WATER RESEARCH INSTITUTE
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
The Interpretive Center of the Water Research Institute embodies the industrial history of the Louisiana waterfront and blends that history with site conditions and ecology. The form is derived from a response to the humid, hot conditions of the Louisiana Batture and a desire to bridge the gap between river and levee.
The Southern Dogtrot house was the first point of inspiration for the building form. In this local architectural type, two masses encourage the passage of air between one another, and create a cooling cross breeze as a consequence of their dialogue. In mapping the prevailing summer winds I found an orientation that presented favorably towards a strong southwest to northeast orientation, but unfavorably oriented the project towards the sun. To negotiate this, louvers bridge the two gaps between the masses, closing off the southern facade to sunlight but opening it at the bottom, to the cool and shaded Batture. The entire project is clad in shaded cedar louvers- with the exception of the underbelly, an observation deck looking into the flood-plane. A stairwell descends into the Batture itself, completing the connection between a place of research/theory and a place of biological reality.