundry, outdoor hose, and refrigerator. Some of the spaces were tight, but once again, Julie saved the day.

Then we ALSO checked all of those pipes for leaks, but this time using air pressure.

Student reading air pressure

Meanwhile, we were also filling the walls with wires to run electricity throughout the house. Wires need to run to every single outlet, switch, and fixture, which can get complicated in a compact space like the 18×18 House.

But fear not! Meagan kept track of all the circuits, which all worked when tested! Phew.

And if that weren’t enough to keep everyone busy, the team has been finalizing some new flashing details for the exterior of the house. The 18×18 House will have about two-thirds of its cladding bumped out by a couple inches to add some dimension to the metal siding. Jake’s on that one!

Look at him. We’re all so proud.

Student with flashing mock-ups

And the FINAL thing the team has done to date… interior finishes! As the insulation and drywall stages approach, the “18s” are deciding on flooring, stair materials, railings, you name it.

The spring evenings in Hale County are setting the 18×18 House aglow every day. Keep an eye out for more changes as spring turns to summer, and as the team gets closer to the finish line!

Topped Out, Drying In

The second half of the fall semester has flown by for the 18×18 House team!

Jake, Julie, Meagan, and Naomi have been flying through framing. Watching the house take shape from the second-floor walls, the gables, and the stair has kept the entire process exciting.

To build the house, the team had to design a couple of special elements to help with construction. As they moved up through the floors, they had to build temporary wall and floor structures. These gave the team platforms to stand and work on, and also helped support the habitable attic before the roof was framed.

Of course, framing the roof meant lifting the ridge beam into place! Naturally, a celebration was in order for the topping-out of the 18×18 House. But no time to slow down! Now come the dormer walls and rafters. Building the dormer was icing on the cake, something the team has been excited (and nervous?) about for a long time. But with it built, the house finally looks like they imagined!

Next comes sheathing. The 18×18 House is well on its way to being dried in for the holidays. The team isn’t losing steam as the semester ends, and the new year will bring new milestones! Watch out for the next 18×18 blog to see where 2024 takes them!

It’s a Block Party at the Bathhouse!

Hello Dearest Reader,

Welcome back to the Rural Studio Bathhouse blog. We are so very sorry that we have not provided an update in a while, but we are excited to share the hard work and progress we’ve made recently!

The team poses on site
Jumping for joy because we are finally out of the ground!

When we spoke last, the bathhouse team had just finished with the footings for the outdoor shower. The plan was to continue with the construction of the outdoor shower as the mock-up, before starting work on the rest of the bathhouse.

However, the team, along with Rural Studio instructors, decided to move forward with the foundations for the rest of the building. This would allow the team to be completely out of the muddy ground before the rainiest parts of the winter. This would also allow the block mason to construct all the CMU block walls for the Bathhouse at the same time, which is a big deal!

Image of typical foundation wall detail
Typical Bathhouse Foundation to CMU wall to Slab Detail

So, after spending some time working through drawings and details for the foundations, we got to work. First, we set up batter boards and pulled strings to mark the foundations on the ground. Then, we bent and cut all the pieces of rebar needed for the footings and assembled the rebar cages outside of the trenches while we waited to dig.

Once we were good to go, our friend Tyler Hochstettler from C&T Excavating Inc. came out to Newbern and helped us dig the trenches for the rest of the Bathhouse.

Students pose on site
Thumbs up for Digging Day!

After the excavating was done, we moved the rebar cages into the trenches and poured our concrete footings!

In the middle of preparing drawings and working on site, we also made a mock-up of one of our showers to fully understand the scale of the space. With this mock-up, we used a rainfall shower head and tested heights of the shower head to understand what was comfortable. It also allowed us to see the areas where water would be splashing and landing in the shower. This helped us realize we needed to consider the wall-lining material for the shower, and we learned that the higher the shower head was, the higher the velocity and pressure of the water would be when it hit a person.

Finally, we are very excited to reveal that back on site, we have concrete blocks, as of this week! Our concrete block foundation walls for the whole Bathhouse were constructed by our friend from Newbern, James Harris, and his wonderful crew.

We worked with the crew to install vertical rebar for support as they built the walls. Currently, we are working to fill all the cells that have rebar in them with mortar. We are so excited to see the building finally coming to life and growing up right before our eyes.

Our goal is to finish all the block walls before we take a break from site for the holidays. Once we return in the new year, we will be hard at work preparing formwork and getting all the plumbing roughed-in in preparation for the pouring of our elevated concrete slab. We will also begin testing the stacking of our wood modules for our wall assemblies.

completed block walls
Completed CMU foundation walls
picture of block walls
The outdoor shower!

Thanks so much for reading and following along with the very exciting progress being made at the Bathhouse. We hope you all have a great holiday season, and we will be back with more updates after the new year!

– Rural Studio Bathhouse Team

Carla, Ambar, Ashley, and Logan 

2023 Pig Roast

Another two-dayer is in the books! We started Pig Roast weekend on Friday, April 28, in the Project Horseshoe Farm Courtyard in Greensboro, AL. We began with a scrumptious meal, a collaboration between Mo Kitchen of The Stable and Sarah Cole of Abadir’s. The Stable provided tasty wraps, and Abadir’s the viabrant and zingy salads and sweet desserts, including their famous sprintime coconut cake. Sorry, Mo, the wraps were outstanding, but the Sarah’s flowers and petals visually stole the show, especially on the chopped greens and chickpeas AND the strawberry cobbler with lavender biscuits!

