With that in mind, The Independent Weekly set out to honor the most innovative and thoughtful commercial and residential architecture, historical preservation projects and interior and landscape design in Acadiana ' and build awareness of the role they play in our community. We tapped a panel of four respected local and regional professionals to serve as judges and ensured that none of the judges had business or personal connections to any of the entrants. All commercial and residential projects completed in the 2004 calendar year were eligible.
SILVER AND BRONZE
COMMERCIAL INTERIOR DESIGN
RESIDENTIAL INTERIOR DESIGN
GOLD WINNER, COMMERCIAL ARCHITECTURE
Homework was bad enough, but memories of the brick-and-mortar dreariness of school are enough to make many adults shudder at their early education. The long hallways and lifeless gray classrooms ' often without windows ' were enough to make any 8-year-old stare at the clock and pray for the school day to end.
Architect Allen Bacque of MBSB Group Architects didn't want that to happen to the kids at J. Wallace James Elementary School. When Bacque was hired by former Lafayette Parish school superintendent Dr. Michael Zolkoski to design the $9 million project, his goal was to make the school's visual appeal and layout conducive to learning.
Bacque earned the job after designing Live Oak Elementary School. Zolkoski and his successor, Dr. James Easton, asked Bacque to use Live Oak as a model, but gave him free reign on his use of color and details. "Little changes rippled through the entire project, and I think it's more interesting," says Bacque. "We used an embellished terrazzo pattern for artistic themes. It's an arts and technology school, and we made it much more colorful."
That's evident before visitors even step foot inside J. Wallace James Elementary. Bacque designed a bright and angular aviation-themed canopy at the school's entrance, extending the canopy so parents and children can stay dry on rainy days. Right inside the entrance, a painting of a Nautilus shell on the floor is intertwined with blue and green rivers that flow and criss-cross down the corridors.
The overall design of the school uses a pod concept, which enabled Bacque to use different color schemes to give students cues toward their appropriate classrooms and wings. "It gives each grade, K-5, its own area, so a kindergarten child is not going to a restroom where the older kids are," says Bacque. "Each grade has its own primary color. The halls have big bench seats; it helps breaks up the monotony."
Bacque also made sure every classroom felt like a warm and bright space; even classrooms that don't have exterior windows have high windows facing the hallways that let in natural light. Instead of cement or tile floors, a brand of durable carpet is used to make the rooms more acoustically pleasing and feel like home.
The school's exterior spaces continue the dual themes of comfort and education. The courtyard has a sundial that allows students to stand on the date and let their shadow tell time. And local artist Pat Juneau designed a metal arch made of children's silhouettes. "I thought it was important to have work by a working artist," says Bacque.
The library of any school is one of the most important spaces for learning, and Bacque made J. Wallace James' library one of the cornerstones of his design. The room is dominated by a large column, which Bacque transformed into a faux tree made out of wood and steel. It stretches toward the ceiling, where a whimsical drawing of a cloud inspires dreams and contemplation. And that's the core of the architect's vision.
"The idea was that learning can be fun," he says. "We want to send a message to the kids: you're special, and we care enough to make a school that feels good." ' SJ
GOLD WINNER, COMMERCIAL INTERIOR DESIGN
In Kirby J. Guidry's orthodontist office, patients are greeted with the words "Brace Yourself" on the entrance door, and a graphic design of the word "Smile" leads them to the operating wing of the office. Designers Liz Dejean and Todd Zimmerman of Liz & Todd wanted to create an interactive space for the office's adolescent and adult patients. The playful graphics mix with cigar pendant lamps and retro drapery panels in the waiting area, creating an updated space that still fits its 1970s exterior.
"The design is timeless and completely stimulating, not just from a patient perspective, but the employees have told us they love to go to work," says Dejean. "It's a total change in energy and office environment. Part of the challenge was adhering to a budget while efficiently utilizing the space. Design elements such as 22-inch wide horizontal striped walls painted tone on tone help expand the space, and incorporating existing 1970s furnishings allowed the designers to cut down on costs.
The stylish waiting area's design carries over into the more industrial operating floor, with circular floor art, a skyscraper ceiling and lighted seating cubes. The designers also combined form with function and incorporated medical equipment, lab and dark room design, lighting and hands-free washing stations, resulting in a safe and healthy environment for both patients and staff. "The space reflects a state of the art image and has proven to be considerably more efficient and profitable," says Dejean. ' EZ
GOLD WINNER, RESIDENTIAL INTERIOR DESIGN
Designer Monique Breaux of Posh Exclusive Interiors was called into the home of Andree and Victor Guillory in River Ranch to create a warm and cozy atmosphere with a sophisticated elegance. Although the exterior of the home is country French, Breaux says the interior was designed to be a departure from that style's norms in Louisiana. Walls were given a custom surface finish and hung with numerous chandeliers and lighting. The master bedroom's stucco finish was designed to patina with age, and a barrel ceiling in the master bath makes for a grand space.
