Live, Work

by Edward Jon Cazayoux

Lafayette’s business leaders may favor traditional architecture for their homes, but that’s not the statement they want their offices to make.

When I was asked to return as a judge of the INDesign Awards (architecture division), I was impressed or reminded of the difference in taste of architecture between where we work and where we live. What seems to drive the design of commercial architecture is image. People in business want to show that they are on the cutting edge of technology and that they are a progressive business person. They want the image of success and going forward.

However, these same business people, particularly the older generation, prefer a more traditional style of architecture for their homes — we can see how successful River Ranch is because of this. It is not only the traditional architectural style that is preferred but also the way of life: living, working and shopping in the same location, but doing it by walking. Just like people used to do.

Years ago cities came up with zoning that changed all of this. Zoning dictates that you live in one area of town while working and shopping in different areas of town. I thought the big three automakers in Detroit came up with this idea because it required that you purchase their vehicles to get anywhere — especially after they bought up all the trolley systems around the country and mothballed them. New Orleans and San Francisco were smart enough to retain some of theirs.

Steve Mouzon, an architect, urban designer and author, was invited to PlanLafayette Week in February, and I participated in a roundtable discussion with him and other local architects. We also walked the city’s central business district to discuss how to revitalize Lafayette’s Downtown/ CBD. What style/image should our commercial architecture be for Lafayette?

Like most cities, Lafayette has had a different style commercial architecture from its residential. Today most commercial architecture across the country all looks the same.

Santa Fe and New Orleans are two exceptions, as their unique styles are something you will only see in those respective cities. Better known as Santa Fake, the city has long required the adobe style.

In New Orleans, it was the climate and high density living, working and shopping that shaped the French Quarter at the edge of a swamp. And it was the Vieux Carré Commission that preserved it from contemporary changes. The Vieux Carré Commission was the second historic district created in this country in 1937, becoming one of the first such entities to understand the benefits and importance of historic preservation.

In contrast, St. Louis had a French Quarter, but it was wiped clean to make way for the Gateway Arch that took its place during the era of Urban Renewal. That could have happened to the French Quarter in New Orleans, and we are all immensely grateful it did not.

Lafayette’s central business district does not have a uniform style, but it is easy to tell the old buildings that have been renovated with taste and those that have not. Continuity or context is important to tie things together into a cohesive CBD. I am anxious to see what Mouzon’s suggestions will be in his keynote speech at the INDesign Awards in April. What is historic and the one thing that can pull the CBD together is more Downtown housing, which I’m guessing by now most people recognize. This alone will make the CBD more alive and a safer place.

The older generations might want to return to a more traditional neighborhood after work, but the younger generation — while it also likes higher density living and being able to walk to work and shopping destinations — prefers the kind of contemporary-style housing we’re likely to see if we ever get the CBD going.

Edward “Eddie” Jon Cazayoux is an architect whose firm, EnvironMental Design, practices sustainable architecture and historic preservation. Eddie is professor emeritus at UL Lafayette where he taught for 30 years and was director of the School of Architecture for 13 of those years. He has retired from the university but continues his architectural practice.

And the Winners Are ...

The results are in — 11 of the best commercial projects from throughout Acadiana will be recognized when the 2015 INDesign Awards luncheon returns April 16.

Each spring the INDesign Awards honor Acadiana’s most exemplary projects of the past year in commercial and residential architecture and interior design, historic preservation and urban development. This year’s awards show is quickly approaching; the luncheon will be held at 11:30 a.m. Thursday, April 16, at the Cajundome Convention Center, featuring (in addition to the awards show) a vision on the future of Acadiana architecture from keynote speaker Steve Mouzon. For more information on the event, contact Robin Hebert via email at [email protected] or by calling (337) 769-8603.

The commercial project winners of the 2015 INDesign Awards are:

(the projects and talent behind them will be featured in the April-May issue of ABiz)

Gold Awards:

Abell + Crozier + Davis Architects (architecture) Right Angle Office/East Main Street

Abell + Crozier + Davis Architects (architecture) General Electric Oil & Gas

Chase Marshall Architects (architecture) Sound and Communication Systems

WHLC Architecture (architecture) Lafayette General Medical Center

Charles Seale Design (interior design) Four Southern Girls

**Silver Awards:

Abell + Crozier + Davis Architects (interior design) Right Angle Office/East Main Street

Mark Lalande, Architect (architecture) The Kitchenary

Paul J. Allain, Architect (architecture) Bank of Abbeville & Trust Co.

Pecot & Company Architects (architecture) Aerion LLC

Bronze Awards:

Don J. O’Rourke & Associates (architecture) City of Kaplan Courthouse

Interior Design Solutions (interior design) AMG Specialty Hospital