The Capitol Park Master Plan established that all new structures be designed to reference the Art Deco character of the historic Capitol Tower, built in 1932 by Governor Huey Long. Our design strategy proposed an alternate solution, suggesting that a distinction be made between new governmental office buildings and proposed cultural facilities within the campus, of which this museum would be the first. This strategy allowed for a design that provides a strong relationship between landscape and architecture and acknowledges the unique conditions of the site.
The museum siting establishes biaxial symmetry with the State Library across Fourth Street while acknowledging its privileged location adjacent to the Gardens and Tower. The museum can be approached from either of these directions, and visitors converge at a large, covered terrace – an over scaled “porch” – that opens to the north to provide framed views of the Capitol. 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 building facades respond to the adjacent context and vary from highly articulated to the east where the site abuts an adjacent residential neighborhood to a more restrained composition on the remaining facades within the park. The metal wall panels on the west faade transition from solid to perforated at the entry terrace, where the simple cubic volume gestures toward the Capitol Tower. The 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.