Caribbean architecture is a natural in South Louisiana. So when George and Roxanne Graham, interviewing architects to build a house in River Ranch, met with designer Mark Owen Pritchard and both parties pulled out the same pictures of modern Caribbean houses they had photographed while independently vacationing at Alys Beach in Florida, the coincidence was more like karma. “Things clicked,” says Pritchard.
The award-winning house he designed for them, built by LaFosse Construction, is inspired by the laid-back architecture of the tropics with an edgy modernist attitude. Sidewalk impressions: An unadorned row of tall, dazzling white Spanish arches capped with a dark wooden second-story covered balcony sets the tone that will be repeated throughout the house. Dark and light. Rough and smooth. Traditional and modern. This is a house built of contrasts.
The entry is through a right side arch, straight into a shady colonnade. A dark wood ceiling punctuated with spinning fans keeps the air stirring, and cool polished white limestone under bare feet is all the climate control anyone needs. This side-porch entryway is modeled on a classic design particular to South Carolina, dubbed the Charleston Single House. It’s a great interface between the street, the Great Room and a very private patio. And it’s the place George and Roxanne choose most often for entertaining guests.
George Graham is famous for his elaborate cooking. The porch houses an outdoor kitchen that has grilled hundreds of his award-winning Bluesiana Burgers. Guests lounge on the breezy porch, listening to the tropical music of clacking palm fronds. The play of water in a fountain is so well designed by landscaper Kevin Kimball that Roxanne doubles its use as a plunge pool when she comes home, hot, from playing tennis.
Arches, this time framing glass and dark wood doors that fling wide open, separate the tropical outdoors from the serene interior. White on white — couches, rugs and stucco walls create a meditative zone — Zen meets Far Tortuga. Roxanne chose the quiet lamps and limited the amount of art to keep the room calm and casual. The other end of the Great Room belongs to George. A kitchen built for real cooking fronts a hidden prep area that could handle restaurant traffic. It’s where George plays, building on themes like all-Asian (his latest flavor) inspired dinners.
Pritchard’s touch is very subtle. The substantial plaster stair railings begin with a modern sculptural post, spare and elegant. The stairs lead to the master bedroom, where a simple iron canopy bed hung with white mosquito netting rests beneath a dark wood, pyramid ceiling. The hot air rises, the ceiling fan spins, the third eye closes, the Grahams sleep in a temple of peaceful dreams.
MAKE ROOM FOR BABY
When Lafayette General Medical Center decided to perform major cosmetic surgery on itself and to consolidate its maternity services, it chose Architects Beazley Moliere for a tricky task: The Oil Center campus is boxed in by surrounding development. The project involved both renovating and expanding the existing lobby as well as creating the Pavilion for women and children.
When Beazley Moliere’s design team — Charles Beazley, Larry Guidry, Keith LeJeune and Marie Lukaszeski — was finished, the expansion and addition would comprise 36,000 square feet in front and on top of the existing hospital. More than 41,000 square feet of existing hospital space was also renovated. The Lemoine Company served as general contractor; for its work on the Pavilion, Architects Beazley Moliere this year receives Gold awards for both architecture and interior design.
The firm’s team designed a thin bar of new building along the entire front of the existing LGMC that faces Coolidge Boulevard, creating a new face for the hospital. The addition houses the new lobby, reconfigures the admissions area and intercepts the elevated walkway between LGMC and the Burden Riehl Medical Office Building and parking tower, giving LGMC an entirely new and modern appearance at the ground level. The addition and its link with the parking garage across Coolidge Boulevard also allows hospital visitors to enter from the parking tower without having to walk through a patient wing on the third floor. The clean glass, metal and masonry design of the addition compliments the elevated walkway and provides a great first impression for LGMC patients and visitors. In fact, LGMC’s new face and the walkway appear to have been built simultaneously, although the walkway has been in place for roughly a decade.
“For me the most rewarding part of it,” recalls Charles Beazley, “was the amount of order we were able to introduce into a chaotic space. If you walk in the lobby before and the lobby now, it’s Dark Ages to 21st century.”
But Beazley Moliere wasn’t finished. Then it was on to an update and redesign of the second-floor maternity department. This included both a renovation of the existing space and an expansion, consolidating the hospital’s services for new moms and their babies.
Building on the maternity services already offered by LGMC, the Pavilion includes renovated and expanded labor and delivery rooms, 24 new post-partum suites along with new nursery facilities. The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit was also renovated and three new operating rooms dedicated to women’s health were added as well. The project earned the highest grade of five in all six criteria, giving it a perfect score of 30.
Beazley Moliere also grabbed the golden caliper for interior design with Lafayette General Medical Center’s expansion and Pavilion. Led by director of interior design Marie O. Lukaszeski, the firm created a cool, clean ultra-modern lobby glistening with tile, polished stone, glass and metal.
