Cover Story

Drum Roll, Please

Honoring the 2006 INDesign award winners

The Independent Weekly is proud to honor the most innovative and thoughtful commercial and residential architecture, historic preservation projects and interior and landscape design in Acadiana and the role they play in our community. For our second annual INDesign Awards, we tapped a panel of three respected regional professionals to serve as judges and ensured that none of the judges had business or personal connections to any of the entrants. All commercial and residential projects completed in the 2005 calendar\ year were eligible. Without further ado, here are the 2006 INDesign Award honorees.


Eddy Knight did not live to see his Knight Oil Tools' headquarters rise in first-rate fashion, but his widow and three children saw to it that the founder's vision for the striking contemporary structure on S.E. Evangeline Thruway in Broussard was executed to perfection.

Knight's son Mark, the company's president, says his father's primary goal in planning the facility ' which actually began in 1982 but was put on hold due to the oil bust ' was the preservation of three trees, a towering magnolia and two registered live oaks, one a breathtaking example of natural beauty believed to be more than two centuries old.

"The entire building was built around those trees," says Mark Knight, who hired an arborist two years ago to care for the trees throughout the construction process.

The trio of trees is located in the courtyard, a centerpiece of the $18 million, 15-acre complex that divides the 43,600-square-foot corporate office from the 52,800-square-foot warehouse and fabrication facility. By using a concrete wall to enclose the warehouse, the courtyard ' which has a fountain feature ' functions as a luxurious retreat. The main building's 4,500-square-foot entertainment room with a full kitchen is surrounded in glass and opens to the glass-roofed veranda and courtyard.

The courtyard and rectangular scale of the main building were Lafayette Architect Donald J. Breaux's solutions to the challenge of working around the trees. Breaux handled both the exterior and interior design of the facility, which was built by the Rudick Co. of Lafayette.

Breaux says the Knights wanted the headquarters to adequately represent the company's position in the oil and gas industry ' Knight Oil Tools is the largest privately held rental tool provider in the country ' and Breaux's personal goal was to convey its technological savvy. "They wanted the image, and we felt it was high tech," he says. With an eye toward the blue and gray colors of the company's logo, Breaux gave the three-story building an upscale industrial look by incorporating steel panels and tinting the glass blue.

The Knights immediately embraced it.

A fountain with a metal sculpture that sways in the wind is the exterior's focal point; the art was created by 79-year-old New Orleanian Lin Emery, a renowned kinetic sculptor. "That's her rendition of our business," Knight says.

Because the building faces the west, sunscreens to limit the amount of heat coming into the offices were added to each pane of the recessed, all-glass entryway. The sculptural form to the far right of the building, a cylinder that encloses the stairwell, relates to the semi-circular glass feature to the immediate right of the front doors. This long stretch of glass is one of the building's strongest exterior attributes, and it's also one of the best interior elements ' as it creates the space for tables and chairs in employee lounges on each level of the building. Granite countertops and mahogany cabinets in these rooms lend to their flexibility as small conference areas, and the furniture ' custom pieces by industrial designer Jorge Pensi from the Knoll Studio Toledo collection ' allow for easy reconfiguration of the spaces.

On each floor, the lounges open to reception desks constructed with contrasting ebonized mahogany and aluminum panels designed to provide a private and organized place for employees to work while assisting visitors. Though Breaux designed and chose the interior's colors, the space planning and furnishings were handled by Innovative Intelligent Design of Lafayette, which took its cue from the architect's contemporary exterior. IDI Interior Designer Heather Trosclair says the common areas near the reception desks offer classically modern mahogany tables and aluminum frame guest seating upholstered in black leather ' all of which works well with the contemporary lines of the African mahogany wall panels and stainless steel reveals to create a minimal, yet warm, space.

The interior floors feature granite and slate that has a slick look and some custom and standard carpeting.

The company's boardroom also has walls of African mahogany and a round, gray granite table emblazoned with a blue Knight insignia. "The acoustics, for some reason, are just perfect," Breaux says. "We'd like to think we planned that, but it just happened."

At a grand opening celebration last week for the new headquarters, Eddy Knight's presence was missed. Eddy, who died in November 2002, never saw the final plan for his building.

Breaux is confident his late client would approve of the quality construction and lasting design. "It's more or less a timeless building," he says. Of one thing, however, the architect is certain: "He would have been happy that we saved those trees and made them a prominent feature. He didn't want anyone to touch those trees." ' Leslie Turk


Architect Donald J. Breaux is a Crowley native who's practiced in Lafayette for the last 40 years. So he didn't hesitate when he was called on to lead the charge in renovating the old Crowley Motor Co. building on North Parkerson Avenue in Crowley. "I really like restorations of historical value," he says. "It was a great opportunity to do something that had a lot of structural elements I really liked, and it was just a really pretty building."

