At its best, architecture is a reflection of a community's history, values and ideas for the future. The Independent Weekly started the INDesign Awards three years ago to honor the most innovative and thoughtful commercial and residential architecture, historic preservation projects and interior design in Acadiana, and the role they play in our community. For our third annual INDesign Awards, two respected regional professionals with no business or personal connections to any of the entrants served as judges. All commercial and residential projects completed in the 2006 calendar year were eligible.

The following projects all received awards in the 2007 INDesign Awards.

SWEET AS CANDY

Kiki Frayard was shopping for jewelry for her business, Kiki, Life's Little Luxuries, at a trade show in Las Vegas when she overheard Jean-Philippe Meunier. "He has the most delicious French accent," she says. The language drew her to his European-design jewelry cases, and within an hour she had hired him to design not only her furniture but the interior of her new store in The Market at River Ranch.

The polished travertine floors of Kiki set the tone of European sensibility. Clean lines, clear light, curves and contrasts set the shop apart.

Meunier and his partner Bob Nottin own NK newlook, a Miami-based firm that designs high-end furniture and interiors for luxury brands such as Cartier and Chanel. While they work mostly for big operators ' duty-free shops in international airports and destination boutiques on Caribbean islands ' Kiki's small-scale concept of unusual designer jewelry, handbags and perfumes was something they understood.

Frayard wanted a shop that was both chic and comfortable. It was important that it not be too cluttered, nor too cold. She sent Meunier the dimensions of the shop and he began designing, sending her his ideas via e-mail.

"Lighting the store is key," says Meunier, who worked on the project with the architectural firm Pécot and Company ' which designed The Market at River Ranch development. "You can have the most beautiful furniture and accessories and if it is not lit properly, your store is losing selling potential." The shop has glass across the front and high clerestory windows that create pools of natural sunshine, but it's really the interior lighting that creates the proper atmosphere for the jewelry. Recessed into the ceiling is a constellation of small directional lights that challenged the store's electricians. "They thought we were crazy," says Kiki's husband, Rick Frayard. White lights reflect stone and metal, and the jewelry sparkles. Yellow tinted lenses bathe the leather handbags in a warm glow. And up front, where a collection of designer perfumes greet customers, the translucent blue counter sets a cool stage for tempting scents.

There's a gentle allure to the curved back wall. The circle form is reinforced by a round jewelry island in the center of the store and the curved checkout counter at the back. The circles are psychologically welcoming, drawing in customers who may have some trepidation about shopping in a high-end boutique. Underfoot, an inlaid combination of Travertine marble and Ipe wood echoes the shapes like quiet ripples in a small pond.

A stainless steel baseboard matches the checkout countertop. "Stainless steel has two functions," Meunier says. "The first is aesthetic. We liked the cleanness of the material. It's also in contrast with the wood on the floor and the dark wood color of the furniture. There is a contrast of warm and cold ' a balance. Also it is very practical. It doesn't get damaged. So a few years from now, the bottom of the store will still look clean, nice."

Kiki's signature is the candy pink color that runs like a peppermint ice-cream ribbon through the store. "I'm not a pink person," she says, "but I've always loved the combination of this particular shade of pink with dark brown."

"The pink, I like it a lot," Meunier says. "It's like the spice in the meal. It's a vibrant touch. It's very good energy. It's a happy color." ' Mary Tutwiler

I ZINC THIS IS THE PLACE

To appreciate Le Zinc restaurant owner Nan Wier's vision for the building she rescued and revitalized, start with her sense of humor. "It was kind of funny that I bought a bar at my age," she says. "I'm 75 years old, and I like old broken-down things."

The ramshackle building at 204 N. Main St. in Opelousas fit the bill. It had been closed for more than a year and fading into disrepair when Opelousas Museum of Art founder Wier bought it in 2004. She knew that for more than 100 years, Opelousas residents bellied up to the counter of the joint that everyone in town simply referred to as "the Main Street bar." She was determined not to let those memories fade away.

"I went back and wanted to put the building on the National Register of Historic Places but was told the building wasn't architecturally important enough," she says. "My argument was that buildings like that have been used by so many people but are common shouldn't be bulldozed. They should be preserved."

