Lousiana Sports Hall of Fame and Regional History Museum
Text: Axel Dürheimer
Work has started this month on the new Louisiana State Sports Hall of Fame and Regional History Museum in Natchitoches. The 12 million Dollar project will house the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame with a collection of memorabilia donated by more than 250 outstanding sports figures in Louisiana.
Trahan Architects' design for the museum unites these two programs – formerly housed in trophy cases lining a coliseum concourse at Northwestern State University and on the ground floor of the Natchitoches Parish Courthouse, respectively – in a stunning 28,000-square-foot contemporary venue that highlights the collections' important cultural assets and recognizes each segment as part of the greater cultural history of the state of Louisiana. The building will also serve as a progressive space for community gatherings and events.
In turn, the site of the new museum, on the border of the city's commercial district and overlooking the lake, has inspired Trahan Architects to embrace this profound history and this historic landscape in its design. The museum's exterior is clad in sinker cypress planks – (sinker cypress comes from cypress logs that have been buried for years in the soft muddy bottoms of rivers, lakes, swamps, and bayous) – a reference to the region's rich timber legacy. The spacing and manipulation of the boards control light, views and ventilation and create a sense of porosity, articulation, and texture that will animate the façade and mediate the building's scale; these louvers are also a reference to the cladding at nearby Oakland Plantation, where wood planks were used for the purpose of mitigating the climate. The articulation of the building's façade maintains the datum line established by the wrought iron balconies that define the elevations along Front Street. In addition, on the interior, the firm derived the building's geometry from the area's distinctive geomorphology and aspects of the river's hydromorphology. The design concept was guided by the fluid shapes of the braided corridors of river channels separated by interstitial masses of land – this idea becomes the organizing principle for visitor circulation and gallery arrangement.
The focus of the interior is the atrium, which will serve as a place for special events, gatherings and general spatial orientation. Clad in light-colored cast-stone panels, the space will be washed with natural light from all sides and will present an atmosphere of calm and reflection.
According to Trey Trahan, “our design is informed by the historic architecture and materials of the region, while presenting a contemporary architectural language to this remarkable city.” The project is scheduled to be completed in March 2011.