The 16,000-square-foot building with the sign that reads "Crowley Motor Co." is now home to Crowley's city hall, with exhibits throughout the building on the rice industry and a museum planned for the third floor in honor of the legendary Crowley record producer J.D. Miller.

"When we started the project the building had been vacant for 20 years," Breaux says. "It was a car dealership, but later J.D. Miller bought the building and had his recording studio in there. In fact, when we went into the building, it was a total mess. J.D. was also head of the housing authority in Crowley, and he had like 500 containers of paint on the third floor that the city had to get rid of because a lot of the paint was lead. He left a lot of things in the building that were for recording. The city was able to salvage a good bit of it. But when we got into the building it was in a deplorable state."

The city of Crowley purchased the building from the Miller family for $180,000 in 2000. Breaux became involved with the project shortly thereafter. The first order of business was to halt extensive water damage inside the building from a 20-year-old roof leak.

Two different phases of renovations for the 85-year-old building wrapped up three months ago, to the tune of $1.8 million. "A lot of work had to be done," Breaux says. "Historically, it's a fine building. The makeup of it is all these heavy timbers, beautiful timber that we left all exposed. There's a lot of front end work that happened. Why did we do that? You couldn't duplicate that building for that amount of money."

The refurbished building still maintains a mezzanine, as it originally did when the front of the building was used as a car showroom. And the freight elevator that once moved the assembled cars from the third floor to the showroom floor remains in working order.

Breaux wanted to retain the historical and structural integrity of the building, but he also wanted to present the building within today's context. "We didn't want it to be just a replica of the past, but of what we're doing now," he says. "Technology has changed, and even glass has changed. So we even used glass in different ways." The enlarged front windows allow even more sunlight inside, highlighting the new lighter woods on the first floor and the preserved darker woods on both the second and third floors.

Breaux stresses the importance of historic preservation by pointing to its economic impact on an area. "It was on the main street," he says, "and the building was going to decay. If somebody wouldn't have done this, it would have become an eyesore. And now there are a number of people who have bought some of these buildings and are starting to restore them. For instance, we're working on the Opera House, which is right across the street. It's one of the few in the South that exist today."

Breaux's firm is also working on two more projects in downtown Crowley. "It's just a great opportunity to develop downtown and make it a more viable living space. ' R. Reese Fuller


Steve Oubre is changing the way Acadiana lives. As the designer of the traditional neighborhood developments River Ranch and Sugar Mill Pond, he's putting a permanent mark on the landscape with his architectural talent. But the project closest to his heart is not a grand public building or another urban development ' it's his own new house, cocooned at the center of River Ranch.

While the exterior architecture exemplifies nouveau Creole, the interior is strictly modernist, reflecting his personal taste. A walk through the structure with the voluble architect is a veritable history and philosophy lesson on how to build an urban house suited for a busy family in the Louisiana climate. A small public park with a quiet fountain leads to the entrance of the Oubre house; the architect chose his lot for the proximity to the park. Sunrise and cross breezes are two benefits. Having an open green where his son, Parker, can toss a baseball with his friends is another.

Walk through the portal into a walled courtyard and knock on the front door. The floor plan of the house is a squared "U" shape, the arms defining the sides of the courtyard. Oubre was careful to orient his house and the other houses he designed in River Ranch to catch winter light while shading out the heat of the summer sun. Deep overhangs project into the courtyard on the southern and western sides of the house, controlling exposure. "Today is the spring equinox," he says. "It's noon. See where the sun is. From now on it won't come any further under the overhang, so the house will stay cool."

The front door opens into a two-story, 21-foot high living room. Sleek stucco walls are designed to hang contemporary art, a collection in progress for the moment. A small study reached by a sculptural spiral staircase is suspended over a portion of the room, lowering the ceiling of the dining room to an intimate height and offering access to a second story porch, which Oubre characterizes as "an interface to the public park, but elevated out of the public domain."

The furnishings are kept to a minimum. A low backed, L-shaped leather sofa with clean rectangular lines gives an uninterrupted view of the fireplace. Only one chair fills out the room's furnishings, but it's a Mies van der Rohe Barcelona chair, designed by the modernist architect in 1929. Rocky, Oubre's gray cat, has appropriated a decadently cushioned shag area rug. Rocky doesn't deign to move no matter who else wants to sit on the rug. Oubre strokes her head affectionately as he sits on the sofa and talks about his house.