Breaux's unique touches helped personalize the home for the Guillorys. A living room was redesigned to function as a gentleman's room to better fit the couple's lifestyle. "When people walk in, one of the spaces they are most overwhelmed with is the gentleman's room because of its size, scale and uniqueness," Breaux says. "The handburnished walls along with the Old World map cracking through the plaster on the ceiling give a feeling of stability and Old World charm to enhance the space tremendously."
Another unique space is the theatre room, designed for lazy Sunday afternoons and watching football games. The room is tucked into a corner upstairs behind a pair of tall mahogany doors. Andree and Victor's daughter's room ' designed for "little princess meets teenager" ' includes some personalized elements as well. Two chandeliers are staggered over the nightstand to allow more room on the furniture, and a pair of Venetian mirrors over the bed help open up the room and reflect light.
Elegant furnishings and finishes from Posh Interiors throughout the home help round out the look of sophistication. Custom red and gold bedding in the master bedroom complements Italian silk beaded window treatments. The master bath's Venetian plaster walls accent polished gold travertine floors. And the dining room features a handcarved Italian mirror suspended from the ceiling to add drama. Says Breaux, "The features in the house are endless." ' EZ
GOLD WINNER, RESIDENTIAL ARCHITECTURE AND LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE
When it came to both residential and landscape architecture, the home of Sammy and Rosary Russo earned the top honors in both categories. The home was designed by Mike Landry Planning and Design, and the landscape was created by Grass Roots Inc., both based in Lafayette.
Located in River Ranch, the 1.5 story home has four bedrooms and 5.5 bathrooms (not including the half bath for the pool) and is comprised of 7,200 square feet of living space, with a total of 9,600 under roof. The home was built by Kenneth Lagneaux of Lagneaux's Construction Inc. in Duson.
Landry's challenge was creating a spacious home that still felt intimate for its residents. "They wanted something that was homey, warm and cozy with large rooms," Landry says. "I paid particular attention to the old way of seeing, which is balance and proper proportions. It's a very warm rambling country French home with great outdoor spaces. This home had to feel Old World."
All of the Russo's furnishings are antique, and it was imperative that the home reflected the owner's tastes. "You couldn't have bright Sheetrock," says Landry. "It had to be soft." Throughout the house, antique doors are used; closet doors were imported from France and old armoire doors were converted into doors for linen closets. "We also used a lot of old timbers in the inside and a lot of brick," he says. "The old timbers were hand-hewn and very old; they came from Canada. Inside and outside, they're all over."
That Old World feel continues into the back yard. With an outdoor kitchen equipped with a commercial grill and hood, brick arches, old pine ceilings and ceiling fans, Landry says you can sit on the porch at high noon in the middle of August and still be shaded and comfortable.
"When you walk out the back door from the living room, you see the fountain and the pool line up," he says. "Then when you get to the fountain, there's another porch ' the sitting porch, I call it. Then you step down to the pool, and there's another axis from left to right with the pigeonnier on the left and the arbor to the right."
Rusty Ruckstuhl of Grass Roots Inc. was responsible for taking the look of the home and complementing it with simpatico landscape design. "They wanted to create spaces, different rooms of a garden," Ruckstuhl says. "Space is very limited in River Ranch, so they wanted to take their space and create spaces within it. They have a pool, a fountain and a patio, but the overall glue was to create arrangements of outside rooms. Inside your house, you have feelings in every room, and the landscape has those same feelings."
Within that restricted space, each landscape section still expresses its own character. There are some 20 shade trees (live oak, willow oak, red oak, nuttal oak, cypress tree and pistachio), 60 ornamental trees (golden raintree, crepe myrtle, magnolia, parsley hawthorne, holly, dogwood sweet olive, silver dell and vitex), 200 encore azaleas that bloom with every season, 200 camellias, 400 indigo plants, as well as ferns, plumbago, several varieties of ginger, ardisia, spirea, forsythia, cassia, irises, society garlic and antique roses. In the courtyard, an herb garden ' lavender, mint, thyme, parsley, basil and rosemary ' grows next to a garden of cut flowers of daisies and zinnias. There are also approximately 1,200 seasonal color plants throughout the property ' impatiens, caladiums, verbena, zinnias, phlox, hibiscus, begonia and petunias.
