historyclass

That’s a Wrap

Our spring 2021 3rd-year students finished off their time at Rural Studio with a bang! The last couple of months in Hale flew on by, taking nine students away with them.

History Class

As the semester wrapped up, so did the seminar with their professor, Dick Hudgens. Students toured a few more pre-civil-war homes and Dick held final reviews for the students’ work. Out on the Spencer House front porch, each member of the class presented three months’ worth of sketches from house tours, watercolor work, and historic housing “Design Problems.” Thanks to Ian Crawford for attending the review and providing his wise-as-ever advice and expertise!

Shop Class

Students worked diligently until the very last hour, oiling and installing cabinets. Plywood cabinets finished with tung oil and paste wax were designed and built this semester for the following spaces in Ophelia’s new home: the kitchen, nook, utility room, bathroom, and bedroom. That’s a lot of cabinets! Nineteen, to be exact.

Cabinets are nearly ready for use!

Yes, they also built a house!

During the past few months, a lot happened at Ophelia’s Home. The remaining pieces of ZIP System sheathing were nailed into place by the Enclosures Team; Ashley, Juyeon, and Logan. Then windows, doors, and joints were meticulously taped.

After Ophelia chose a siding color—burgundy—the team got to work installing the corrugated metal cladding. By the end of the semester, these three students of the Enclosures Team were mastered cutting and installing metal panels.

a group of people gather to watch a woman present some color options
Pick a color, any color.

Remember those funky exterior design charrettes? The ones considering tricks-of-the-eye and optical illusions? Well, those design discussions came to fruition during siding installation. The metal corrugation runs in two directions, which helps enhance a new proportion on the front faces while disrupting the front corner of the house.

a view of a burgundy house in a big yard with a green-colored house in the background
Where does the porch wall terminate? You may never know.

The MEP (Mechanical, Electrical, and Plumbing) Team—James, Kirby, and Wendy—spent their days putting together the many parts and pieces that give a house running water and power. These three students installed the entire MEP system for Ophelia’s Home from scratch! Because there’s so much that goes into these systems, they spent a whole lot of time driving to Lowe’s and back… and to Lowe’s and back again.

two students load a cart with pvc pipe in a hardware store
Gotta have plenty of pipe

While MEP and Enclosures Teams were working away, the Interiors/Rough Framing Team–Austin, Drew Haley, and Sadie–was steadily constructing the back stoop and front entrance to the house. They also put the finishing touches on the inside of the house. First, they tackled the back stoop: digging holes for three posts, constructing a platform, decking the platform, and building the stairs.

a set of wooden stairs lead to the door of a partially-clad house
Dang, that’s a nice lookin’ stoop.

The team then moved inside and recruited help from members of the MEP Team to paint the walls and ceiling and install laminate flooring.

a woman kneels over flooring boards while she hammers the pieces together
Tap, tap, tap

For Ophelia’s front entrance, this team built the formwork for and poured the concrete ramp! Many thanks are due to Andrew and Steve for helping with the ramp’s design and construction.

Ophelia’s Home: All Ramped Up

Pig Roast

The semester concluded with an “in-house” celebration of the Studio and the incredible body of work accomplished this year. We’ll miss these students dearly, and hope they return to Hale again soon (5th-year, perhaps?). Once a part of Rural Studio, always a part of Rural Studio.

Bye for now!

Week 2: Hit the Ground Runnin’

This week, the 3rd-years arrived on site, ready to work! They are excited to continue construction on Ophelia’s Home. They have also been introduced to their elective Woodworking and Historical Design Electives. Let’s check in to see how it’s all starting off.

Students meeting with professor and looking at drawings
Morning talks with Professor Emily McGlohn before site work starts

Wood Shop Class

This semester, the 3rd-Year students will continue the cabinetry class with Steve Long. This week, Steve taught the students how to use the tools safely. They also received an assignment to create a cutting board, so keep an eye out for the finished products! This assignment introduces students to the tools in the wood shop before they begin cabinetry.