"The objective was to keep it simple," he says. "We're very busy people. We don't have time to deal with detail." The living room flows into a sleek kitchen that seemingly expands through a wall of glass panels into the courtyard, making a compact space feel vast and fluid. The public spaces of the house incorporate only 1,200 square feet, but the 12-foot ceilings provide so much head room that the living space seems infinitely larger.

The kitchen exemplifies functional contemporary austerity. Two long parallel rectangles of polished granite form countertops and an eating bar that easily seats six. Punctuated only by a sink and six-burner Wolf stove, there are no cooking tools in sight. "We love to cook," Oubre says of himself and his wife Sarah, human resource manager for Home Bank. "It's not only the culture. We both love food." All the accoutrements of a cooking couple ' food processor, mixer, canisters of flour and sugar, wine rack and pot rack ' are hidden in a huge pantry behind sliding green glass doors. "Sarah picked out the hardware and fixtures," Oubre says. "Usually, when a couple build a house, they can't agree. The designer winds up acting as psychologist. Everything Sarah chose was exactly what I would have picked. It's amazing." Light fixtures work as modern sculpture, suspended on long arms over the bar or functioning as the main focal feature of the dining room.

Turning the corner of the kitchen into the third arm of the "U" lies the master bedroom, another act of self restraint. A Beidmeir-design bed is nearly the only piece of furniture in the room. The most dramatic element is a floating curtain that pulls back to reveal another wall of glass facing the courtyard. "It's private," says Oubre. "Our neighbor's house doesn't have any windows facing into the courtyard."

Architecture and furnishings form such a seamless design that the house looks deceptively simple in concept. Oubre used "the golden section," a mathematical ratio of height to width that creates harmonious proportions. Used by the ancient Greek architects of the Parthenon to build a perfect temple, the ratio can also be applied to art and music and was used by artists Leonardo da Vinci and Albrecht Durer.

Oubre initially designed the house with 10-foot ceilings. "They weren't right," he says. "When we have a difficult time with design work, it's usually because we're pushing it. There's an organic element we need to be sensitive to. We need to sit back and let the design define the space, not the other way around." ' Mary Tutwiler


Valsin Broussard's mercantile store was the site of the first 19th century Mass celebrated in the Broussard area, then referred to as Cote Gelée. In 1870, the structure was donated to serve as the church building, beginning the long history of Broussard's Sacred Heart Church. The church and town of Broussard have come a long way. The church's recent three-part addition on Main Street, completed by Abell+Crozier Architects in December and contracted by C.M. Miciotto & Son Inc., represents new beginnings and a return to old customs.

"It had probably been at least 30 years since anything had been built around the church," says the Rev. Louis Richard. "The Broussard community has been growing astronomically. We've seen a tremendous growth in our church community as well." Richard challenged Abell+Crozier with adding a parish life center, administrative center and central gathering spot for entering the church, while seamlessly blending the new structure with the red brick church. (The church and adjacent St. Cecilia School remained open during construction.)

"The community had an awful lot of attachment to the old church so there was an awful lot of stigma of building something new into the existing church," says Architect Chad Abell. "We tried to use materials and similar lines and scale as well as detailing of the different materials to try to blend them together."

Brick and cast stone were used for the exterior, and new window patterns mimicked the old windows. "The existing church had a real cruciform kind of style in the window pattern; it was all stained glass, and so we just used that same cruciform sort of pattern in a couple of different materials to incorporate into the other buildings," says Abell.

Both the parish life center and administrative center were needed to accommodate church staff and church groups that meet regularly. The church previously used St. Cecilia's cafeteria as its parish hall and the rectory for administrative offices. But it's the central gathering spot ' or narthex, in architectural terms ' that ties the whole project together. Bringing the church back to its roots, the narthex is a transition into church that gives parishioners an indoor place to greet each other and visit before walking into Mass.

"Before we come together to pray, we first come together, and I wanted to reflect that in a space," says Richard. "People stand on steps or out in front before and after services. This was primarily a place for us to gather and visit in a warm, welcoming environment and add something to church."

The narthex features exposed wood trusses overhead and natural slate floors, both chosen to blend with existing materials. "We were trying to go for something very inviting and warm as opposed to austere and stuffy," says Abell. Terrazzo was the first choice for flooring, but because of budget concerns, slate was substituted to complement the exterior brick.

Acoustics were another concern in the open gathering space. "We wanted it to be a live space as opposed to a dead space, but there's kind of a fine line between it being a live space that functions," says Abell. "We used the geometry of the ceiling to kind of break up the acoustics." The narthex also features side wings with lower ceilings to accommodate more intimate conversations in contrast to the high-volume center.

