Cover Story

Intelligent Design

The winners of this year's INDesign Awards share a passion for excellence in their craft.
By The Independent Staff

It's time again to honor the brightest and best among Acadiana's considerable constellation of architects, interior designers and the array of professionals who support their creative efforts to make our offices like homes and our homes like heaven, and who ensure that our unique architectural history is both preserved and celebrated even as it evolves.

The winners of this year's INDesign Awards share a passion for excellence in their craft.
By The Independent Staff

It's time again to honor the brightest and best among Acadiana's considerable constellation of architects, interior designers and the array of professionals who support their creative efforts to make our offices like homes and our homes like heaven, and who ensure that our unique architectural history is both preserved and celebrated even as it evolves.

The 2012 INDesign Awards raise a glass to an eclectic assortment of projects that share the most important aspect of award-winning design: excellence in form and function. From the jaw-dropping make-over of Lafayette General Medical Center, the ingenious layout and use of transitions for Manuel Builders' new design center, the faithful-to-history restoration of Chrétien Point or the eco-friendly brilliance of the St. Landry Parish Tourist Center, the winners of this year's awards - Gold, Silver, Bronze and Honorable Mention - raise the bar for creativity and passion among some of the coolest entrepreneurs and artists in this very Cool Town.

Pucheu Master Bath
Residential Interior Design - Gold
Interior Designer: Charles Seale

The mission: Transform a small, "awkward" bathroom and adjacent storage space into a luxurious spa-like master bath. Charles Seale's work on John and Dr. Rhonda Pucheu's master bathroom at their Eunice home has landed Seale with another Gold INDesign Award for residential interior design, marking consecutive years of Gold-level wins for the Eunice interior designer.

Seale's design was chosen for his art deco inspiration, which he took from the home's art deco architectural stylings dating back to the 1930s.

Art deco incorporates geometric shapes with modern elegance and practicality, as seen by the black granite floor he selected to contrast the pewter tub he installed, also adding "a sense of luxury" to the concept.

Included in the Pucheus' bathroom work orders were two vanities, a large tub with a separate shower, a sit-down vanity with mirrored wings (one that resembles her mother's dressing table), a separate room for the toilet and a walk-in closet with ample storage space.

The window shades, which consist of sheer and opaque stripes, serve a two-fold purpose: "When the stripes are aligned the room has privacy, but when they are alternated the desired light comes into the room," Seale explains.

One challenge for Seale was carving a space for the bathroom out of the two already existing rooms, which Seales says were "built by a person who owned a brick company in Eunice, so the walls are solid brick, 18 inches thick."

"The space planning was dictated by the existing openings," Seale says.

To add to the spa feel, Seale chose an "opalescent mosaic" tile to cover the baseboards and accent the shower, also adding backlighting to the large vanity plaques to coincide with the art deco theme of the bathroom.

Lafayette General Medical Center
Commercial Architecture - Gold
Architectural Firm: WHLC Architecture

Imagine the overwhelming task: a nearly 50-year-old hospital last renovated in 1983 asks to be transformed into a modern facility capable of delivering 21st century health care. But it's not going to be torn down, so it has to be business as usual - which means very sick people being cared for 24-7 - while construction takes place. That was the challenge for WHLC Architecture of Baton Rouge and contractor Lemoine Company of Lafayette.

One wing at a time, the project - a $70 million renovation of a 10-story acute-care hospital - took flight. Originally constructed in the early 1960s, the hospital did not even have bathing facilities in all of its rooms, which were small, had single-pane windows with aluminum frames and suffered from a very loud HVAC system.

As one might imagine, demolition and construction had to be carefully phased in to minimize noise and disturbance to patients and staff, while Lemoine Company erected dust partitions separating each construction phase from patient care areas. Throughout construction, air quality was continually monitored.

The architects and builders were able to keep the existing steel and concrete from the original structure. "Fortunately, the original hospital was constructed with deep concrete overhangs across the entire length of the three wings of the patient tower," says Rick Lipscomb, a principal in WHLC Architecture. "After extensive structural analysis, it was determined that these overhangs would indeed support a floor load. We designed a plan to demolish the existing exterior wall and locate a new curtain wall system at the end of the overhangs." By doing this, 3.5 feet of depth was added to every patient room, expanding each by about 54 square feet.

But that steel and concrete are the only remnants of the old LGMC. The hospital today, which wins an INDesign Gold Award for Commercial Architecture, in no way resembles its former self. The building has been expanded on all sides, and all plumbing, electrical, mechanical and finishes are new. The well-lit, redesigned rooms have bathrooms with showers.
After generating computer models and fly-overs, the decision was made to paint the brick on what is now a building that welcomes an abundance of natural light. That freshening was a final step in a total redefinition of this Oil Center icon.

