construction

Workshop #6 Jake LaBarre

With his extensive background in construction and carpentry, Jake LaBarre has been teaching students how buildings come together and how to detail them since 2011, even acting as 3rd-Year Visiting Assistant Professor at Rural Studio for a year. Jake lives in Seattle, teaching a design-build studio at the University of Washington, and he currently works at Building Work.

The Detailing and Construction workshop, taught by Jake LaBarre, taught students how to begin detailing buildings. The intent of the workshop was for students to gain a better understanding of constructability through the examination of the order of operations in detailing. In order to achieve this, the workshop examined past Rural Studio projects to learn why and how they were detailed. In order for students to even think about creating their own details, they first needed to understand how other buildings were detailed and why those decisions were made.

This workshop acted as a complement and follow-up to the earlier Contemporary Structures, by Emily McGlohn. Firstly, it provided a better working understanding on typical components used in building assemblies. More importantly, Jake stressed the importance of not relying only on flat two-dimensional drawings of wall sections using three-dimensional drawings but to use three-dimensional drawings as well. This became clear to students when they constructed drawings of axons for the same buildings they had previously drawn sections for in the Contemporary Structures workshop. Students realized just how much information was not included when just shown in section. By drawing out how materials come together, the kinds of fasteners that were used, and the three-dimensional thicknesses added another layer of information about how the buildings were constructed.

Students gained the confidence to know where to start detailing. It became clear that before beginning any project that they should first do thorough precedent research. With so many details out there—even just in the catalog of Rural Studio projects where previous students spent a great deal of time figuring out the detailing—so there is no need to start from scratch.

Workshop #3 Emily McGlohn

Birmingham, AL native, Emily McGlohn, currently runs the 3rd-Year Studio in Newbern. She has quite a long history with Rural Studio participating as a student in both the 2nd-year and 5th-year studios, and after graduation spent three years as “Clerk of Works.” Before bringing her expertise on building performance and hands-on education back to Newbern, Emily spent several years working in Virginia and teaching at Mississippi State.

The Contemporary Enclosures workshop, taught by Rural Studio 3rd-Year professor Emily McGlohn, primarily focused on learning from past Rural Studio projects by studying them through wall sections. This allowed students to identify the reasons why Rural Studio has gone from the inventive use of simple materials in projects to using common commercial materials while building an understanding of performance, specifically through thermal-, air-, and moisture-barriers, as well as learning about detailed construction. By examining the progression of Rural Studio projects and comparing R-values, students saw the greater attention paid to building performance that has occurred over the years and the variety of building types that have been tested.

It’s important that students confidently design for our subtropical humid climate, to know things such as when to use a vapor barrier versus a vapor retarder. After having looked at so many Rural Studio projects at a surface-level, students had the opportunity to study them in-depth through drawings, archived documents, photos, and in person. The drawings that students produced ended up being more accurate and detailed than the construction documents. Through this process, students gained both a more intimate knowledge of how buildings come together piece by piece and a familiarity with a myriad of different construction types and building materials. It became clear to students that while earlier Studio projects may appear more creative and unique, more recent projects have the ability to be easily maintained by its owners and replicated outside of Rural Studio.

Students gained the tools to design for the mixed-humid climate that they live and work in, making these performance strategies a priority in their designs.