Alumni Profile: Kenneth Gowland
New Orleans, LA
Provide an educational background including professional experience.
I have a Master of Architecture from Yale and a Bachelor of Architecture from LSU. Before going out on my own in 2005, I was with the firm Cesar Pelli and Associates in New Haven, where I worked on an 18,000 seat multi-purpose arena for Tulsa, Okla. and a waterfront park and master plan for the Canary Islands. In the six years between LSU and graduate school, I worked with some of the top firms in Manhattan, including Buttrick White & Burtis, Corgan Associates, and Gensler Associates. Now that I’m in New Orleans, I do both commercial and residential work, with a heavy emphasis on historic preservation
Why did you choose LSU for your education?
I think the biggest advantage of going to LSU is that the faculty members come from all over and have a diverse background in terms of their post-graduate education and work experience. They really pushed me to go out and try to learn as much as I could and see as much as I could outside of the state. We had a lot of young teachers that had come out of New York and the bigger offices there, and that made me feel it was possible to go into that and be involved in architectural work on a global scale.
How did your LSU degree help to prepare you for your profession?
LSU offered the tools to think critically about design, to question the current practice and to “build an army” of knowledge. It was the frequent one on one discussions with professors in the halls of Atkinson, as well as the recommended readings, that made a large impact on my ideas of architecture.
LSU also happens to be situated in an extremely diverse area of the country… unlike anywhere else in the United States. The area’s vernacular architecture offered knowledge built up over centuries, ways to design within an environment.
What current or past research and projects/exhibitions have you done?
We were finalists in the Global Green Project, a competition in post-Katrina New Orleans sponsored by Brad Pitt to design a zero-carbon emissions multi-family dwelling. It was in keeping with the type of work we like to do. Research-wise and project-wise we tend to take a sustainable bent on projects and try to come up with solutions that are architecturally responsive, not just to the client, but to their urban contacts and to the climactic reality of this region. Being a hurricane prone area and an area with a wet, difficult climate we’re focused on coming up with buildings that can provide for peoples’ safety and comfort but in sustainable ways, and in ways that will last and be flexible and adaptable over the course of their existence.
Another focus of our practice is how to deal with modern projects and modern needs in a historic setting. We try to come up with an architecture that is respectful of the historic context of this city without being nostalgic or faux historic. We have such a great history of great architecture in New Orleans and we have to keep building on that.
Please list any awards or special recognition that you have received.
2006 Finalist, Global Green Project, New Orleans, La.
2004 Works included in group exhibition, The Van Allen Institute, NYC
1998 ACBAMerit Award, Mobile Studio Project
1997 First Place, ACME Brick Competition, Regional Library, Oxford Miss.
What are your plans for the future?
We want to keep growing the practice—and it is growing pretty rapidly, which is nice. My wife and I are committed to being in New Orleans through the reconstruction and we want to play a part in it as much as we can. I don’t want to leave. Despite all the problems and all the trouble, it’s still where I want to be. It’s still one of a kind.