For inspiration, she stood inside the structure and looked heavenward ' straight up at the creaky wooden ceiling. "I had arguments with the contractor, because he said, 'This'll never pass inspection, you can't leave that ceiling like that.'"

Architect Ray Scriber stood by Wier's convictions, and they didn't replace the ceiling. Armed with a facade grant from the Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism's Main Street program, Wier and Scriber kept as many of the building's original walls, fixtures and windowpanes as possible. When the termite-infested floor couldn't be saved, it was replaced by salvaged pine boards from a nearby sugar warehouse.

A visit to New York's Museum of Modern Art inspired the bar's focal point. While at MOMA, Wier saw Henri Rousseau's 1910 painting The Dream, his tastefully sensuous rendering of a female nude reclining in the jungle. The Opelousas bar was a male-only tavern at the turn of the century, and female nudes were often displayed ' so Wier had an exact replica of The Dream created to scale,and hung it over the bar. She used her encyclopedic art history to carry the theme throughout the building, commissioning full-scale nude recreations from the works of Picasso, Matisse, Dali, Manet, Magritte and more.

The bar itself is the result of Wier's keen appreciation of history. Early 20th century bars were often made of zinc for durability, so the existing formica and plywood bar was replaced by zinc ' hence the new restaurant's name, Le Zinc.

When the restaurant opened, Wier was overwhelmed by the reaction from patrons. "Everyone knows the building, and people were so glad it was being restored," she says. "I was stunned by the outpouring of affection for the building."

The most gratifying compliment came during a visit by Sidney and Walda Besthoff, the noted art collectors from New Orleans who retain their own curator. Says Wier, "They walked in and the curator said, I love the ceiling!" ' Scott Jordan

LET THERE BE LITE

As the site of the world's most advanced immersive imaging system, and an engine for economic development, state officials envisioned The Louisiana Immersive Technologies Enterprise emphasizing the center's prominent place in the community. "They wanted to attract attention visually and architecturally to say, 'There's something special happening here,'" says Paul Cutt, chief operating officer of LITE.

After putting out a national request for proposals, LITE organizers selected an all-star design team consisting of Charles Beazley of the local firm Guidry Beazley alongside the New Orleans architecture firm of Eskew+Dumez+Ripple, known in Lafayette for its work on both the Acadiana Center for the Arts and the Paul and Lulu Hilliard University Art Museum.

LITE's geometric design features walls of brick, glass and metal overlapping and intersecting at sharp 90-degree angles. The north end has a chrome bottom that cantilevers over a small pond, filled with cypress trees and blooming Louisiana iris. Newly planted palmettos and live oaks line the streets around the center and will eventually provide a shady canopy.

Along the back of the building, a long glass wall overlooks an outdoor plaza area, containing a shallow cascading fountain surrounded by horsetail grass with several bollards that serve as both lights and seating. Inside, the building is distinctly modern, with colorful geometric furniture and shotgun hallways amongst the longest in Lafayette.

Living up to its billing, the building is loaded with technological features, including its world-class supercomputer housed in a specially ventilated back room with rows of refrigerator-sized cabinets containing 384 computer processors. LITE has three theaters rooms, all with 3-D capabilities.

The center's main attraction, a 3-D "Total Immersion Space" ' which allows users to step inside architectural plans, computer simulations, or practically any other set of data that can be visualized ' is a 10-foot cube with projectors surrounding it on all six sides. Rather than bury the TIS inside the heart of the building, designers wanted it spotlighted center stage.

Local advertising executive Sandy Kaplan, who was on the search committee that selected LITE's design team, says the design we all see today ' the foggy glass egg that glows atop the wooden deck in front of the building ' won out over almost a dozen other options.

"Whether it was going to be a ball sheathed in gold leaf, or reflective chrome or like Epcot Center, the plan was always to take this particular element and make an architectural statement of it," he says.

