is a studio for architecture, planning, and design based in Saint Louis, USA.

Masons Bend Community Center

Masons Bend, Alabama

The building, designed and executed while at Auburn University Rural Studio, serves a small community called Masons Bend. The process of developing the program, the architecture, and its execution was all initially open. After researching the needs of Masons Bend’s citizens, we proposed a public, multifunctional, open-air space on a privately owned site. While the site is awkward and small, it addresses and adjoins the three extended families that make up the community. Design addresses the privately owned, yet publicly accessible space.

dew on glass

Form follows Function.

The formal architectural language follows the multifunctional nature of the space. The form resists a specific building typology, instead smoothly hybridizing vernacular chapel and barn forms. Innovative material reuse and improvised construction techniques further blends vernacular formal language into a new, local language.

Scaling effect

Composition of walls and roofs make the space and site appear larger. From the front approach, rammed earth walls taper away and down toward the ground at each end to force a perspective on the eye. The barn-like roof breaks into two parts: the thin aluminum sheets and the pristine automotive glass skylight. This effect also takes place as you approach and leave the building parallel to these tapered walls.

Materials and Construction

To achieve maximum effect with a small budget, the building uses alternative and cheap material sources. The rammed earth has a timeless character. The automotive glass feels pristine and contemporary.

We tested both materials for our particular locale and application. The process of developing the glass system was particularly involved. The team built a series of mock-ups to test various types of auto glass, fastening techniques, and substructures.


Team: Forrest Fulton, Adam Gerndt, Dale Rush, Jon Schumann

Institution: Auburn University Rural Studio

Advising Professors: Samuel Mockbee, Bryan Bell

Designed: 1999-2000
Construction Completed: 2000

Cost: $15,000 (majority of materials are reused + and little labor cost)

Funding: Potrero Nuevo Fund

Client: Masons Bend, Alabama

4 Responses to “Masons Bend Community Center”

  1. [...] of Mason’s Bend Chapel, one of my favorite public interest projects, designed and built through Rural Studio, 1999-2000 / [...]

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