Louisiana State Museum and Sports Hall
of Fame by Trahan Architects

| 29 comments
 

New Orleans firm Trahan Architects used over a thousand cast stone panels to create the undulating interior of this museum in Natchitoches, Louisiana (+ slideshow).

Louisiana State Museum by Trahan Architects | architecture | dezeen

The Louisiana State Museum and Sports Hall of Fame brings together two previously independent collections to create a combined exhibition for regional history and sport in the centre of the city.

Louisiana State Museum by Trahan Architects | architecture | dezeen

Rather than separating the exhibitions over two distinct floors, Trahan Architects designed a series of curving structural volumes that allow the three galleries to gently flow into one another.

Louisiana State Museum by Trahan Architects | architecture | dezeen

"While sports and regional history may appeal to different audiences, the exhibits and configuration explore interconnections between the two," explained the architects.

Louisiana State Museum by Trahan Architects | architecture | dezeen

"The spaces flow visually and physically together, configured to accommodate state-of-the-art exhibits, education and support functions," they added.

Louisiana State Museum by Trahan Architects | architecture | dezeen

Using the fluid geometries of the nearby Cane River as a guide, the architects centred the spaces around a generous foyer that curves through the heart of the building, dividing two galleries on the lower level and leading to a third above.

Louisiana State Museum by Trahan Architects | architecture | dezeen

The white stone surfaces can be used as screens for film projection, plus there's also a first-floor balcony overlooking the city square.

Louisiana State Museum by Trahan Architects | architecture | dezeen

The museum's exterior envelope is a simple rectilinear volume, clad on all sides by pleated copper panels that form louvres.

Louisiana State Museum by Trahan Architects | architecture | dezeen

"The louvred skin controls light, views and ventilation, animates the facade and employs surface articulation previously achieved by architectural ornamentation," said the architects.

Louisiana State Museum by Trahan Architects | architecture | dezeen

The building was recently nominated for awards at both the World Architecture Festival and the Inside Festival, which took place in Singapore earlier this month.

Louisiana State Museum by Trahan Architects | architecture | dezeen

Photography is by Tim Hursley.

Here's a project description from Trahan Architects:


Louisiana State Museum and Sports Hall of Fame

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.

Louisiana State Museum by Trahan Architects | architecture | dezeen

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?

Louisiana State Museum by Trahan Architects | architecture | dezeen
Ground floor plan - click for larger image

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.

Louisiana State Museum by Trahan Architects | architecture | dezeen
First floor plan - click for larger image

Second, historical pastiche is set aside in favour of a design language in response to the site. The internal organisation 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 neighbourhood. 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 louvred 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.

Louisiana State Museum by Trahan Architects | architecture | dezeen
Long section - click for larger image

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 utilised 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 louvres, further connecting the interior to the public realm.

Louisiana State Museum by Trahan Architects | architecture | dezeen
Detailed section - click for larger image
  • Dr Jones

    I generally like this project, and think that the cast stone is really beautiful, much better than powder-coated aluminum panels, for example. But is anyone else bothered by the staggered joint lines? It somehow makes the geometry feel less fluid (in reference to the “fluvial geomorphology”) and appears more like scales or armour. Was this intentional? If not, what is the post-rationalisation?

    I would love to understand if there was some technical issue, such as joint tolerances or fixing bracket dimensions, that resulted in this approach.

    • Greg

      I think the jointing adds a human element to it.
      If it were all perfectly aligned it might appear more sterile?

      Also fluvial patterns aren’t regular so it may be intentional? I would be interested to know also. It’s a beautiful design with immaculate construction, I just want to run my hands along those curves!

  • Reminisce

    I feel sorry for the contractors in charge of building this. Bravo.

    • christine

      Why? They are probably very proud of their work!

      • Reminisce

        Well, it’s just so terribly complicated and organic. Compared to sheet and stud, you’ve got a puzzle on your hands!

        I mean to applaud them, amazing work..

    • henry

      They actually went bankrupt after this project. Trahan/CASE were the only parties that truly profited I believe.