A 59-foot-high decorative shell built around LITE's TIS room ' the egg, as it's now known ' has its own digital lights inside it that can be programmed to light up the glass in a multitude of colors. Kaplan says that by all accounts, the building's design has been a huge success. "Everybody knows about the egg," he says. "This is a world class facility. We wanted people to be driving down the street going, 'What the hell is that glowing thing over there?' When you say the LITE Center today, people know what it is and where it is." ' Nathan Stubbs

SLEEK CONTEMPORARY

When Moss Motors commissioned Liz Dejean and Stephanie Cornay Dugan to design its 4,500-square-foot executive offices, President Sharon Moss requested that the space reflect her dealerships' elegant automotive brands, as well as her personal taste and that of her son, General Manager Coury Moss. Keeping with her community-based philanthropy, she emphasized that local artists and fabricators be used for all areas of artistic and custom design. "So, coupled with the challenge of the design was the search for local artists and craftsmen to produce it," says lead designer Dejean.

The design team selected innovative components for ceiling, lighting and wall coverings which had never before been installed in this market. "Making the design come together was often a painstaking effort with area reps from companies like Cooper Lighting, MDC Wallcoverings, and USG teaming up with J. B. Mouton, the general contractor," Dejean explains. "And the results were flawless." Black acrylic and stainless steel molding encases the main conference room, which showcases a custom digital wall covering of the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren by Lafayette's Chris LeBlanc of Design Vision. The adjacent wall features three Warhol-style portraits by Carey McQue of Sharon, Coury and Billy Jack Moss, founder of Moss Motors. Lounging in chairs at the main conference room table under a stainless steel mesh ceiling with recessed pin lighting gives guests the feeling of riding in a sleek luxury automobile. A custom black "liquid leather" A/V credenza built by Glen Armand of Alexandria completes the room's modern look. "I call Glen 'The Wizard,'" Dejean says. "He can construct any piece of furniture that a designer can conceive." For Sharon's executive office, Armand fabricated the Hollywood Regency Desk comprised of inlaid mirrored panels with neo-classic gold leafing and monogram detail painted by Craig McCullen of Whoojoo Glass. "Sharon's desk is certainly the pièce de résistance," Dejean says. "Taking off on her sharp features and flair for dressing and accessorizing, we in essence encased her in a sea of pearlized crème silks, marble, and velvets which allowed her persona to stand out, but also provided a calm atmosphere."

Many pieces from one of Sharon's favorite designers, Barbara Barry, were selected for the space, including the chairs and oval cocktail table in Sharon's snazzy office, and the chest in the executive penthouse. Also highlighting Sharon's glamorous digs are a cream velvet sofa and an ebony credenza with white linen inlaid panels selected by Nancy Martin of Albarado's.

"Sharon Moss is one of those clients who sort of turns a designer loose," Dejean says. "She had a clear vision of what she wanted for this project, and had an 'art director' sort of say. She led us to the edge of what is 'new' or 'in,' all the while having an appreciation for design components that are critical to good design, like lighting, furnishings and art."

In designing Coury's executive office, Dejean and Dugan's team was inspired by his complexion and dark features. "It is set in an olive and matt silver palette ' very dramatic and masculine, yet understated," Dejean explains. On the wall hangs an original oil painting by George Rodrigue commissioned by Coury's father, Billy Jack Moss, depicting an early model Mercedes. Coury also commissioned a mixed media collage for the executive penthouse from his former classmate, Ramsey Ayers. Dejean worked closely with Innovative Intelligent Design Inc. of Lafayette to select furnishings for the project.

Out of all of the unique design aspects of the Moss Motors project, Dejean's favorite is the oval marble conference table paired with white leather chairs. "It's just so classic and clean," she says, "design that speaks for itself." ' Lisa Hanchey

FUNCTION WITH FLAIR

Louisiana's health care industry, especially in Lafayette, has been growing at a rapid pace in recent years, and Don Dupuis' 37-year-old Acadiana Computer Systems has expanded right along with it. With offices spread out at four Lafayette sites and new business coming through the doors every day, Dupuis decided it was time to consolidate the local operations of his company, which provides practice management services/software and health care consulting services to physicians and other health care entities. And he did it right, creating a contemporary style campus consisting of 30,000 square feet of space at 324 Dulles Road. In addition to the primary facility, the complex also includes two additional buildings and a third that is under construction.