With nearly a year's worth of discussion with the Russos and three months of construction, Ruckstuhl says, "We had a very limited site, and a lot of stuff had to go on in that site. There were some different points of view, but the end result is what we wanted. The most enjoyable thing is having a client who works with you, who doesn't have to have it one way written in stone." ' RRF
GOLD WINNER, HISTORICAL PRESERVATION
Whether he is designing new sustainable homes to function without electricity or preserving some of the area's historic buildings, local architect and UL architecture professor Eddie Cazayoux's projects explore a past way of life. In restoring Le Vieux Presbytere ' French for "priest house" ' in Church Point, Cazayoux spent nearly two months tearing into walls and examining the floor and roof structure of the home. He scraped paint to identify every last detail of the original 1887 building's design. And he even called a meeting with elder residents of Church Point to get firsthand depictions of the original form of the priest house.
Cazayoux was hired for the job after the house had been moved by the city from its original location behind Our Lady of Sacred Heart Catholic Church. Not wanting to see the building languish or be demolished, the Diocese donated it to the city, which found a new home for it on Rue Iry Lejeune courtesy of property donated by the Horecky family.
The building has the most recent use of bousillage walls that he has seen, says Cazayoux. Bousillage walls, common among the buildings of Acadiana's early French settlers, were constructed from a hodgepodge of mud, moss and horse hair but are not typically seen in homes built after 1850. Cazayoux also helped restore the home's original 8-foot wrap-around porch with a sky-blue painted ceiling. According to old wives' tales, old porch ceilings were painted this color as a way of fooling wasps from identifying it as a good location for their nests.
From the time the building was moved, the entire project took nearly 10 years, done in piecemeal fashion as funding was obtained; the city received a state grant two years ago. The home is now set to take new life as a cultural museum for the town of Church Point, displaying its classic heritage of Cajun music, horse buggies, and Courir de Mardi Gras, all in the confines of a Catholic priest's quarters.
"Something like this, it was great to see completed," Cazayoux says. "I give a lot of credit to the community and the people of this town who wanted to save this building because otherwise it probably would've been torn down for materials. There's enough people that care enough about history and culture that they wanted to do something about this building ' and I think that's fantastic." ' NS
VIRGINIA PROVOSTY BESSENT
Via Matris LLC
Virginia Provosty Bessent is a Registered Landscape Architect and 1975 Graduate of LSU. She owns her own private practice with a studio in downtown Covington, La. Her firm focuses in high-end residential Garden Design in the New Orleans area, St. Francisville and the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Additional projects include exterior spaces for area schools, churches, townhouse developments and commercial office parks.
VICTOR F. TRAHAN IIIVictor F. "Trey" Trahan III, AIA, is President of Trahan Architects, a national award-winning design firm based in Baton Rouge. An accomplished designer, Trahan has been recognized by the National AIA and by the Fondazione Frate Sole in Pavia, Italy, for his designs. He has been published locally, nationally and internationally in recognition of his creative use of materials and unique designs. Trahan has served a diversified portfolio of clients and has lectured both nationally and internationally. In 2000, 2004 and 2005, the National AIA presented its honor award to Trahan for St. Jean Vianney Catholic Church, LSU Academic Center for Student Athletes and Holy Rosary Catholic Church Complex respectfully. A Crowley native, Trahan has participated in and won three international design competitions in Beijing, China.
Edward Gaskin is a project architect at Baton Rouge-based Trahan Architects. Gaskin's varied background in design includes experience teaching architecture at the university level and work with a number of successful architecture practices. He joined Trahan Architects in late 2003 following four years working with 2004 Pritzker Prize Laureate Zaha Hadid of London, where he served as assistant project architect for the Rosenthal Center of Contemporary Art. At Trahan Architects, Gaskin is in charge of projects that include a mixed-use residential development on the Arts Block in the heart of downtown Baton Rouge and Louisiana State Museum and Sports Hall of Fame on Front Street in the historical city center of Natchitoches, La. Gaskin has also been the lead designer for two international competitions in Beijing, China, both awarded first prize. Gaskin received a master of architecture degree from Harvard University Graduate School of Design and a bachelor of architecture degree with Cum Laude distinction from the University of Cincinnati College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning.
Monika Coker, ASID, graduated from MississippiCollege in 2001 and has worked as an interior designer at JBHM for the past four years. Her responsibilities at JBHM include providing interior finishes for selection, completing schedules and specifications, as well as furniture schedules and packages, space planning and interior detailing. Coker also produces architectural drawings in Revit and AutoCAD and provides construction administration in interior design. Projects include: Twin Lakes Camp and Conference Center, American Eurocopter, Southern Beverage, Bennett-Gillespie Eye Clinic, Madison Dental Clinic and Brandon Library. Monika currently serves as ASID chair of the Mississippi Association's South Central Chapter.
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