  • CadBaboon

    This is the first parametric building I’ve seen that makes total sense. The swish swoopery needs an orthogonal counterpoint. These boys nailed it. Zaha, take note.

    • El Jiji

      I don’t know if this is, technically speaking, a parametric building. Is it not just sculptural?

      • CadBaboon

        An excellent point El Jiji. What is a parametric building? I suppose I was referring to the style, rather than how the form was generated. One thing is for sure, it is sculptural. However, is all great architecture, technically speaking, not sculptural irrespective of form? In the words of Frank Lloyd Wright “Who f**kin’ knows”

  • http://individual.cl/ aeon_lancer

    It should be quite relaxing to be inside in such white amorphous space. Is like a Vincent Van Gogh painting, or perhaps The Scream of Edvard Munch.

  • kdla

    I think staggering the joint lines is an okay decision. If you let them flow maybe it looks too much like a nurbs surface made real (I mean, okay, that’s what it is…) but then you are focusing on the joint lines instead of the whole form itself.

    Anyways this project to me is incredibly well done. Both the interior and exterior skins are very interesting. I’ve seen some closer photos of this project already that expose some of the panels not quite aligning properly but in general to build something like this in the typically architecturally unprogressive south is an achievement to be celebrated.

    My only question is where are the exhibits?! I would be afraid that without equal care taken on the exhibit and graphics side this beautiful sculpture will lose so much when it is actually being used for its real purpose.

  • Steeevyo

    Interior stolen from Zaha, exterior stolen from Herzog de Meuron. The end product is quite nice though.

    • Bob

      Has Zaha patented curved surfaces? Nothing is ‘stolen’ here.

      • carpr25

        Are you kidding? Have you seen the Herzog de Meuron project for Swiss rail stations? They even use the same material!

    • carpr25

      I totally agree.

    • SateenM

      I’m always amazed how everyone jumps on a project which is as fantastic as this one and tries to take it apart. Do you really think someone like Trahan Architects, Zaha, Herzog or anyone working in the western hemisphere would spend years to copy someone else’s building? Organic surfaces are not invented by anyone, they come from nature.

      • Labirinto

        Cut and paste project. You obviously haven’t seen the Herzog de Meuron project for the Swiss Rail. I thought exactly the same before reading the comment. Interior = Zaha, exterior = H&M . It’s so literal that it’s almost acceptable. Although completely unoriginal of course.

      • Steeevyo

        I can only repeat myself that I like the end result.

        But seriously, if on your facade you seamlessly fold vertical copper strips into horizontal louvers then you stole it from one of the most iconic early HdM projects in Basel. The rest is just semantics.

      • Jordan Gracia

        Interesting discussion. Richard Dawkins talked about the notion of groupers and makers in evolutionary science. When a new skull, or whatever, is discovered there are those who claim it falls into a preexisting category and then there are those who want to make a new genealogical line for the discovery. Groupers and makers everywhere.

  • Francesco Mottini

    What kind of stones is used in this curved wall?
    I’d like to see some detail or photos when they mount them.

    • Soupdragon

      It’s cast stone. Take a pile of stones, crush them up into a powder, then glue it all back together in the shape you want. Basically a variety of pre-cast concrete.

      Nice work, but it’s a shame they haven’t published photos with the displays installed, especially as they make a big deal about the design responding to the brief, that’s the only way architecture can be judged.

      I copied a 90 degree wall angle the other day, turns out lots of people have done that through the years.

  • seb

    There’s not a single mention of the word ‘cost’. There’s money in sports I guess, enough to cover a new neighbourhood reconstruction after a hurricane.

  • Leo A.

    Wow! Architecture on LSD!

  • M

    It cost $12 million, which is the norm for this type of building, even if it utilised simpler typologies.

    Beautiful. Happy to see a project like this in the LA Hinterland.

  • Was on the project

    Not true at all.

  • Dave S.

    In case anyone is interested in the detailing work for the cast stone: http://www.grasshopper3d.com/profiles/blogs/louisiana-state-museum-and-sports-hall-of-fame

  • Gary Walmsley

    Love the contours of the interior, but I hate the intrusive built-in light fixtures! They distract and compete with the rest of the space.