As Lukaszeski explains in the concept statement, design and material choices for such a space are critical due its function as a health care facility. The requirements for such facilities are stringent. The health, welfare and safety of patients, staff and the public must be factored into the design and to some extent governs the choice of building materials on the interior.
The two-story main lobby incorporates sheer walls, wide expanses of tile, and makes abundant use of glass for natural lighting. The contrast between the old maternity ward lobby and the Pavilion lobby is also stark. Crisp lines, ample space and natural light make the Pavilion lobby a comfortable, welcoming space for patients and visitors alike.
UPDATING A HISTORIC GEM
Adaptive re-use may be the most underrated category of architecture and design. Incorporating fresh ideas into existing buildings without overwhelming the original structure’s personality is no mean feat, and Acadiana is dotted with classic 20th-century architecture waiting for new life.
One such structure is now home to AudioScribe, an Acadiana company that specializes in voice-translation software. AudioScribe’s office is located in a quaint brick building on Bridge Street in historic downtown Breaux Bridge. The building, according to company officials, was built in 1901 and served as a post office and the first bank in Breaux Bridge, among other things. To convert the building into a modern office without compromising its charm, AudioScribe turned to Angelle Architects and Ochmand Construction. Interior designer Michelle Thibodeaux came up with a plan that celebrates the structure’s original building materials and maintains its historic persona. The two-story floor plan includes open office spaces, a conference room, two private offices, as well as general shared office space and a break area.
The adaptation also included moving the front door to its original corner location and reconfiguring the windows into a more historically sensitive arrangement. The interior makes tasteful use of such materials as bare cypress, glass, and stamped metal tiles that originally covered the ceiling. “A cooperation of our design team, a skilled contractor as well as an enthusiastic client all helped to provide an appealing space, within budget and in a timely manner,” says Thibodeaux.
The interior of the building’s brick shell was cleaned and left largely exposed while electrical and networking wires were covered along the base of a wainscoting constructed from the stamped metal tiles. The building’s original wood structure was also left exposed. A staircase was replaced to bring the building up to code, and a dumbwaiter was added to allow staff to transport equipment between floors without hauling it up the stairs. In effect, the amenities of a modern office are folded seamlessly into the century-old details of the building, updating the structure while maintaining its clarity. As Thibodeaux puts it in the concept statement: “The real story of the building is the manner in which the architecture and the interior work together.”
THE GREAT OUTDOORS
To look at Bryan and Michelle Hanks’ outdoor living space today, you would have never guessed that just a couple of years ago it was just a plain and simple backyard with no amenities. Frequent travelers to Italy, they longed for a sanctuary at their own home that would mimic the ambiance of Europe while at the same time reflecting their personal tastes. Since the interior of the house has a very European feel, there was also a need to make the transition from indoor to outdoor aesthetically cohesive.
Enter Swags & Tassels Interiors’ dynamic duo, project design coordinator Brittany Camel Daly and designer Larayn Ainsworth Guidroz. Having a nearly blank canvas to work with gave the team limitless possibilities to its creativity, and with the aid of contractor Mike Bellard of BellTech Group, the vast project got under way with the installation of a pool, pool house, outdoor kitchen and living area.
The real luxury of this space is not to be found in the large additions, however, but in the minute details, as the customizing of many of the features gives the outdoor area a unique beauty that could only come from the most skillful specialists. A stainless steel clamshell water fountain adorns the pool area and is attached to iridescent glass tiles that enhance and reflect the pool and landscaping. The decorative gates are reminiscent of an Italian courtyard and made of aluminum with a bronze powder coat. They were designed by the Hanks themselves before being professionally hand made. Even the luxurious granite slabs that surround the pool were specially honed for a skid resistant surface.
Customization definitely made the space spectacular, but it also caused challenges time wise, as the project took two years. “When you are working with so many customized features, it takes time to coordinate them all because you are getting things from so many sources,” says Guidroz. “Instant gratification is not always the best route; if you really invest the time to make sure everything coordinates perfectly you will reap a much greater reward in the end.” Michelle Hanks agrees: “It took a little longer due to the complexity, but it definitely has been well worth it.”
The area is not only beautiful but functional for entertaining as well. The outdoor living room boasts a fireplace and a plasma TV. Draperies surround the open area and can be used to close it off from the elements, and an air conditioner and heater make it suitable for year-round use. The outdoor kitchen has Viking appliances and a large granite counter top surrounded by bar stools. A temperature-controlled wine cabinet is one of the main features of the pool house, along with sumptuous leather furniture and another fireplace and television.
