Louisiana State Museum and Sports Hall of Fame / Trahan Architects

  • 17 Sep 2013
  • Cultural Selected Works
© Tim Hursley

Architects: Trahan Architects
Location: , LA, USA
President / Design Principal: Victor F. “Trey” Trahan, III FAIA
Project Architect: Brad McWhirter AIA
Design Team: Ed Gaskin AIA, Mark Hash, Michael McCune AIA
Project Team: Sean David, Blake Fisher, Erik Herrmann, David Merlin, Benjamin Rath, Judson Terry
Area: 28000.0 sqm
Year: 2013
Photographs: Tim Hursley

Interior Designer: Lauren Bombet Interiors
Structural Engineer: LBYD
Civil Engineer: CSRS

© Tim Hursley

From the architect. The Louisiana State Museum and Sports Hall of Fame in historic Natchitoches, Louisiana merges two contrasting collections formerly housed in a university coliseum and a nineteenth century courthouse, elevating the visitor experience for both. Set in the oldest settlement in the Louisiana Purchase on the banks of the Cane River Lake, the design mediates the dialogue between sports and history, past and future, container and contained.


Our exploration focuses on three questions. How does our design explore the client brief to exhibit sports and history simultaneously? How does it respond to the historic building fabric? How does it make a connection to context?

© Tim Hursley

Our resolution is, first, to interpret athletics as a component of cultural history rather than as independent themes. While sports and regional history may appeal to different audiences, the exhibits and configuration explore interconnections between the two. The spaces flow visually and physically together, configured to accommodate state-of-the-art exhibits, education and support functions. Visitors however can experience both narratives either separately or simultaneously.

© Tim Hursley

Second, historical pastiche is set aside in favor of a design language in response to the site. The internal organization is an extension of the existing meandering urban circulation, while the design mediates the scale and character of the historic commercial core and adjacent residential neighborhood. The “simple” exterior, clad with pleated copper panels, alluding to the shutters and clapboards of nearby plantations, contrasts with and complements the curvaceous interior within. The louvered skin controls light, views and ventilation, animates the facade, and employs surface articulation previously achieved by architectural ornamentation. The flowing interior emerges at the entrance, enticing visitors to leave the walking tour and into the evocative exhibit spaces within.

© Tim Hursley

Third the design reflects the carving of the ancient river whose fluvial geomorphology inspired the dynamic interior form. The dynamic foyer is sculpted out of 1,100 cast stone panels, seamlessly integrating all systems and washed with natural light from above. The cool white stone references bousillage, the historic horse hair, earth and Spanish moss utilized by 17th Century settlers.The flowing surfaces reach into the galleries, serving as “screens” for film and display. At the climax of the upper level, the path arrives at a veranda overlooking the city square, sheltered by copper louvers, further connecting the interior to the public realm.

First Floor Plan

View this project in Google Maps

* Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address.
Cite: "Louisiana State Museum and Sports Hall of Fame / Trahan Architects" 17 Sep 2013. ArchDaily. Accessed 28 May 2015. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=428122>
  • Sophie

    Quite similar from the outside to Herzog de Meurons (http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3110/2846972158_6f30baeeea_b.jpg) In my opinion there is not well designed disparity between the outer appearance and the interior. The entrance exemplifies this in a very strong manner.

  • Dave

    one has to wonder what is the point here.

    • Kyle

      There aren’t any, at least in the interior anyways . . .

  • JG

    Yes, that is a good start Dave. Now look into it’s contextual relevance and significance in architecture / construction management. The 2012 AIA Technology in Architectural Practice BIM Award, is not easy to receive. Congrats to both teams @ Trahan and CASE

  • http://my-forex.yolasite.com Croco Dile

    Making plastic art to a building. Why not !?

  • Marius

    a great mixture of Herzog/de Meuron and Coop Himmelb(l)au

  • haircut

    I’m the first to dismiss a generic Schumacher blob but this is quite beautiful. The detailing of the “1,100 cast stone panels” is crisp and the splines are obviously more refined than most of the blob canon.

    And come on, look at that front elevation and tell me you don’t start drooling.

  • Dave

    okay, the details are quite beautiful, but that’s construction, not architecture. Context is awful, but this building aspires for more. what the reason for the gut-like space inside. sure, looks cool but WHY? what does it have to do with anything? why not? is not an answer.

    • juss

      The interior of building relates back to its site context ‘..the design reflects the carving of the ancient river whose fluvial geomorphology inspired the dynamic interior form.’ I hope thats an answer.

      • Dror Baldinger

        I hope it says is on the plaque by the front door…

    • Andy

      Dave… first of all, you are right. ‘Why not’ avoids answering your question. It, however, does start down the path I agree with. Everyone wants a reason for every move and because of this I fear architects will end up pragmatic construction engineers (not used as an insult) whom only design the most cost effective, environmental, building with the slightest dash of pizzazz to incite a feeling of uniqueness which eventually will become ubiquitous. There is in the end an inherent understanding of form, space, and beauty… and variety. It is, while not necessarily inexplicable, hard to verbalize. It seems to emanate from this project and many of your other ‘Why?’ projects. The beauty of architecture as opposed to fine art (for me) lies in the rigorous application of practicality to these intuitive forms. This building seems to be detailed amazingly and constructed with the utmost care. Asking ‘Why?’ is frustrating to me. They took an abstract emotional form… whether it’s based off a river system or not is really irrelevant (gets into where art comes from which is a new discussion)… and turned it into a seemingly functional building. That’s architecture and if you don’t like it go back to *insert appropriate decade or design motif here*.

  • Ramon

    Being an architect I would have liked some info on materials and construction of the interesting shapes shown.

  • Skate 3

    Ohh, a sports shrine. Great.

  • civilian

    that must have been an incredibe pitch made by this firm to get this through, perhaps that is what is most notable-