"The project was truly a team effort between the architects, contractor and hospital staff," says Lipscomb. "We worked together from very early in the design process to determine just how the project could be constructed while keeping as many beds as possible in service. We thought at first that the best method would be to simply renovate one floor at a time."
But when Cecil Zachary of the Lemoine Company developed a spreadsheet charting patient occupancy through the construction, it became clear that renovating wing by wing would save both time and money, Lipscomb says. "Actually there were 30 separate renovation phases - each carefully scheduled."

Lemoine erected the new curtain wall first, keeping the building water tight, and later demolished the old exterior wall and windows at the same time as the interior walls.

Carrie Templeton and Marie Lukasezki shared responsibilities as project managers for LGMC, with Lukasezki doing double duty as interior designer (and winning an INDesign Silver for her work). "They coordinated each of the 30 phases for the hospital, relocating patients, rerouting visitors and moving furniture.  They promoted the renovation with the staff and kept everyone aware of the construction progress," Lipscomb says. They were advocates for patients and staff, making sure there was no impact on the delivery of hospital services."

The $70 million price tag on the renovation, which brings the medical center to 496,000-square-feet, was a fraction of the estimated $400 million cost of building a new facility.

"A great project starts with a great client. David Callecod, Patrick Gandy and the board of directors of Lafayette General backed this project all the way. It was really a very courageous project to undertake. We literally took their patient tower apart and put it back together," Lipscomb says. "I really think the patient rooms are great, very open with great views, but I guess I'm most proud of the transformation of hospital image and its impact to the Oil Center. People have asked me if it's a new hospital."

Buchanan Lofts
Historic Preservation/Restoration - Gold
Architectural Firm: Poche Prouet and Associates
Designer: Jim Sullivan, Louisiana Architect Bureau

To take what was "basically a shell" of an old downtown warehouse and turn it into a wholly unique set of units for leasing was a herculean task for Jim Sullivan, an architecture professor at LSU, and Buchanan Lofts owner Leah Simon. But after years of collaboration between the two and what Sullivan calls a "strong vision" from Simon, Buchanan Lofts has emerged as an architectural Gold Award winner of this year's INDesign Awards for historic preservation.

"At the time of its renovation, the building had almost no services, limited windows, no stairs and a defunct freight elevator," Sullivan recalls. "We had to redo the entire building, all new utilities, dividing the first floor, laying out the upstairs. We designed each unit. It definitely took some time."

The end product equals nine luxurious lofts available downtown for weekend rentals and short-term leases, a much-needed addition to downtown and a great use of space that would have otherwise sat empty for likely many more years to come.

As shown by the before and after photos, the project included replacing small, awkward exterior windows with larger windows that fit with the project's design.

All but one of the nine lofts have an additional mezzanine sleeping area, and all of the mezzanine lofts come equipped with a full bath, kitchen and sitting area.

The grand entry stairway, one of the key aspects to the project, is a four-run stair, Sullivan explains. "It is the main [entrance] to the loft units and as a means-of-egress," he says. "The stair ascends in a way that allows views up to the stair's skylights and down to the lower part of the stair and lobby area."

Byron residence
Residential Interior Design - Gold
Designer: Jeffery McCullough

For home designers there are jobs that pay the bills and there are dream jobs. The Byron residence on Worth Avenue in River Ranch was both for Jeffery McCullough. But it was the dream job aspect that still has McCullough gushing.

"It was absolutely a dream project," he says. "I'm actually working on several right now that I'd like to throw in the trash can."

A Georgia native who splits his time between Atlanta, Lafayette and New York City, McCullough says he and client Kent Byron clicked on many levels. But it was the trust Byron placed in McCullough along with the freedom to execute his design vision that made the project so satisfying.

"He allowed me to buy for his house wherever I was in the world during the year I worked on his project," McCullough recalls. "So, there are things in his house from Madrid, Barcelona, New York, Atlanta, Miami, Cape Cod, Houston, Savannah, L.A. And that's what was so amazing about it: Wherever I was during that year, if I saw something that I felt was right for his project I would send him a photo with all of the information and I would get back a yes or a no, basically within the next five hours."

Originally designed by architect Ricky Albert with interior design by Mari McCarron and landscape design by Ted Viator, the house was about a decade old when Byron contacted McCullough about giving it a revamp. Byron had traveled extensively in the intervening decade and wanted to bring that world into his Tuscan-style home.

