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Recently At Rural

Dried In At Last!

Welcome back! Rosie’s Home is on to its punchlist, and the students are working diligently as the 30th Pig Roast inches ever closer!

Right before spring break, 3rd-year students enjoyed a barbeque afternoon on site with their clients and had the honor of trying Frankie’s delicious fried catfish and “which-a-way” burgers. There was plenty of dancing, especially line-dancing like “Cotton-Eyed Joe” and Frankie’s favorite, the Electric Slide, as the students showed new moves to Rosie, Frankie, and teachers Emily McGlohn and Judith Seaman.

After spring break, 3rd-year students took off running on Rosie’s Home. Yesenia, Denae, Julia, and Brysen finished installing the floor and trim, while Mac and Sarah worked with Judith on custom-building and installing the final, and largest, window.

With all of these details out of the way, their instructor, Steve Long, is helping install cabinets in the kitchen; Yesenia, Denae, Sarah, and Emily are putting up the door; and Julia, Brysen, and Mac are applying final touches to the attic space. The team is pushing to finish interiors so they can make the final designs for the landscape and porch as the team enters its last month in Hale!

One Step Closer to Taking a Seat

Woodshop class with Steve has been very productive as students are finishing details on their cutting boards and continuing to work on their chairs. Yesenia and Sarah have been having many “bending parties” where the entire class participates in helping bend and clamp a steamed wood leg for Alvar Aalto’s Stool 60. This process is meticulous and time-sensitive, but so far, has been a win! Denae and Julia successfully steam-bent their first piece of wood for the seat of Jean Prouvé’s Standard Chair; they are continuing the process and mark their angles on hardwood for legs. Mac and Brysen are working hard at perfecting the mechanics involved with the Lina Bo Bardi folding chair on the drill press and jigs. Each seat brings its challenges, but the students are taking plenty of time to construct the chairs as best as they can.

In what felt like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, the class was able to spend a full 8 hours in woodshop on a recent Friday, and they took full advantage! They also have had the fabulous opportunity to spend more time in woodshop on typical site days to fabricate elements of the house such as window trim and cabinet base trim.

Trips with Dick

History trips with instructor Richard Hudgens are always a high for the 3rd-years every Monday, and these last three houses certainly did not disappoint. The students came to a collective agreement that Thornhill Mansion in Forkland, Alabama, was their favorite trip to date by far. Yes, the house was beautiful, but the view from the home’s hilltop perch over the Black Belt prairie was especially breathtaking.

In addition, though Professor Hudgens has visited this location numerous times, he had never climbed the 100-foot fire tower this house hid until now. Students and Hudgens took on the hair-raising, exhausting, but 100% worth it experience of climbing this tower with the owner, Mr. Jones, for a view that stunned from the top. The weeks that followed took the class to old favorite, Folsom Farm in Marion, with its famous seed house and general store, as well as the stately Gaineswood Mansion, with a section like no other!

The students were also given their final watercolor assignments, extra-special this year for the 30th Anniversary of Rural Studio. They will be on display at Pig Roast — so come on out to Hale and see their hard work!

1st-Years in the House

In March, Rural Studio holds its annual 1st-Year Workshop, where freshman architecture students are commissioned to design a model stand responding to studio models they previously presented. With themes such as “nest,” “slide,” and “rotate,” these model stands came to life with the help of 3rd-year, 5th-year, and “leftover” students. The visiting class received tool training from Steve Long the first afternoon, followed by dinner and a show (spaghetti and a lecture from Andrew Freear). It’s safe to say the younger students had an up-close view of what daily life will be like at Rural Studio should they choose to apply!

The second day, students were divided so each group had one 3rd-year advising them. And what would a Rural Studio visit be without catfish!? Students enjoyed a wonderful catfish lunch provided by Chef Ann before getting back to work on their model stands. The day concluded with a review of each stand with Andrew Freear, John Marusich, Emily McGlohn, Judith Seaman, and special guest Katherine Hogan of Katherine Hogan Architects in Raleigh, NC. Hope to see them here again in two years!

So Much Fun, So Little Time

Spring has sprung, and this means the Farm is always busy. Students are assigned farm duty, which recently has involved planting peppers, tomatoes, and cucumbers, harvesting greens, and protecting plants from freezing overnight. This Alabama weather can be so unpredictable! Each week, guests from across the county visit Newbern to conduct workshops with 5th-years and give a lecture to all students and faculty during lunch. Recently, visitors have included: Katherine Hogan from Raleigh, NC, Pete Landon of Landon Bone Baker in Chicago, Amanda Loper and Cameron Acheson from David Baker Architects in Birmingham, and Rick Joy from Rick Joy Architects in Tucson.

