Architecture Professor Wins Getty Grant to Develop Preservation Plan for LSU Campus

(Baton Rouge, LA) – LSU Architecture Professor Michael Desmond has received a $180,000 grant from the Getty Foundation to study and develop a comprehensive preservation plan for 19 historic structures on the LSU campus.

The Campus Heritage Grant, one of more than a dozen awarded by the Getty Foundation in 2006, will fund the two-year project. It will include an inventory and documentation of the nearly 80-year-old buildings that comprised the original LSU quadrangle, as well as a condition assessment of each one. It will culminate with the unveiling of a blueprint for maintaining and preserving the historic structures, which will be prominently displayed on campus during the 2008 football season.

“This is a unique campus and its historic importance has been obscured over the years,” says Desmond, who will conduct most of his research between semesters and during the summer. “There is a beautiful set of formal architectural relationships here that have been lost over the years.”

The original quadrangle was designed in the 1920s by the Olmstead Brothers and is renowned for its symbolism and classic Beaux-Arts style. It featured an unobstructed view from Atkinson Hall, then the Engineering School, to Foster Hall, formerly the student union, and from Hill Memorial Library, which was modeled after the Boston Public Library, to the bell tower, which was created as a World War I memorial. “There are four divergent architectural faces and they are all representational and symbolic,” Desmond says. “We lost it when they constructed Middleton Library.”

Desmond’s study will include an inventory and analysis of the windows and exterior doors of each of the buildings in the original quad. It will also include an inventory of all the cracks in the exteriors of the buildings, which were constructed using a stucco that lacked expansion joints.

“This will give the University a tool that they can use to help itemize and prioritize the repair of these cracks,” Desmond says.

The final part of the project will focus on the landscaping around the quad. No original landscaping plans exist, so Desmond will have to conduct extensive archival research to determine what was planted over the years and when.

“This will give us a script to work against so if you want to choose different plant materials you have a reference, something to give you a consistent palate,” he says.

LSU was one of 13 universities to receive a Campus Heritage Grant from the Getty Foundation in 2006. The program was created in 2002 to assist colleges and universities in managing and preserving the integrity of their significant historic buildings, sites, and landscapes.