Though it may have taken a little longer than expected, in the end the Hanks got the backyard retreat that they were dreaming of. “Larayne and Brittany have made it very warm and peaceful,” says Michelle. “You can walk into the back area and feel like you are somewhere else — totally relaxed and tranquil.” — Maria Capritto
EVERYTHING OLD IS NEW AGAIN
In the small town of Iota, life is a little simpler. So when Jerry Fischer commissioned emerymcclure architecture to remodel his 100-year-old bungalow, it was imperative for the house to stay true to the roots of the rural town. Mike McClure, who designed the house along with Ursula Emery McClure and Timmie Dumatrait, knew how important it was to consider the setting, due to the fact that the house has “a very public face in the town” as well as a “large street presence.” With help from Construction Associates Inc. of St. Martinville, they were able to renovate this old home into a modern version in and of itself without compromising the antiquity of the structure.
The house belonged to Fischer’s grandparents and is a family heirloom, so it is understandable that he would want to keep the essence of the house intact. However, he wanted to expand the home by turning it from a two-bedroom, one-bathroom home with an office into a three-bedroom, two-bathroom home with a bed and bath combination. He also wanted to better incorporate the corner lot with the house and add a carport, central heating and air, and landscaping.
The first solution came in the form of a modern day “outhouse,” inspired by the fact that Fischer remembers there were actual outhouses that used to be on the property when his grandparents owned it. But this outhouse is not anything like the little outdoor wooden stalls of yesteryear. It is a state-of-the-art bathroom that juts off the master bedroom, connected by an enclosed bridge.
The carport was made to mimic the lines of the house and make use of the corner lot. It uses brick pillars mirroring those on the existing house and a similar roof. To make the carport become part of the house instead of a freestanding structure, a wrap around porch was built that extends from the carport to the outhouse, harmonizing the two additions. The porch is fully screened in at both ends, but was left open in the middle for versatility. These external structures enhance the features of the house without hiding it, while adding the extra space and amenities the owner wanted.
The end result is the perfect marriage of nostalgia and modernization. “The goal was to bring the small humble house to modern times,” says McClure, “while still being respectful to the past.” — Maria Carpritto
SHELTER FROM THE STORM
| UL professor Hector LaSala
|Photo by Robin May|
In the Fall of 2003, Acadiana Outreach Director Valerie Keller requested the help of the UL Lafayette School of Architecture & Design to come up with a storage system to aid in organizing donations. However, as a result of several visits to the site — a city block full of sprawled and disconnected structures — the students and faculty observed a terrible contradiction: While the center’s mission is “Giving People Back Their God-Given Dignity,” the physical environment was oppressive.
For the past year, UL professor of architecture and avant-Renaissance man Hector LaSala and his team of students, with the aid of The Lemoine Co. and numerous volunteers, have been working diligently to improve the environs of the Acadiana Outreach Center. The center provides families in poverty with services including emergency and transitional shelter, skills training, housing and employment programs, and licensed addiction and mental health treatment. “We want to restore shattered lives,” says LaSala. “But whatever you do, don’t call it a homeless shelter.”
Like some patron saint of the browbeaten, blessed with an abnormally profound sympathy for the downtrodden, LaSala successfully navigated through the “Me-First/You-Later” socio-political climate that tends to impede these projects and completed a strikingly impressive renovation to what was formerly The Well and now home to Acadiana Outreach.
“We felt the old physical environment and facilities were depressing, coarse, and spiritually degrading,” says LaSala.
LaSala kept it low to the ground and worked with inexpensive materials to create an inspiring work and healing environment. Improvements to the facility include the complete renovation of a warehouse that now houses a reception desk, offices, showers, bathrooms, and the inspiring centerpiece waiting bench/artwork screen made by UL freshman design students.
The center piece and high-water mark of the project is the student collage divider. Searing art and utility onto the jagged palette of reality, the students constructed inspirational collages that serve as a collective bench-partition, dividing the bathrooms/laundry area of the facility from the offices and receptionist desk. This dividing screen serves a multiple purpose: privacy to those bathing and grooming, and as a sanctuary space that creates the opportunity for clients and staff members to make meaningful contact with one another, often leading to the transformed life of an addict.
“Design has the power to actually change lives,” says LaSala. “I think this project is emblematic of what design and good will can do, namely, to help solve serious problems in the community. These are problems that can be addressed in a dignified way. I think that the Outreach Center is an example of how to do it right.”
|Photo by Philip Gould|
This isn’t your typical drab industrial warehouse building. Knight Oil Tools set a new standard for local oil field service companies three years ago when it enlisted architect Don Breaux and built its captivating new company headquarters along Highway 90 — a project that also won an INDesign Gold Award. Featuring sleek steel panels and sweeping, curved blue-tinted windows, the design came off as both contemporary and refined without being overly ostentatious.