Hammocking has been a recent obsession for the 3rd-Years. In Greensboro, pickleball isn’t for the weak! The students find themselves playing with Fellows from Project Horseshoe Farms many times during the week, when they aren’t absolutely demolishing competition at trivia in Greensboro that is (they never win). Weather is warming up which means more outside activities, keep an eye out, their soccer skills are defrosting as we speak!

And They’re Off!

Newbies in Newbern

The Spring 2024 3rd-year students found their way to Newbern, and for Rural Studio’s own 30th Anniversary year! These past few weeks have been filled with many firsts for this group. They learned quite a lot already about putting things together and have been thrown into Rural Studio history with the traditional first-week Project Tour!

During their first week in Hale County, the newbies discovered trivia at The Stable and weren’t doing too well, stuck in last place throughout the whole night with 53 points. Then came the final round, which was the special twist: answer the question right and you gain the points that your team wagered, but if you get it wrong you must subtract the points wagered. The group of five decided to wager it all to give themselves a fighting chance at surpassing the first-place holder who had 98 points—and it worked! The group won with 105 points! Unfortunately, the following trivia nights sadly do not share the same happy ending.

Winner, winner, pizza dinner!

Notorious Neckdown

During their second week in Hale County, the 3rd-year students had some good old-fashioned bonding time with the 5th-year students and faculty during “Neckdown” Week! Each day, the students battled the crazy weather and were split into groups to help out around Hale County.

The first group visited Perry Lakes Park with Emily McGlohn and Judith Seaman. They swept the walkways and replaced rotting boards on the boardwalk to the Birding Tower, Bathrooms, and Pavilion.

The second group was the Fabrication Pavilion with Andrew Freear, John Marusich, and Steve Long. The students helped take apart and assemble scaffolding that was then used to replace parts of the columns.

The third group had their first days on the farm, helping Eric Ball plant seeds, harvest carrots, and prepare microgreens to grow in the greenhouse. Group four was busy over at the Model Homes sprucing up for a Spring roster of exciting visitors. Students cleaned the homes, painted walls, and helped Mason Hinton and John Allen with general maintenance. Last but not least was the mobile task force later in the week with Emily and Judith. With a rotating team, they cleaned the Thesis Barn, Newbern Town Hall, and Brick Barn. They also scrubbed the fence to a shine along Highway 61 at Morrisette Campus.

“Neckdown” Week wasn’t for the weak, with such wacky weather almost every single day. From freezing weather to lots of rain, the new 3rd-year students got an unusual Neckdown forecast. At the end of the day, they had a great time getting accustomed to the new lifestyle in Newbern.

Rookies at Rosie’s

Working on Rosie’s home had been one of the most anticipated tasks for the 3rd-year students. With help from a few of last semester’s students, they quickly picked up where the Fall 2023 team left. Kati taught Julia how to trim the windows; Tanner, Sarah, Brysen, and Mac all worked on continuing the cypress wood paneling; Caitlin and Deane built louvers for the attic vents; and finally, Yesenia and Jack continued the electrical work. One big hit from the first week on Rosie’s site was the cats! The most famous is Crunch, who is extremely loving.

Over the next few weeks, the 3rd-year students all teamed together to finish putting up the cypress wood paneling that wraps the ceiling. This was a big step in the right direction when it came to finishing Rosie’s Home. The cypress wood ceiling perfectly reflects lighting down into the room creating a beautiful effect.

Once the ceiling was completed, it was time to trim and caulk the windows and louvers throughout the house. This step only took a few days, and soon after, the scaffolding was able to come out and the flooring began! The scaffolds leaving the house and completing flooring in the living and kitchen areas were such big accomplishments, we deserved a good rest on the floor. The flooring is called Marmoleum, a variety of linoleum which is manufactured with linseed oil that uses a click-lock backing system and is part of 3rd-year students’ ongoing study in healthier material alternatives. Along with its health advantages over vinyl, the whole class is loving how easy Marmoleum has been to install.

The class is super excited to keep checking tasks off of the list and pushing towards the finish line of Rosie’s Home.

