Reactscape device:space

Project 1.002 – Connect


The Mississippi River and the surrounding landscape have supported the Native American settlements and continued development of the city of Baton Rouge. The river is the life blood of the city but has also been kept at arms length. The levee is a functioning protective mechanism but is also a barrier, pushing individuals and communities away from the flowing river. Industry created the connections to the river through networks of rail and water transport. Through shifts in transportation and economics the river has lost its connection to the commerce, residents and visitors of Baton Rouge.

The connection between the city and the river can be defined in many ways. There are direct physical connections between industry, development and protective infrastructures. There are cultural and social connections that have shaped the communities and individuals residing along the river and within the surrounding cities. There are ecological connections between flora, fauna and larger networks within the region. It will be important for you to define these connections in order to engage them in meaningful ways.

The current DeSoto park site is being developed as an ecological research area focusing on water quality testing, habitat construction/preservation, and Mississippi River batture ecologies. You are being asked to design a new plaza at the visitor center that connects to the political/cultural history of the city and the ecological edge of the Mississippi River. The project should explore how the city and river are connected and celebrate the richness of Louisiana’s culture and natural resources.

This space will be a civic extension of the city and state government and a moment that connects visitors, residents and politicians to the environment of the Mississippi river. The area for the proposed intervention is the area surrounding the existing visitor’s center moving across river road towards the Desoto Park site. The space can be thought of as a primary site containing the visitor center and an extended site that may be modified to make connections into the city and the river. The city is soliciting innovative ideas for how to address this “connection.”


View Baton Rouge Visitor Center in a larger map

The proposal must include the following:

  • Connection(s) from State Capitol across river road into the Batture Ecological Research Preserve (DeSoto Park area)
  • Parking for 15-20 vehicles
  • Visitor center overflow for hosted events (accommodates 30-80)
  • Staging area for large groups of visitors (accommodates 30-40)
  • Outdoor seating area for new Visitors Center Cafe (5-15 tables)

The new spaces will engage the history and culture of the city and region as well as engage the urban context. Beyond the stated needs the site must also accommodate visitors and residents on a daily basis. The spaces will:

  • connect to existing pedestrian and vehicular systems
  • take advantage of or responsibly modify existing vegetation
  • create relationships with the existing water systems
  • overcome and/or work within the existing topography
  • intelligently consider the existing building uses and architectural frameworks
  • engage the temporal aspects of the river and the city
  • based on the readings and outside research how are you addressing form, meaning, and experience
  • how do materials strengthen the proposal’s concept and form

The project is fortunate to have a limited amount of dredge material, due to current navigation channel expansions. This fill is available for land building if necessary. Any structures over river road must comply with DOT requirements by providing 18′ of clearance above river road and 23′ above the rail line. Any structures in the river must not impede normal river traffic and must be designed to accommodate river flood stages.

SCHEDULE: Procedures

Wednesday, February 22nd

Project introduction and discussion.
CAD Base Plan Refinement and Distribution (AutoCAD)
Develop functional diagrams for required program elements. (illustrator or analog)
Site analysis diagrams (composite of previous site mappings specific to proposal) (illustrator or analog)
Cultural and historical research
Concept Development

Friday, February 24th

Site 0.003 {inventory}
Concept/Parti Diagrams, 80 Thumbnails (black ink) ~4″, 20 refined (illustrator) ~1:100, 8 further refined ~1:50

Monday, February 27th

Pin-up of analysis, historic research, parti diagrams and site 0.003 {inventory}
8 refined diagrams developed into physical models

Wednesay, February 29th

Desk Crits, review Physical Models
Begin site plans/sections

Friday, March 2nd

Continue work on site plans/sections
Site 0.004 {measure}

Monday, March 5th

Pin-up of Site 0.004 {measure} and current site plans/sections

Wednesday, March 7th

Desk Crits

Friday, March 9th

Work Day

DELIVERABLES: Review March 12th

Site Analysis Diagrams (Illustrator)
Concept/Parti Diagrams (Digital or Analog)
Concept Models (Physical Models, Analog)
1:30 Illustrative Site Plan; all site features and proposed grading (CAD Linework, Digital or Analog Illustration)
1:10, 1/8″ or 1/4″ Illustrative Section/Elevations (2-4) (CAD Linework, Digital or Analog Illustration)
Illustrative Constructed Perspective(s) (Analog or Digital Hybrid)
1:20 Site model (Physical Model, Analog) . optional

Cultural and Historical Research
Photo Inventory
Site Observations

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