The Louisiana State Museum and Sports Hall of Fame in Natchitoches, Louisiana merges two programs formerly housed in a university coliseum and a nineteenth century courthouse, elevating the visitor experience for both. Our exploration of building identity focuses on three questions. Does the dichotomy of sports and history require two unique identities? Should expansion of the city's tourism necessitate reproduction of the historical building fabric? Do these positions exclude a connection to context?
Our resolution is, first, to understand athletics as a component of cultural history rather than an independent theme. While sports and regional history may appeal to very different groups, the building configuration explores interconnections between the two.
Second, historical pastiche is set aside in favor of a design language in response to the site. The internal organization is an extension of the existing meandering urban circulation, while the design mediates the scale and character of the historic commercial district and adjacent residential neighborhood. It further reflects the impact of the red river whose fluvial geomorphology informed the dynamic interior form.
The exterior is clad with pleated copper panels, alluding to the shutters and clapboards of nearby plantation homes. The louvered skin controls light, views and ventilation, animates the façade, mediates scale and employs surface articulation previously achieved by architectural ornamentation.
The dynamic foyer is sculpted out of 1,100 cast stone panels, washed with natural light. Within theatrical-style films are projected onto the shaped surfaces of this orientation and assembly space, capturing the stories of Louisiana's remarkable history.