A graduate of Georgia Southern University Interior Design School, McCullough has also made a name for himself in Lafayette as an art curator and artist representative. He has chaired The Big Easel in River Ranch since 2009. (The next Big Easel is May 5 in River Ranch's Town Square.)
McCullough worked with existing furnishings and décor on the first floor, adding to it and subtracting from it with replacement pieces. He had carte blanche upstairs.

"I'm a very decisive person and I like clients who are very decisive," McCullough adds. "[Byron] didn't have time to wait on tons of meetings and going over stuff over and over and over again, which some clients just seem to need. He wanted me to present him the things I thought were right and he would say yes or no. And I am fine with no [but] maybe doesn't work for me - it tells me nothing."

That decisiveness and trust - not to mention McCullough's interior-design chops - resulted in a home that is stylish, sophisticated and lazily comfortable at the same time. It is at once uniform yet eclectic. And worthy of an INDesign Gold Award for Residential Interior Design.

Above all, McCullough says, having a client who gave him wide latitude made the project special. "He didn't want me to hold his hand on this project," he says. "He just wanted his house to look fabulous at the end of the day."

Manuel Builders design center/office
Commercial Interior Design - Gold
Architect: Kevin Stewart

Kevin Stewart epitomizes Lafayette's burgeoning Cool Town status. Born and raised in the Hub City, Stewart obtained bachelor's and master's degrees in architecture from his hometown university. What he didn't do next is pretty cool: leave. Instead, Stewart chose to make Lafayette home, to contribute to the culture and lifestyle. And to the homes we live in.

"I really saw some opportunities to bring some good design to Louisiana," he says.
Something else Stewart brought to Lafayette, the something that earned him an INDesign Gold Award in Commercial Interior Design, is evidently a first for home-building companies in town, although one marvels that it took this long. A staff architect for Manuel Builders, Stewart was called on to design the company's design center and office spaces on Pinhook Road. What the young architect, who has been on the Manuel staff since 2007 after a two-year internship at Abell + Crozier, envisioned was a one-stop-shop for the company's clients - not just your typical showroom with materials samples on the walls but rather an immersive environment that would allow clients to envision their planned home's many details, from brick, siding and shingles to countertops, plumbing and cabinets.

"We really felt this would bring the best of both worlds. We can walk people through our product that's on the ground, but also have one central space to bring everyone through," Stewart says. "It's really kind of a dynamic thing."

The new office/design center on Pinhook Road replaced the company's previous location on Verot School Road near Ambassador - a traditional office that Stewart characterizes as "nothing special." The design center in the old office, he says, was "crammed in our sales staff office" and "basically looked like a conference room with stuff on the walls."

The new design center is warm and inviting, despite being adapted into a metal building. But Stewart celebrated the building's genealogy by leaving intact the bare concrete floors and open metal deck ceiling. It's the architect's creative use of space within the space - rooms within the larger room created not by walls but through ceiling transitions and a careful use of lighting - that is award-worthy. The form perfectly serves the function, giving the client a sense of moving through rooms in a house, each of which is fitted with custom-designed millwork for displaying the many materials choices available.

"We were always looking for how to become better," Stewart says of the 47-year-old company. "This was one way we thought we could do that."

Collier residence
Residential Interior Design - Gold
Designer: Annette Christian

Bringing the indoors outdoors was the job for Annette Christian at the home of William and Nicole Collier.

"The owner loves to be outside, but he wanted the comfort of the inside while still being on the outside," says Christian. "And he wanted the elegance of it, too. It feels like a living room outside, basically," she says.

The main idea is to have the comforts of a living room brought outside, including a recessed television above the stone fireplace, the sound system and the overall flow of the room.  
"What I did was I initially looked at their formal dining room inside the house," says Christian. "And I said, OK, I'm going to take this room and put it out here."

Sans a couple of walls, of course, but with the triple-crown molding that seems to flow effortlessly from inside the house to the other outside. Even so, it wasn't an easy task.

"It was a really complicated project, says Christian, who had to remove a wooden deck before starting. "The house is one level, then you go down two steps to the patio level, then you go down another two steps to the pool area."

And then there were the rooflines to consider.

"I had two different roofs off of the back of the house. In order for the ceiling not to look too low from inside he house, I had to do an 11-foot ceiling," she explains. "And in order to get a roof with enough slope and tie it into the roof, there was some major figuring on that."

Concrete was pumped in for the slab that supports the slate floor, the drainage was done in the ground and the wiring ran underground, in-step lighting, a gas line to the wood-burning fire place framed by a mantel by Old Word Mantels.