In addition to the narthex, Richard also requested a baptismal font, used in the early days of the Catholic church. Baptismal candidates enter the water to be baptized and exit from steps on the other side. The font, shaped like a cross and made of black granite, is also used for holy water, contained in raised granite bowls constantly flowing with water on four corners. "We made the decision to make room for that two years ago when we changed out the pews," says Richard. "The font will stay on 24/7, because one of the symbols of baptism is living water, so I wanted to design and build something that was flowing with living water."

The font was in the final stages last week, and several other aspects of the architects' design are planned for a future phase. Space between the rectory and parish life center was left green for a prayer garden, which Richard says will contain a fountain, benches and statues.

Architect Eric Crozier says the project first called for the addition in the rear of the church, but because of logistics and function, the buildings were moved to the front. This decision resulted in some unplanned, yet surprising results. "You can see from the altar all the way to the statue in front," he says. "It's all connected." In addition to connecting the church community, the project also now connects the town to its church.

"By putting it in the front, it fulfilled the [church's] needs, but then it became more of a piece of the town of Broussard," says Crozier. "It helps the town meet the street, becomes more of a public place and brings the church closer to Broussard." ' Erin Zaunbrecher


Knight Oil Tools,
2030 Hwy. 90 East, Lafayette
Designers: Heather Trosclair of Innovative Intelligent Design and Mollie Saucier, Don Breaux of Donald J. Breaux Architect

MidSouth Bank River Ranch,
1200 Camellia Blvd., suite 104
Designer: Heather Trosclair of Innovative Intelligent Design

South Louisiana Community College, Lafayette Campus, 320 Devalcourt
Design Team: Kellie Foster Searcy and Steve Oubre of Architects Southwest

MidSouth Bank, Versailles Centre Branch, 102 Versailles Blvd.
Designer: Heather Trosclair of Innovative Intelligent Design

The Lemoine Company Interior Renovations, 214 Jefferson St., Ste. 200
Design Team: Steve Oubre and Greg Damico of Architects Southwest

IDI Showroom, 227 Jefferson St.
Designers: Heather Trosclair of Innovative Intelligent Design and Mollie Saucier


Steve and Sarah Oubre Residence,

River Ranch
Design Team: Steve Oubre of Architects Southwest

No bronze or silver awards given.


Stone Energy Company,
625 East Kaliste Saloom Road
Landscape Architect: Rusty Ruckstuhl with Grass Roots Inc.

No gold or bronze medals given.


Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Broussard (Narthex Addition, New Parish Life Center and Administrative Building)
Design firm: Abell + Crozier Architects

Knight Oil Tools Inc.
2727 SE Evangeline Thruway
Design firm: Donald J. Breaux Architect

B.I. Moody III College of Business
Design firm: Angelle Architects,
Breaux Bridge

South Louisiana Community College
Design firm: Architects Southwest


The Oubre Residence, River Ranch
Design firm: Architects Southwest

Rosewalk ' A Residence
Design firm: Henry Boudreaux

No bronze medals given


The Ford Building Restoration,
425 North Parkerson Ave., Crowley
Design Firm: Donald J. Breaux Architect


As the design director for noted New Orleans firm Eskew+Dumez+Ripple, Dumez oversees the design of all projects from concept to construction documents. He has a master's of architecture from Yale University of Architecture and a bachelor of architecture from LSU. He is the president of AIA Louisiana, and his other professional affiliations include the American Institute of Architects, the Preservation Resource Center. His projects include: Acadiana Center for the Arts, The National D-Day Museum, Center for the Study of the American Spirit, the W New Orleans Hotel and the Paul and Lulu Hilliard University Art Museum.

Mossop is the director of LSU's School of Landscape Architecture. She was recently recruited from the Harvard Graduate School of Design, where she headed the master's program in landscape architecture. The Australia native is the former director of the landscape architecture program at the University of New South Wales, and she is a principal at the Sydney firm Spackman+Mossop.

Coker graduated from Mississippi College in 2001 and has worked as an interior designer at JBHM for the past four years. Her responsibilities at JBHM include providing interior finishes for selection, completing schedules and specifications, as well as furniture schedules and packages, space planning and interior detailing. Coker also produces architectural drawings in Revit and AutoCAD and provides construction administration in interior design. Her projects include: Twin Lakes Camp and Conference Center, American Eurocopter, Southern Beverage, Bennett-Gillespie Eye Clinic, Madison Dental Clinic and Brandon Library. Monika currently serves as ASID chair of the Mississippi Association's South Central Chapter.