Innovative convention center conceptual plan gains Tourist Commission approval

By: Paul Kedinger
Members of the Acadia Parish Tourist Commission were mesmerized and ecstatic about Architect Trey Trahan’s concept for a convention center during his presentation on Thursday morning, April 12.

They readily approved the conceptual plans which were inspired by the area’s rice levees and the flow from rural/agricultural development to the east to the urban/residential development to the west on the seven acre site off Tower Road, adjacent to the Tourist office.

Architect Trey Trahan, a Crowley native, set the tone for his presentation to the Commission members by explaining the first step he and his design team took “was the process of getting to know the uniqueness of a place.”

Central to his vision was how the contour of the rice levees flow from the agricultural landscape of Acadia Parish to the urban/residential developments to the west.

The convention center is envisioned as an extension of the landscape starting from the rice fields and rising to the urban areas.

That landscape is conveyed in a building that mimics rice levees, by rising from the ground level on the east side to the center’s main area on the west.

The levee concept is further enhanced by three open areas accessible to convention participants, grass covered roofs and an open air atrium that can be viewed from the lecture hall.

The 90.000 square foot center would consist of four primary areas: dining room, lecture hall able to hold 200 to 250 people, meeting/conference rooms, and a ballroom.

In addition, the plans provide for a 9,500 square foot brewery and a culinary academy, to reflect Acadia Parish’s connection to rice in brewing beer and the its renowned talented Cajun cooks and foods.

The agriculture imprint of

Acadia Parish is also reflected in the use of grass pavers in the parking area for 250 vehicles.

Trahan told the Commission members the convention center’s space was organized to convey to visitors “who we are as a parish.”

He noted, “We want to create a place where people want to come back.”

That goal was quickly answered by several Commission members, including Charlotte Miller and Dollie Monroe who praised the plan as a source for educating and inspiring students of all ages.

Commissioner Paul Broussard talked about the plan’s capacity to create “a positive groundswell” and how it integrated green space with modern technology.

The innovative concept has already attracted requests to feature the plans on international architectural websites, reported Trahan.

Asked about a timetable schedule, Trahan indicated the entire process would require 27 months, with plans to be finalized in 11 months, bids let within 60 days, and 420 days for construction.

Planning would have to coincide with construction to extend the service road to Tower Road.

The architect estimated costs could range between $250 and $300 per square foot.

Assisting Trahan during the presentation were senior designer Mark Hash and design team member Rachel Hall.

In other business, following a brief closed executive session, Scott Privat, Commission attorney, was authorized to conclude the sale of a servitude, allowing the current owners to complete installation of underground irritation system and retain mineral rights.

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