Head-Turning History

Dick Hudgens is the professor for the history seminar here at Rural Studio. However, his classes are not like any regular history classes these students have had before. Hudgens takes the students on trips to visit historic homes around the Black Belt region and includes the use of natural watercolors in his sketching assignments. At the beginning of the semester, a watercolor-making class is held led by local textile and dye artist Aaron Sanders Head. During this class, the students are shown a few ways that watercolor pigments can be made using natural resources like local plant matter, kitchen scraps, and leftover building materials.

So far, we have visited four homes: Glencairn, Magnolia Grove, Bluff Hall, and Lyons Hall. We learned a lot from these four homes and are excited for the other trips as the semester progresses. If you’d like to see everyone’s work, all sketches and watercolors done throughout the semester can be found at Pig Roast coming up at the end of next month!

Locations of the homes visited so far:

1.          Glencairn, Greensboro, AL

2.          Magnolia Grove, Tuscaloosa, AL

3.          Bluff Hall, Demopolis, AL

4.          Lyons Hall, Demopolis, AL

Working Hard in Woodshop

The 3rd-year students have been spending a lot of time in the woodshop these past couple of weeks and have been keeping the woodshop instructor, Steve Long, on his toes. Each semester students are given two projects to work on within the shop. The first is a cutting board, which allows them to get familiar with the equipment in the shop. The second, and most important, project is to recreate an architect’s famous chair design from found documents. Most of these chairs are manufactured on a machine scale, so the project requires students to design the processes to build these seats by hand using the resources of the Newbern shop! Both finished products will be on display at Pig Roast, so be sure to come by at the end of the semester.

So far, we have made the cutting boards, performed research for our chosen chairs, and created storyboards for them. Most recently, we have started making mock-ups to prepare for the final chair build. We are excited to see how the chairs will turn out!

Here’s each group and their chosen chair!

Denae and Julia: Standard Chair No. 4 by Jean Prouve

Sarah and Yesenia: Stool No. 60 by Alvar Aalto

Brysen and Mac: Frei Edigio (Folding Chair) by Lina Bo Bardi

To end on a good note, get to know the new group! Here are some of their fun little theories…

What’s your fun little theory?

Denae Inniss is from the Bahamas. Theory: Animals that run out in front of your car are controlled by insurance companies.

Julia Van Pelt is from Columbus, Georgia. Theory: Farmersonly.com puts farms out of business.

Sarah May is from Huntsville, Alabama. Theory: Dogs have names for humans.

Yesenia Serrano is from Collinsville, Alabama. Theory: Whales have contact with life in the deep sea and life in space.

Brysen Calvin is from Chicago, Illinois. Theory: There is one cow on the moon; it never jumped.

Mac Harlow is from Atlanta, Georgia. Theory: The Denver airport.

Thanks for checking in, look out for big strides out at Rosie’s Home as we celebrate the home stretch of this 3rd-year project! See you soon.

A Neckdown to Rain-member

Student mixing soil

It’s that time of year again…time for Spring “Neckdown” Week! It was a damp week all around Newbern, but the weather didn’t slow us down. All of the students and faculty got their hands dirty helping out.

Around Morrisette House, the Farm got plenty of attention and preparation for the coming growing season. We pulled out cover crops, tarped beds in the field, and started seeds in the greenhouse when the rain caught up to us. The front fence even got a facelift!

Work on the Fabrication Pavilion was one of the biggest Neckdown tasks this semester. A rotating crew of students spent time reinforcing each column to get ready for the pavilion’s second phase. There was almost as much scaffolding as people on site…

Other spots around town got some love too! The model homes and Newbern Town Hall both had facelifts, with lots of cleaning and repainting all around.

Another one of the main (and muddy!) projects for the week happened at Perry Lakes Park. The park boardwalk now has brand-new boards in place, ready for anyone who wants to come visit.

Now that Neckdown is behind us for the semester, it’s time to really dive into the projects. Keep up with each team’s blog posts to see where this spring takes us!

People carrying lumber through woods

A Big Toast for Soup Roast

The end of the fall semester can only mean one thing in Newbern… Soup Roast!

The 2023 edition included plenty of showing and telling, from 3rd-years, 5th-years, and leftovers alike! The first day of Soup Roast included visits to the two current leftover project sites, the 18×18 House and the Rural Studio Bathhouse. Both teams got the chance to show visitors what they’ve been up to since they began construction.