But it's what's inside of ACS's main building, the work of interior designer Mollie Saucier, that best reflects the immense success of this home-grown business, which has offices in six additional Louisiana cities and clients as far as Pennsylvania. The Dulles headquarters opens into a multi-functioning lobby area ' where dark wood contrasts the stainless steel to create warmth in the contemporary atmosphere. The interior designer, who worked with architect David Courville on the project, says the lobby's custom furnishings were designed to provide a semi-private workspace for the receptionist, a comfortable yet durable waiting area, and a place for clients or employees who are in training or product orientation in the adjacent room to retreat to if they need to conduct other business. They can sit in table-top club chairs that have phone and Internet access or just take a break and catch up on the latest news from CNN on one of the many flat screen TV monitors placed throughout the building. To give the space ultimate adaptability, "most of the furniture is mobile," Saucier adds. She says lighting was also an important component of that flexibility mission. "We used a lot of accent and ambient lighting. It just makes it really flexible."

Because of the high amount of traffic the lobby will experience, she used molded rubber baseboards that resemble wood and a relatively new furniture fabric called crypton, which has the properties of vinyl (long-lasting and easy to clean) but is woven. "It was developed for the health care [industry]," Saucier says.

The custom tables in the training room can be easily configured to accommodate different functions, and the laminate tilt tops on the tables and flip up seats on the vinyl upholstered chairs make them durable and easy to nest and store. "It's a training facility, but it needed to be in an executive-type setting," Saucier says, explaining that at times the large cherry-stained solid wood double doors to the training facility are left open to give the space an airy feeling. For ACS's grand opening, the doors were ajar, she says, "and it flowed very nicely."

The stairwell leading to the second level's executive offices features Murano glass wall sconces and a seven-light canopy pendant fixture centered on the ceiling above the circular stair landing. "We kind of tried to jazz that up because the majority of physicians will walk up there," Saucier says. The second-floor lobby is also a multi-functional space, offering an adjacent small room that overlooks the front entrance plaza. In this room, clients or guests of company officials can have casual meetings or make private phone calls away from the executive offices and boardroom.

Both the table and sideboard in the adjoining executive meeting room have a unique inlaid contemporary edging that perfectly pairs the clean lines of the space with the traditional elements of a boardroom. Several Floyd Sonnier pen-and-ink drawings hang on the wall, a small representation of Dupuis' extensive collection of the late Cajun artist's works, which are prominently displayed throughout the building. Dupuis and Sonnier maintained a personal and professional relationship for 30 years. "We sold a lot of his drawings to our clients, and sent his calendars as client gifts," Dupuis says. "We still do. They're still producing his calendar." ' Leslie Turk

EDGY AND NATURAL

For their work with the second phase of Our Savior's Church in Broussard, the Silver Award for Commercial Architecture & Design goes to the design team of architect Charles Beazley and project manager Dan Bush of Guidry Beazley Architects.

The first phase of the church, for which Guidry Beazley Architects was also responsible, was completed in the spring of 2002. The campus' focal point is a 100-year-old live oak tree and includes a 900-seat sanctuary, nursery, offices and multi-purpose facilities.

Along with its large sanctuary, the church also had a large and active youth program and wanted to build a separate space for youth activities. The church's second burst of construction added a 4,500-square-foot children's building for grades 1 through 5 and was completed in 2006. The facility has a 200-seat auditorium, complete with stage and puppet stage area, and provides a secure facility that allows parents to check their children in and out of the building. And a second building, the 7,000-square-foot youth facility for middle school and high school churchgoers, features a 275-seat auditorium rigged with a state of the art sound system, theater-style seating and acoustics that allow for live musical performances.

"The youth facility is used at all times," Beazley says. "They've got lots of bands and music and youth activities. They get together in the coffee shop, and the rest of the church also uses the coffee shop for meetings and gatherings." While the coffee area isn't a commercial operation, Beazley says the church wanted that kind of atmosphere for its young followers to hang out, and the space comfortably seats about 60 people and does have hot fresh java on hand.

