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Rush Creek

It's an amazing home, but you wouldn't want to pay the gas bill. Or, at least you'd want to wait until Marcia Conrad's students get done with it.

A historic Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired home served as a laboratory for Conrad's Construction Management 2994 class this winter, bringing together the history textbook and hands-on work.

Last semester, they studied the home and the surrounding Rush Creek Village, an enclave of Wright-style houses in Worthington. This semester, they're rolling up their sleeves to examine the house and conduct a comprehensive energy audit. Along the way, they talked to neighborhood historians, an engineer, the head of the Worthington Historical Society and the inspector who conducted the house's official energy audit.

Conrad, an architect herself, has studied Rush Creek and is a fan of its modern, nature-inspired design. But she's the first to admit it wasn't built to 21st-century efficiency standards.

Rush Creek"Back in the '50s and '60s, energy was cheap," says Conrad. "Now it's not."

Although Construction Management student Scott Walker says he's more of a "hands-on" learner, he was still fascinated by the house's history and design. He looks forward to putting the lessons into practice.

"I'm hoping that once we do the energy audit, I can learn some things to do on my own home," says Walker.

In the living room, students Monica Stewart and Cristino Rivera measured the height of the room to calculate the room's volume and the pitch of the roof. It's 14 feet from the slate tile floor to the exposed wood ceiling.

After working as a plumber for 18 years, Stewart is studying Construction Management in an effort to move into a management position. She was also excited to tour the house – she's a fan of Frank Lloyd Wright and toured several Wright homes on a recent trip to Chicago.

Martha and Richard Wakefield built the house after visiting Frank Lloyd Wright's studio in Arizona, hiring designer Thedore van Fossen and completing it in 1957. The Wakefield House sparked the creation of Rush Creek, and van Fossen designed the original houses in the community. Rush Creek has a unity of design that is unique in the region.

The house reflects Wright's "organic" theory of architecture, says Conrad, and is designed to harmonize with its surroundings. Its roofline is long and low, and it has the odd angles of a natural feature. The house has decorative touches such as ornamental window screens and built-in lights. Furniture and shelves are built into walls as if they grew there. The house is built of cinder block and exposed wood, as if a forest had grown up around a stone outcropping.

But its most striking feature may be its walls of glass, including a glass-enclosed walkway that stretches from the living room to the back bedrooms. The glass walls invite in natural light during the day, and this evening the class had a 180-degree view as a trio of deer meandered across the front lawn.

Student Krysta Leonard was assigned to examine the glass corridor, working down it inch by inch and marking all drafts. An Architecture student who studies Computer Aided Drafting, Leonard says the house inspires her creativity. Its unexpected angles are a break from the square lines of most modern houses.

Rivera was also a fan.

"It's a hidden gem of Columbus," Rivera says. "You can't be anything but interested."

A few minutes later, Rivera and Walker found themselves in the draftiest part of the house. "The windows are killing this place," Rivera says.

"At the same time, I'd still love to live here," Walker says.

Columbus State's Construction Management associate degree prepares students for entry-level jobs with all types of construction companies. The Construction Management department also offers certificates such as Field Supervision, Estimating/Bidding, Residential Construction Management and Facility Conservation and Energy Management.

Columbus State Construction Management students are all over town, ensuring historic homes -- and tomorrow's classics -- are solid, efficient and warm. Learn more about Construction Management

Rush Creek inspection