When Knight Fishing decided to expand with an adjacent warehouse and additional office space, it once again teamed up with Breaux to build on that initial success. “The idea was to complement the company’s main building, but not overpower it,” Breaux says. “We wanted it to have the same feel, like a campus.” Several of the main building’s features are evident here: the linear windows and curved head-end. Breaux also employed new elements including laminate beams and wood decking. Rudick Company Inc. served as the project’s general contractor.
UL architecture professor and INDesign Awards judge Geoff Gjertson writes: “Once again, Breaux maximizes the potential for a project in which others may have simply proposed a pre-engineered metal building. The building is both modest and elegant — a fusing of the industrial aesthetic of the warehouse and the high-tech corporate detailing of the headquarters.”
A NIGHT AT THE OPERA
The Grand Opera House of the South was originally built in 1900 by a young architect in his twenties at a cost of approximately $18,000. More than a century later, its renovation was a bit more expensive and its architect a bit older, but the end result has been just as stunning.
For 66 years, the building was known as Crowley’s Dixie Hardware, the place to register for fine china and pick up items like nails and screwdrivers. The auditorium and ballroom on the second and third floors of the building were largely forgotten. When L.J. and Carol “Chee Chee” Gielen purchased the building in 1999, they embarked on the long, arduous task of breathing new life into the old opera house. The theater had greatly deteriorated over the last seven decades, with extensive water infiltration and foundational damage. Architect Don Breaux worked on and off on the project for the past six years, through ongoing fundraising efforts and expanding and contracting plans. In the end, both owner and architect agreed that the best course of action was to restore the ballroom and theater as close to their original forms as possible. Breaux worked closely with designers Shari Dronet and Kenneth Bedenbaugh on maintaining the building’s early 20th century feel. L.K. Breaux and E.L. Habetz Builders Inc. were the contractors for the project.
The Grand reopened Sept. 26, 2008 with New Orleans soul queen Irma Thomas singing to a sold-out house. The building has received rave reviews and helped to revitalize and reestablish Crowley’s historic downtown. The project recently was named one of the winners of the American Institute of Architects 2009 Gulf States Honor Awards and will be honored this weekend at the AIA’s national convention in San Francisco. For his part, Breaux says that being a part of a special project like this was an honor (only about 3 percent of the nation’s turn-of-the-century opera houses are still in existence). “We were very fortunate,” Breaux says. “Not many people get that opportunity.” Breaux credits his clients, the Grand Opera House of the South nonprofit and the Gielens, for having the vision and determination to see the restoration through.
2009 INDESIGN WINNERS
Knight Fishing Services
Architectural firm: Donald Breaux
General contractor: Rudick Inc.
Architectural firm: Architects Beazley Moliere
General contractor: The Lemoine Co.
Lafayette Parish Public Library
Architectural firm: The Sellers Group
General contractor: J.B. Mouton
Architectural firm: Abell+Crozier Architects
General contractor: Core Construction
Architectural firm: David Courville
General contractor: Greg Walls Building + Design
Fatima Parish Hall
Architectural firm: Sidney Bourgeois
General contractor: BEO Contractors
Cox Communications Building
Architectural firm: Chenevert Architects
General contractor: The Lemoine Co.
Architectural firm: Pécot and Company Architects
General contractor: Core Construction
Dr. Natalie Brasseaux, dental office building
Architectural firm: NMF Architecture
General contractor: Paul Billeaud
Recovery Action Center
Architectural firm: Hector LaSala
General contractor: The Lemoine Co.
Architectural firm: L7 Architects
General contractor: Janus Contractors
Architectural firm: Angelle Architects
General contractor: Ochmand Construction
Grand Opera House (Crowley)
Architectural firm: Donald Breaux
General contractor: L.K. Breaux and E.L. Habetz Builders
Architectural/design firm: Mark Owen Pritchard
Builder: LaFosse Construction
The Iota House
Architectural/design firm: emerymcclure architecture
Builder: Construction Associates Inc.
Brad and Kathy Broussard Residence
Architectural/design firm: L7 Architects
Architectural/design firm: John Maak
Builder: Braniff Construction
Architectural firm: Architects Beazley Moliere-Marie Olivier Lukaszeski
Business First Bank
Architectural firm: L7 Architects-Dione Bourgeois Sonnier
INTERIOR DESIGN-ADAPTIVE REUSE
Architectural firm: Angelle Architects-Michelle Thibodeaux
Hanks outdoor living
Swags & Tassels-Larayne Ainsworth Guidroz
Master bath renovation
Tout Le Monde Interiors-Lissa Schmidt
The winners will be honored at the 2009 Smart Growth Lecture and INDesign Awards Luncheon Thursday, April 30, at the City Club at River Ranch.
The keynote speaker is Charleston, S.C., Mayor Joseph P. Riley.
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