designbuild

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

We’re Still Here!

Hello! We, the 3rd-year students, are back (again). We have returned from spring break well rested, newly tan, and ready to work! Since our last blog, we’ve been very busy working on site and in our other classes and are excited to share more about our time here at Rural Studio. 

Now you know what we look like!

Live From Site

Since our last update, we have made steady and significant progress on the construction of Rosie’s Home. We finally finished the rafters and tied down and bracketed everything that we could. Trust me, we checked. Before we left for break we were able to put up the first set of roof sheathing, which was exciting as it was our first major visual change to the home. Soon we will be working on the gable ends and how we can work more natural lighting into the project. 

Some days Rosie’s cats will come hangout on our wood piles and some days we wish we could take a nap just like them.

Shh! she’s sleeping

Studio Happenings

In the Studio, we are continuing our research and exploration of the front porch design. We took our early work and developed a series of mock-ups for a “long-term” hand rendering drawing of our selected porch. These types of drawings have historically been done in past studios and we are very excited to contribute to that “legacy.” Recently, we had a charrette outside of Red Barn to start early designs of Rosie’s porch and the surround area. This was new for some of us and was high productive but also a fun experience.

We also spent some time building our own drafting boards, since we don’t have our own, I know I know the new wave is so lame.

I wonder what this ancient technology was used for…

Wood Shop Could Shop Wood 

Continuing from where we left off, we have made significant strides in the design and construction of Rosie’s cabinet system. We have been working to create a more “complete” set of drawings so that we can construct a mock-up cabinet for review as well as eventually build the finished system for installation. Through reviews and research, we were able to learn about last semester’s cabinets and combine them with our own ideas to reach a compromised design.

Decisions Decisions

History In The Making 

Since we last spoke, we have visited five houses and produced four water colors, using our custom dyes, for our history class. These field trips included visits to Magnolia Grove in Greensboro, Jemison Mansion in Tuscaloosa, and The Gaineswood Mansion in Demopolis. The last of which was where we encountered a scary doll. Spooky. At each home we were tasked with two sketches, utilizing the magic proportions trick, brought to you by Dick Hudgens, and line weighting to try and get as close as possible to a realistic but quick drawing of the building.

On The Outside

Outside of our busy days working and building and just being fun and interesting people, we like to spend our time playing pickleball with the 5th-year students, who we always beat, and visiting the Wayside Bakery to get a nice snack.

Getting a quick W, what can I say

Until Next Time 

We have had a blast here in Newbern so far and can’t wait to see what we’ll get up to next, hopefully all good things. The flowers are blooming and the sun is out so we have high hopes for the rest of the semester!

Until then, the 3rd-year students  

We come in peace!

In the Walls & On the Roof!

A perspective view of the back of the house shows a row of scaffolding at the base of the roof and rectangles of insulation stacked halfway up the roof deck.

A new year and a reinvigorated energy for the Patriece’s Home team! In 2023, the home will all come together! The team was so eager to get back to work, they settled back into Hale County weeks before the semester started.

Plus, their insulation arrived. Thanks to a generous donation from Rockwool, Patriece’s Home, Rosie’s Home, and the C.H.O.I.C.E House will be filled with Rockwool fire and sound-proof insulation. These products are made from basalt rocks that have been melted down and whipped like cotton candy, and provide a more healthful insulation alternative. 

Because the trusses on Patreice’s Home are designed for 5 1/2” of spray foam insulation, the team developed a strategy to use 4 inches of Rockwool Comfortboard 110 on the exterior of the roof deck and Comfortbatt on the interior of the roof deck to achieve the necessary insulation R value. They also drilled holes in the roof purlins of the six-foot gap between the trusses so that vapor can diffuse across the underside of the roof deck through the port in the ridge. Thank you, Rural Studio 5th-,years for helping install interior insulation! The team edited the eave and rake details for this change and once the comfort board was stacked on the roof, they covered it in a waterproof plastic, purlins to screw the roof metal into and sandwiched all the layers together with 7” screw into the attic trusses! 

After the insulation was secure, the team finished placing the corrugated ash grey roof metal on the house in one afternoon! The first finish layer of the home is complete! 

Before they finish the other side of the roof, the team is going to duct three rooms upstairs to whirly bird vents on the roof to help ventilate the home in the hot Alabama summers. The students will have to drill though all layers of the roof sandwich and built hatches to the ducts, which can be closed in the winter and opened when it heats up. Team member Daniel built a mockup of the hatches and the team had another detail design meeting with their consultant Dan Wheeler!

Adam and Laurel also ran around the house installing an exterior hose bib, the hot water heater, and the shower controls to finally finish the plumbing. They installed two ERVs—one for each unit in the dividable home—to circulate fresh air and installed ducts the bathroom fans and kitchen range hood They cut the ZIP below the tall windows to secure the home’s through-wall unit sleeves.

Meanwhile, Lauren and Daniel have been tangled in the wires! Boxes were placed, holes drilled, and wire pulled to electrify the whole home. The electrical system is designed on two breaker boxes; when the home is devised into two units, the second unit can be hooked up to a second preinstalled meter box. These little details are part of the team’s adaptable design to allow the home to flex with as little effort as possible. Rural Studio’s own Mason Hinton helped them design and test the circuits and hook them up to the breakers and meter box outside. The team is also installing conduit to a low voltage box inside, so if the homeowner decides to change their internet or cable television service provider, the new cables can easily be routed into the home. 

With the last of the roof metal coming soon and final checks on the guts of house’s walls being done, we’re all ready to see this space filled with insulation and transformed by drywall! Read Patriece’s Home’s blog next time to see their spring progress in Greensboro!