Beazley faced a couple of challenges in designing the church's new facilities. "This is becoming a fairly large church," he says. "They have 1,600 people there on the weekend. It's a grouping of buildings, a campus type of approach, rather than just a big building like First Baptist. The central focus of [Our Savior's Church's] whole campus is a huge oak tree in the middle." Beazley says he had to protect the tree and design around it while connecting the new facility to the existing site and the tree.

Although determining the sites for the two new buildings was tricky, the youth facility presented another challenge all its own. The idea was to construct a fairly inexpensive space, which led to the idea of a metal building. But with live music inside as a key component, Beazley was concerned with the acoustics of the room. "We had to deaden the room considerably because when you play music that loud, you start getting a lot of bounce and echo." Fortunately, the corrugated and perforated metal used as side walls and filled with insulation helped soundproof the room, while utilizing the durability of the metal. "That rugged-looking material actually became a sound wall material," he says. "It became a rugged-looking contemporary area. It's trying to be kind of edgy, which is great for kids ' great for teenagers anyway. They like edgy." ' R. Reese Fuller


INDESIGN AWARDS 2007 WINNERS

ARCHITECTURE AND DESIGN ' COMMERCIAL

GOLD MEDAL
Project: LITE ' Louisiana Immersive Technologies Enterprise
Design Firm: Guidry Beazley Architects and Eskew Dumez Ripple, a joint venture

SILVER MEDAL
Project: Our Savior's Church, 655 Hwy. 96, Broussard
Design Firm: Guidry Beazley Architects

BRONZE MEDAL
Project: UL Lafayette's Computer Science facility
Design Firm: The MSBS Group ' Architects

HONORABLE MENTION
Project: The Office of Paul J. Allain, Architect
Design Firm: Paul J. Allain

HONORABLE MENTION
Project: A New Hub City Diner
Design Firm: The MSBS Group ' Architects

ARCHITECTURE AND DESIGN ' HISTORIC PRESERVATION

GOLD MEDAL
Project: LeZinc Main Street Bar & Restaurant, 204 N. Main St., Opelousas
Design Team: Ray W. Scriber, architect and Nan Wier, Owner

INTERIOR DESIGN ' COMMERCIAL

GOLD MEDAL
Project: kiki
Design Firm: Florida licensed Jean Phillip Meunier working under Louisiana licensed architect Kirby Pecot of Pecot and Company Architects

SILVER MEDAL
Project: Executive offices of the New Moss Motors
Designers: Liz DeJean & Stephanie Cornay Dugan; Associate Designers: Beth Beiser Gerace & Mollie K. Saucier

SILVER MEDAL
Project: Acadiana Computer Systems, Inc., 324 Dulles Dr., Lafayette
Designer: Mollie K. Saucier; David Courville, AIA and Angelique Hernandez, Associate


Smart Growth Lecture and INDesign Awards Luncheon
11:30 a.m. Thursday, May 24
Keynote speaker: Jeremy Harris, former mayor of Honolulu
Tickets are $30 per person, with tables of eight for $255
For tickets or more info, contact Drue Kennerson at 988-4607, ext. 118 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .


ABOUT THE JUDGES:

Beth R. Miller is Interior Design Program Director at Mississippi State University. She is a graduate of Louisiana Tech University and Mississippi University for Women, and is completing work on a doctorate in MSU's College of Education. Miller is president-elect of the south central chapter of the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID).

Michael A. McClure, R.A. is an assistant professor and graduate coordinator at the School of Architecture and Design at UL Lafayette. He is also a partner with Ursula Emery McClure in the professional design and research firm emerymcclure architecture based in Lafayette.

The design and research work of emerymcclure architecture has won many design awards and has been published in numerous publications including Dwell Magazine, Southern Living Magazine, and 306090. Its work has been exhibited in the Ogden Museum of Southern Art and was included in the international exhibition Resilient Foundations: The Gulf Coast after Katrina at the Venice Biennale.

As an educator, Mr. McClure received the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture / American Institute of Architecture Students New Faculty Teaching Award in 2006.

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