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Spring RS20 Update


In the final months of the year-long celebration of Rural Studio’s 20th anniversary, the Studio aims to complete eight 20K Houses and five community projects.

The 20K House project began in 2005 as a Rural Studio research project with the objective to design and build beautiful homes that can be reproduced on a large scale and built by a contractor. The 20K House addresses the need for affordable housing by providing a beautiful, efficient, well-built home. To date, the Studio has built 12 versions of the 20K House.

This year, four teams of fifth year and outreach students will design and build four new two-bedroom versions of the 20K House for local families. In addition, the students will build two model homes, reproductions of 20Kv9 (MacArthur’s House) and 20Kv10 (Joanne’s House), for Rural Studio research and development. The model homes will be owned and maintained by Rural Studio, providing an invaluable tool for collecting data and perform Post-Occupancy and efficiency tests, such as blower door evaluations. Data collected will allow the Studio to analyze the efficiency of the houses and push the detailing forward to make the home more efficient. The new two-bedroom versions aim to expand the product line range and appeal to families.

In addition, the third year studio has an opportunity to build houses for Rose Lee and her son, whose first Rural Studio house burned down in 2011. On the original site of the burned house, students will build two 20K Houses. The students are challenged to choose two previously-built versions of the 20K House product line.

The following community projects are also scheduled to be completed this spring:

The Newbern Library Project will transform the Bank of Newbern, originally built in 1906, into a community library and resource center. The library will provide the town with a diverse collection of books, computers and Internet access, and after school tutoring sessions. The student team began construction by restoring the existing brick structure, preserving the image of the historic bank, after which they will build a small addition to its rear. The client is the old Bank of Newbern Board and the Newbern City Council.

The Greensboro Boys & Girls Club Project will create new facilities for the Boys & Girls Club of Greensboro at the site of the Greensboro Recreation Center. The structure will be one of the largest built by Rural Studio to date, covering a footprint of 5,100 ft². The program will include a classroom, restrooms, computer lab, office, snack area, and a 2,400 suare feet covered outdoor space. The client is the Hale County Boys & Girls Club and the City of Greensboro.

The following projects are located in Lions Park in Greensboro and the clients are the Lions Park Committee, the City of Greensboro, and Hale County Commission:

The Lions Park Landscape Project takes advantage of unused, interstitial spaces in Lions Park by transforming them into zones for storm water management and planting. The landscape project comes after years of student work concentrated on specific sites within Lions Park and succeeds in unifying the park by implementing interventions across the entire 40 acre landscape.

The Lions Park Fitness Project will provide the community of Greensboro with seven pieces of outdoor fitness equipment. The fitness equipment will be positioned along a forest edge near the south-west corner of Lions Park where it can take advantage of existing shade and views to a nearby pasture. A small pathway will lead visitors from one machine to another in a sequence designed to provide an efficient full- body workout. The project is sponsored by Alabama Department of Public Health.

The Lions Park Scout Hut Project will create a home in Lions Park for the Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts of Greensboro. The student team is constructing the Scout Hut using a series of wooden bent frames assembled on the ground and raised into place atop a concrete slab. The team is using harvested pine thinnings as an exterior cladding and structural ballast by stacking treated logs inside the raised bent frames. The Scout Hut will be 1,800 square feet and will include a multi-purpose space, kitchen, restroom, and storage space for two Scout gear trailers.

Thus far, during the anniversary year, the Studio has featured 29 former students in a three-part Alumni Lecture Series, hosted a Soup Roast at the end of the fall semester with project reviews and tours, and seen over 25 lectures from architects, engineers, artists, graphic designers, educators, and affordable housing specialists. While the 20th anniversary has been extraordinary, with visits from Glen Murcutt, Ted Flato, Rick Joy, Wendell Burnette, and Marlon Blackwell, just to name a few, the spring semester of this significant year continues with another incredible lineup of over twenty national and international lecture guests.

This spring, the Studio will host a Spring Fest dinner to honor Hale County’s culinary culture, its land, and its farmers. Celebrity Southern Chef Scott Peacock will prepare a special dinner, locally sourced and cooked at the Rural Studio Farm. The 20th anniversary will culminate with a two-day Super Pig Roast on April 25-26, 2014. Invited guests include American Institute of Architects President Helene Combs Dreiling and Vice President Robert Ivy, Steve Badanes of the Jersey Devil Design Build, and families of the late Sambo Mockbee and D.K. Ruth.

For more information about upcoming lectures or events, click HERE, or to follow the projects’ progress, click HERE

In other BIG news:

Most recently, the Newbern Town Hall was voted the 2014 Building of the Year in the category of Public Architecture by ArchDaily readers and the Safe House Museum in Greensboro was the Third Place in the public voting in World-architects eMagazine Building of the Year American-Architects 2013 online competition.

Last fall, the Adopt-A-20K online giving campaign, created to support construction of eight 20K Houses, was an incredible success. Rural Studio alumni and friends everywhere affectionately turned the campaign into a giving challenge between their cities. While Chicago was the first group of alumni and friends to raise $20,000, Birmingham led the challenge in donations. From across the globe, Rural Studio has witnessed incredible generosity and goodwill. (To support Rural Studio and be part of the 20th anniversary, please visit

The Studio is also proud to announce Rural Studio at Twenty. Designing and Building in Hale County, Alabama, the new Rural Studio book by Andrew Freear, Elena Barthel, Andrea Oppenheimer Dean, and Timothy Hursley will be available in bookstore May 2014!

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