St. Landry Parish Visitor Information Center
Commercial Architecture - Gold
Architectural Firms: Ashe, Broussard, Weinzettle
Architects, and EnvironMental Design

When St. Landry Parish set out to build a new tourist center, it decided to hold a contest. Firms were invited to submit their plans for the vacant property off I-49 between Opelousas and Washington and make presentations. It was the collaborative effort between Alexandria-based Ashe, Broussard, Weinzettle Architects, EnvironMental Design of Lafayette and Jeffrey Carbo Landscape Architects of Alexandria that blew the judges away. And apparently the selection committee made the best choice, as this trio has landed an INDesign Gold for commercial architecture.

There is little doubt in architect Doug Ashe's mind that bringing in the eye of Carbo helped not only secure the job but also produce a 4,600-square-foot project melding sustainability and green construction with a South Louisiana environment. "We looked at the entire project site as a whole," says Ashe, noting the contributions of intern architect Mike Nichols with his firm and Eddie Cazayoux of EnvironMental Design in the overall plan and execution. "I think it was a huge plus" he says of Carbo's contributions, which introduced an abundance of indigenous plants and trees to the primary building, which is made from steel with 60 to 90 percent recycled content.

Ashe says the directive from St. Landry tourism officials was two-fold, to create a visitors center and an educational center that would allow those stopping by to also learn about the environment, landscaping and the building's sustainability features.

The main building was oriented to gain maximum use of sunlight, shade and wind for energy conservation. On the roof are metal panels integrated with solar film to generate power for the facility, and protruding from the hipped roof is a modern wind turbine with a vertical axis that charges batteries inside the structure to provide power to an interior circuit.

Surrounding the building is a deck and boardwalk made with sourced IPE wood from Brazil. A 1,500-gallon galvanized cistern collects rainwater for the landscaping. Instead of downspouts, water is collected by rain chains into an oyster shell-filled drainage runnel, outflowing into a cypress bog garden.

Along the boardwalk are four kiosks featuring interpretative panels explaining the practices used in the project. In front of the landscaped area is the stunning Spicy Cayenne Fiddle made from red, green, orange and bronze glass crafted by artist Christine Ledoux. Keeping with the theme of the center, Ledoux's fiddle was made from remnant pieces of glass salvaged from a church in New Orleans.

Inside of the center, longleaf pine flooring salvaged from nearby Washington covers the open reception area. Behind the lobby's desk are colorful neon-green Knoll chairs made from recycled content. A low velocity, large diameter ceiling fan cools off road-weary travelers. Energy-saving LED fixtures and bulbs light the rooms without emitting heat.

At the rear of the lobby are the men's, women's and family restrooms, all equipped with low-flow water fixtures, Ashe says. A bladed hand dryer blows cool air to conserve energy as well as paper towels.

Ashe says his firm and Cazayoux shared all aspects of design and construction administration, but he also stresses the client's contributions to the finished project as well. "They were very involved in all phases of the design," he says of the St. Landry Parish Tourist Commission. The commission's director, Celeste Gomez, was the owners' rep during the process. "Celeste was very involved in the decision-making,' Ashe says.

Architecture - Commercial
EnvironMental Design and Ashe, Broussard,
Weinzettle Architects    St. Landry Parish Tourist Center
WHLC Architecture     Lafayette General Medical Center

Donald Breaux Architect    Red's Training Complex

Seaux+Pierce Architecture    Stella Maris
Barras Architects    Classic Auto Spa
Lynn Guidry    Carencro City Hall

Honorable Mention
Lynn Guidry    Northwood United Methodist Church

Architecture - Historic Preservation/Restoration
EnvironMental Design     Chrétien Point
Louisiana Architecture Bureau and
Poche Prouet Associates    Buchanan Lofts

Donald Breaux Architect    Le Grand Hall
The Sellers Group    Saint Genevieve Catholic Church

Architecture - Residential
NMF Architecture    Bee Residence

Interior Design - Commercial
Kevin Stewart, architect  Manuel Builders Office

Interior Design Solutions    Carencro City Hall
Interior Design Solutions    LGMC

Interior Design - Residential
Annette Christian    Collier Residence - Outdoor Kitchen
Charles Seale Design    Pucheu Master Bath
Jeffery McCullough Art & Design Consulting    Byron Residence

Charles Seale Design    Fontenot Dining Room
Moss and Veerina Interiors    Thomas Residence
Swags & Tassels    Hanks Kitchen

Annette Christian    Collier Residence - Kitchen

**About the Judges
Corey Saft has taught in the School of Architecture and Design at UL Lafayette since 2002 while also maintaining a small design and research practice. He earned his master's degree in architecture from the University of Oregon in 1999 and moved to Louisiana in 2001. A native of Philadelphia, Saft is also a past INDesign award winner.

Beth Miller is a licensed interior designer and director of the Interior Design Program at Mississippi State University. She has collected an impressive array of state and regional awards.