The design began with a liberating question, “So how do we move our college downtown?” Located on the edge of town in a bunkerlike midcentury building surrounded by asphalt, CLTCC was hampered by the physical limitations of an outdated trade school model.
The new downtown campus site is the first of its kind for a community college in Louisiana. The L-shaped building plan is positioned to the edges of the city block to frame a tiered lawn that serves as a provisional space for the campus and a shared event space for the downtown community. Large expanses of glazing overlooking the lawn and rain gardens provide a constant connection to nature for the students and staff.
A two-story stack of classrooms, offices, and administrative areas reside within a brick clad bar that spans over the student support spaces located on the ground floor. The underside of this two-story bar is clad in cypress slats, providing a continuous datum extending across the full length of the building, unifying interior and exterior spaces. One such exterior space is a 14’ tall and 40’ wide breezeway, a portal that serves as a pre-function space and encourages circulation to and from the park. The balance of the humble exterior material palette includes ironspot accent bricks, exposed fastener box-rib metal panels, and cypress slat siding.
The new community college is both inclusive and transformative, with student support spaces wrapping around an inviting two-story lobby. This thoroughfare arrangement supports interaction, collaboration, and encourages students to linger between classes. Lab spaces and classrooms are designed to focus on hands-on experiential learning, mirroring real-world environments – key to the mission of the college.