Seven alumni PechaKucha-style lectures followed the meal. Our speakers, spanning 12 years at Rural Studio:
• Mary Melissa Taddeo, ’12, Auburn, AL
• Chris Currie, ’10, San Antonio, TX
• Jamie Sartory, ’10, San Antonio, TX
• Evan Forrest, ’09, Chicago, IL
• Rob White, ’04, Nashville, TN
• Patrick Nelson, ’03, Birmingham, AL
• RaSheda Workman, ’00, Tuscaloosa, AL

And then . . . great music by Louis V to dance by.

On Saturday morning at 8:30, we gathered at Morrisette House to set out on our journey behind a Ford pick-up truck regaled in American and Auburn flags. The tour of projects included five in progress and several research initiatives, with a break in the middle back at Morrisette for a delicious lunch prepared by Rural Studio’s own Catherine Tabb and Doris Ward. Attendees heard the latest updates on the Front Porch Initiative from the team—Rusty Smith, Mackenzie Stagg, Betsy Farrell Garcia, & Christian Ayala—and toured and caught up on progress on Rural Studio Farm with Eric Ball. Emily McGlohn gave a rousing presentation on the new Wastewater project in Newbern.

Below is the rest of the rundown:

Projects presentations and clients
• C.H.O.I.C.E. House. 5th-year team of AC Priest, Davis Benfer, Hailey Osborne, and Yi Xuan (Raymond) Teo. Client: Emefa Butler of C.H.O.I.C.E. (CHOOSING to HELP OTHERS In our COMMUNITY EXCEL)
• Patriece’s Home. 5th-year team of Adam Davis, Daniel Burton, Laurel Holloway, and Lauren Lovell. Client: Patriece Gooden
• Rural Studio Bathhouse. 5th-year team of Carla Slabber, Ambar Ashraf, Ashley Wilson, and Logan Lee. Client: Morrisette Campus.
• 18×18 House. 5th-year team of Naomi Tony-Alabi, Jake Buell, Meagan Mitchell, and Julie DiDeo. Client: Detyrick King
• Rosie’s Home. Spring 3rd-year team of Canon McConnell, Trenton Williams, Junting Song, Finn Downes, and Lucas Henderson. Client Rosie and Frankie

Presentations of classes’ semester-long work
• History and Watercolor Class by Dick Hudgens
• Woodshop Class by Steve Long

We arrived back to Morrisette House for dinner led by Newbern’s fire trucks and the roasted pig! This year’s dinner and graduation ceremony was moved from Bodark Amphitheater to Morrisette House due to impending thunderstorms. (Thanks to our team for swiftly switching venue locations on the fly!) Saturday evening featured Newbern Mercantile’s famous fried catfish and barbecued pork—it is Pig Roast, after all—and all the sides (of course!), with everyone kicking back to live tunes, first from the young performers of the Blues School Graduate Band and then the stylings of Debbie Bond Blues Band featuring Debbie Bond, “Radiator” Rick, Earl “Guitar Williams, Marcus “Jukeman” Lee, and Jonathan Schwartz.

The ceremony introductions began with Joe Lee Hamilton, Hale County Commissioner; Ben Farrow, Associate Dean of Academic Affairs and International Programs for Auburn University College of Architecture, Design and Construction; and Justin Miller, Head of Auburn University School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture.

It was our pleasure to honor special guests Melissa Foster Denney and Bobby Scott. We were delighted to have Frank Harmon from Frank Harmon Architects in Raleigh, NC, to give this year’s graduation speech. And it was with pride and sweet tears that we congratulated our graduating 5th-year students: Ambar Ashraf, Ashley Wilson, Carla Slabber, Jake Buell, Julie DiDeo, Logan Lee, Meagan Mitchell, Naomi Tony-Alabi. Huge congrats, folks: you poured your hearts into your work and earned those degrees!

As tradition requires, “Whiffle Dust” shot from the Spencer family’s cannon, and fireworks rose to their heights behind Morrisette House.

We couldn’t have Pig Roast without our outstanding local sponsors! We’d like to thank Alabama Power; BDA Farm; City Furniture; Greensboro Pie; Hale County Hospital; Harvest Select Catfish; NAPA Auto Parts; Parker Tire & Muffler; People’s Bank; Reynold’s Electric; Sweetbriar Tea & Coffee; Blue Shadows B&B; Dozier Hardware; Greensboro Depot; Holmstead Company; M&M Mustang; Newbern Mercantile; The Partridge Berry; Seale, Homes, Ryan, LLC; Stillwater Machine; the Smelley family; The Stable; Citizens Bank; Mosley Feed and Seed; Greensboro Nutrition; Superior Metal Works; Clary’s Country Market; Patrick Braxton; and Wood Fruitticher!

If you couldn’t get out here to Newbern this year, check out blog posts from each team here.

Thanks to everyone for your support! #WarEagle