The 3rd-year class has been busy this semester, and they were able to show off all of their hard work! At Rosie’s Home, they’ve completed exterior finishes, mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems, and are well under way with interior finishes.

students with clients

In the Woodshop and History classes, students made cutting boards, large-format watercolor drawings, and replicas of famous chair designs. All of these were on display for visitors and friends to see!

The 5th-year students stayed hard at work during Soup Roast. Both the CLT Core House and the Fabrication Pavilion teams presented their current work to visiting reviewers. Kim Clements and Joe Schneider from JAS Design Build, Jake LaBarre from Miller Hull Partnership, Jim Adamson from design-build firm Jersey Devil, artist and architect David Lipe, artist Victoria Haven, and architects Isabelle and Nick Robertson were all in Newbern to help keep the projects moving forward. The second day of Soup Roast celebrations brought workshops and more discussion about the 5th-year projects.

The semester came to a festive end, with a celebratory dinner, six PechaKucha-style lectures by our visitors, and a bonfire. Huge thanks to Kim Clements for making this fantastic meal for us! Check back in after the holidays to see what’s next for the current projects!

The Home Stretch

Nearing the Finish Line

Well, hello again! The 3rd-year class is back again for your entertainment. It has finally cooled down here in Hale County: the fans have been stored away for the semester and winter jackets and heated blankets made their debut. Since our last blog, we have been so busy and are excited to tell you all about it!

Mechanical, Electrical, and Plumbing

When we last checked in with the MEP Boys, the plumbing team, Luke and Cayden, were finishing up the dryer vent installation and just starting on water supply lines; while the electrical team, Jack and Casey, were finishing up wiring throughout the house! After a few days of dry-fitting both wiring and plumbing parts, the MEP teams were able to begin setting everything in final positions. Following supply line fitting, the plumbing team began running pressure tests to ensure no leaks in the hot and cold water lines. As the electrical team finished up on wiring, they duly began testing each of their 22 circuits.

After successful tests, the plumbing team moved on to attaching the main water line to the house and placing and leveling the shower floor with mortar. After a day of mixing and spreading mortar, the plumbing team came back to a perfectly level and functional shower pan.

The electrical team successfully tested each interior circuit and moved onto the exterior wiring and placing of conduit on the porch with the help of Mason. After finalizing the interior plumbing and electrical, the MEP team cleaned up their typical mess of wires and nuts so the drywall team could get to work over the Thanksgiving Break!

Cabinets and Carpentry

As the Interiors team awaited the arrival of their tongue-and-groove cypress cladding, our sweet friend from that team, Kylie Kendall joined the ranks of the Millwork team for extra help in the woodshop. While Caitlin and Shannon worked hard on figuring out the composition of the lower cabinet drawers, Biz and Kylie, with aid of instructor Steve Long, used maple hardwood to construct face frames for the upper cabinets. After finishing sanding for all the cabinets, Caitlin and Shannon moved to priming while Biz and Kylie built the plywood bases for them sit on upon install.

Through meeting with our clients Rosie and Frankie, it came to our attention that we needed change in the plans. The cabinets previously formed an L-shaped kitchen that ended in a tall pantry storage unit. However, Rosie is accustomed to a U-shaped kitchen. The team met with Rosie to form a plan for the new kitchen shape and pivoted work to building a small peninsula cabinet instead, what we’re calling “Florida”. So, we headed back to the Studio to start brainstorming “Florida” into reality. Our interpretation was a peninsula added onto the end of the lower cabinets to cap them. This peninsula will add adjustable storage to both the kitchen and living room sides.

We were also tasked with the job of designing and building a closet for the bedroom that responded to the ceiling vaulted and exposed tension members. After many ideas, we landed on the final design and headed to site for a major blocking job for all of the millwork to be installed later.

Interiors

Tanner, Kylie, Emma A., and Emma J. have started cranking out the interior cladding in Rosie’s Home. To prepare for the drywall installation, different and healthier alternative insulations are being applied to the house’s walls and roof. On the east wall, Hempitecture Hempwool is being firmly fitted in the wall, we love the ease of installation on this one! Up above, ROCKWOOL is being hung on the ceiling. The west wall will be all Havelock sheep’s wool batts. On the north and south wall, a mixture of Hempwool, ROCKWOOL, and sheep wool are used for testing the effectiveness of the different insulations. As Kylie was stolen away from the team, the remaining members worked on finalizing the interior finish options and presented the cool, neutral, and warm options. They put together beautiful mood boards that represented the interior cladding, flooring, and cabinet colors and presented to Rosie and family. After that, Tanner and Emma J. along with Mason ventured to Cleveland, Georgia, to pick up the wood cladding and trim needed to finish the interior.

