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Louisiana State Museum by Eskew+Dumez+Ripple
April 5th, 2012 by Sanjay Gangal
Article source: Eskew+Dumez+Ripple
This state history museum is located adjacent to the Louisiana State Capitol and Gardens within the governmental complex now known as Capitol Park. The project is the sole cultural institution included in an ambitious master planning effort to relocate 1.5 million square feet of dispersed state governmental offices into a consolidated location surrounding the historic Capitol Tower, built in 1932 by then governor Huey Long.
A previously adopted masterplan for Capitol Park dictated that all new structures built on the Capitol grounds were to be designed to reference the Art Deco character of the existing Capitol Tower. An alternate strategy for the state museum was proposed, suggesting that a distinction be made between new governmental office buildings and proposed cultural facilities within the campus. This strategy allowed for a design that provides a powerful relationship between landscape and architecture in order to acknowledge the unique conditions of its program and site.
The museum siting establishes biaxial symmetry with the State Library to the west while acknowledging its privileged location adjacent to the Gardens and Tower to the north. The museum can be approached from either of these directions, and visitors converge at a large, covered terrace – an overscaled \”porch\” – that opens to the north to provide framed views of the Capitol Tower. Entry to the museum is from this terrace, and a multi-purpose room (designed to accommodate 200 seats for lectures or 100 for banquets) opens directly onto this outdoor gathering space for expanded events.
The envelope of the building is composed of cast-in-place concrete, glass, and metal wall panels. The fenestration and façade compositions of the museum were designed to respond to the varying context, bridging between the monumentality of the civic buildings to the west, north and south and the smaller, residential scale of the single-family bungalows to the east. On the west façade, the metal wall panels transition from solid to perforated at the entry terrace, where the simple cubic volume gestures toward the Capitol Tower. This perforated screen wall acts as a scrim to filter daylight into the space and changes in character from a shimmering, silvery object by day to a translucent, glowing presence at night.
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