Next, the students will be researching, designing, and handcrafting cabinetry for Ophelia’s Home. The 2020 Spring semester 3rd-Years laid a great foundation by designing and planning CNC routed millwork for the home. Past projects such as the Fausndale Community Center have used CNC routing for their millwork. CNC routing is a computer-based cutting machine available on Auburn University’s Main Campus, but not at Rural Studio. Therefore, the new group decided to handcraft the cabinets using the tools available on the Rural Studio campus here in Newbern. Throughout the semester, professionals will come and teach the students the basics of millwork so they can hit the ground running.

History Class

Professor Dick Hudgens teaches historic, regional design elective, referred to as “History Class”, here at Rural Studio. The 3rd-Year students take field trips to amazing buildings in the area, which Dick has great knowledge and experience with. Along with learning the history of the buildings through tours, the students sketch the buildings in order to understand them to a greater degree.

front elevation of Magnolia Grove
Magnolia Grove Main House

For their first class, the 3rd-Years travelled to Magnolia Grove in Greensboro. After touring the site, They sketched the main house and kitchen.

On Site

Everyone was excited to begin work on site.

The interior team spent the week counting inventory and beginning the framework. After a lot of headaches, math, and some rocks in the studs, they built and raised three interior walls!

The enclosures team completed sheathing, which is a flat layer of fiber board used to help strengthen the structure of a building and serve as an extra weatherproofing layer. Ophelia’s Home uses ZIP sheathing which also requires the joints to be sealed with ZIP tape.

The MEP team installed blocking in the rafters to seal ventilation from the attic space. This meant applying 2 “x 4” lumber in between the studs and vertical batons to cover any gaps caused by the exterior sheathing when the two elements meet.

Divide and Conquer

Woodshop Class

This week in woodshop class, the 3rd-years were able to finish their first project; Cutting Boards! Even with a less than normal Rural STudio experience, the students utilized this project as an introduction to woodworking. They gained confidence in using woodworking tools. The next two projects will be at an accelerated pace, but now the 3rd-years now have the skills to woodwork with more independence. Here is a look at each 3rd-year’s individual cutting board!

Matt Repsher
Ethan Mejia
DeLiang Chen
Ben Willcockson
Christina Devries
Ann Sheldon
Carla Slabber

History Class

In history, students were able to visit Thornhill, a 19th century home atop a hill with a spectacular view. What makes Thornhill unique from previous tours is the people that inhabit it. The older architectural styles of the house have been maintained by its owners while new additions have been made to complement the existing structures. All of the modern spaces are designed to respect the older ones. It was very interesting for the students to see a successful and modern addition to an older home.

Ophelia’s Home

As the semester continues, 3rd-years have split into three different groups: Framing, Enclosures, and Roof. The Framing team is constructing the final wall for the home and planning Ophelia’s porch construction. The Roof team is planning the truss installation process, the purchasing of materials, and what additional construction drawings are needed. The Enclosures team finished cutting and installing the sheathing on the walls and aided the Framing Team in the installation of the final wall. 

You’ve Gotta Raise the Walls Before You Can Raise the Roof

Field trip with Dr. Dick Hudgens

History, Shop, and Horseshoe Courtyard

Third years continued to work diligently in the shop this week as different cutting boards slowly started to come together. They were also able to visit a mid-1800’s house in Demopolis with Dr. Hudgens. At Horseshoe farms this week, 3rd-years were able to put up the frames for the other half of the courtyard after the 5th-years worked to install the footings.

Working in the Rural Studio Wood Shop on cutting boards

Ophelia’s Home

This week students worked to put the existing walls up at Ophelia’s Home. Rural Studio also had six helical anchors installed to further stabilize the foundation and 3rd-years were able to witness the process. While wall installation went slowly in order to assure everything remained plumb, students and Mrs. Ophelia were excited to see the home return prior condition. Everyone is looking forward to further progress on the home in the weeks to come!

3rd-Year’s Final Watercolors

Check out 3rd-year history class’s beautiful elevations and details of Gaineswood in Demopolis, Alabama, the Pollen Mansion in Montgomery, Alabama, and the Perry County Court House in Marion, Alabama. These buildings were meticulously hand-drafted and water-colored all semester long.