Enclosures

Bailey, Hannah, Kati, and McAllister have been working hard to continue wrapping up the exterior cladding. After finishing the vertical and horizontal battens on the front wall and roof, one of the picture windows arrived and was able to be installed on the north facade.

While Kati and Bailey completed the metal cladding on the north side, Hannah and McAllister stained and installed the wood cladding on the front. Once the whole team started working on the front, the wood cladding went up with ease, and before they knew it the wall was done. After some brainstorming on how the edge of the roof and wall would meet, the team settled on a slight roof overhang and then got to work on the application.

Halloween Review

It was time for the annual Rural Studio Halloween review and the 3rd-years dressed up as whimsical characters from the Dr. Seuss books. Starring in the 2023 Halloween review was…

Biz Helms as Horton the Elephant 

Bailey Kennedy as The Fish

Caitlin Ranheim as Thing 1

Casey Dillard as Mr. Brown

Cayden Davis as Sneetch 

Emma Avery as The Lorax

Emma Johnson as Thing 2

Hannah Weiland as The Fox in Socks

Jack Felder as The Grinch

Kati Warner as The Cat in the Hat

Kylie Kendall as The Once-ler

Luke Bradberry as JoJo 

McAllister Tucker as Cindy Lou Who

Shannon Brennan as Sam-I-Am

Tanner Wallace as Max the Dog 

On site, McAllister, Emma A., Caitlin, and Luke presented Rosie’s Home to visiting architects and got critiques on the progress already made to the house. To end the day, the 3rd-years competed in a costume competition with the rest of Rural Studio and to their dismay, did not win. Congratulations the the 5th-year CLT Core House team for their victory!

Chop, Drop, and Roll

Continuing on our journey into the woodworking world, all five groups have begun our final chairs! After working out any issues that were brought to light by the completion of our mock-ups, we have now refined our techniques and are working hard to finish each chair by Soup Roast.

Steve has continued to help us through all of the challenges we’ve faced, even if that means meeting in the early mornings with us. Regardless of the bumps in the road, we are all ecstatic to show you how much we’ve learned this semester with the final renditions of our iconic chairs!

Pillars of the Past

Since we last talked, we visited The Oaks in Greensboro, Alabama, where we met its steward, Ian Crawford, who just so happened to be one of Dick Hudgens’ past interns! We learned much more about our professor, his work, and this gorgeous and well-loved home. This house represented Greek revival and the class favorite room was the Greek mythology-themed dressing room!

We also visited the Jemison Mansion in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. This house represented Italianate architecture and provided a unique and large wall-to-wall custom carpet and featured the first interior working toilet and bathtub in Alabama.

In our final class with Professor Hudgens, we carpooled all the way to Columbus, Mississippi. We had the privilege to visit the Riverview Mansion first, one of the finest examples of Greek revival in the South. The second destination was Temple Heights Mansion, which also represented Greek revival architecture in a denser neighborhood site. At this stop, we drew elevations of the home and enjoyed the sights of the lush garden and property in a setting unlike previous rural homes we’ve seen. The final destination was Waverly Mansion. This iconic home featured four floors of beautifully executed historic preservation, with more modern restorations in the east wing. We ended this trip with dinner at Harvey’s and said our goodbyes to Dick until we see him again at Soup Roast with our completed watercolor paintings.

Gone Nuts!

As best friends here in Rural Studio, Biz Helms decided she would treasure nothing more than bringing all the 3rd-year students to her hometown of Dothan to attend the National Peanut Festival. So we all packed into cars, some more than others, and made our way to the Circle City itself.

As for the weekend itinerary details; driving, eating, sleeping, eating again, festival rides, watching cattle shows, viewing the peanut gallery, eating AGAIN, riding more rides, eating one last time, shopping for merchandise, and more driving. As one can see from this weekend, our hearts were as full as our bellies, but our wallets were empty.

Well, thanks for stopping by! We are having so much fun and never wanna leave, but for now we are cherishing every moment out here. As Kati Warner always says, “We are living in the good ‘ole days.”  Check back later to see the end of the semester and what we present for Soup Roast!

See you soon!