In 2016, Louisiana State University embarked upon the Comprehensive and Strategic Campus Master Plan process, an ambitious strategic planning initiative that included developing a master plan for the university.
The New Orleans architectural firm Eskew+Dumez+Ripple (E+D+R) was chosen by the LSU strategic planning committee to develop the architectural aspects of the master plan, an aspirational proposal to advance and renovate the university’s flagship campus in Baton Rouge for the future. The firm’s three named partners Allen Eskew, Steve Dumez, and Mark Ripple are LSU alumni themselves, all graduates of the School of Architecture. E+D+R was subsequently selected to assist with the master plan for the College of Art & Design, commissioned in July 2016.
The LSU Comprehensive & Strategic Campus Master Plan was completed in October 2017, prepared by NBBJ Master Planning, in collaboration with E+D+R leading the Architectural Design Standards and Sustainability plans; other firms specialized in the areas of landscape architecture (Reed Hilderbrand, where numerous Robert Reich School of Landscape Architecture alumni led landscape architecture design planning efforts), academic planning, storm water management, and more. The university master plan is the result of detailed planning efforts that have established a framework to accommodate the physical growth and development of the university campus for the next twenty years and beyond. The framework, thoughtfully crafted and sensitively integrated within the existing campus plan, serves as a blueprint to guide future growth.
“Designed to guide the physical development on campus over the next decade and beyond, it will provide a practical and flexible physical framework and serve as a blueprint to advance the university’s goals,” LSU President F. King Alexander wrote in the foreword to the master plan.
The quality of the physical environment has a tremendous influence on the university as an academic institution. The master plan supports the university mission, enhances the existing campus image, fosters a sense of physical unity, and provides a campus-wide level of organization. Establishing a clear direction for the future allows the university to use its resources to their maximum potential and continue to foster a vibrant learning environment.
The new College of Art & Design master plan fits into the broader university strategic plan, while focusing on addressing the specific needs of the college. The E+D+R team reviewed existing programs and vision, evaluated academic facilities in use, and developed recommendations for the long-term transformation of the college. The team was careful to objectively assess how efficiently the college uses its spaces, determine what new construction is truly needed, and propose how to upgrade the existing historic core buildings on campus in meaningful ways. The college master plan was created in tandem with the strategic planning process, thoughtfully promoting collaboration between different areas of the university.
“All three of our firm’s named partners – Allen Eskew, Steve Dumez and myself – were proud graduates of the LSU College of Art & Design,” Mark Ripple (BArch ’79) said. “Over the last four decades, have committed our time, energy and resources to helping it achieve its noble mission. As such, we were honored to be involved in the development of a new master plan which will guide future development of the college for years to come.”
Mark serves as partner and director of operations at the E+D+R. He has more than 30 years of experience in professional practice and has developed specialized experience in the management of large institutional projects. As director of design for the practice, Steve Dumez (BArch ’82) oversees the design of all projects. Under his design leadership, E+D+R has been the recipient of numerous prestigious awards for design excellence, including more than 25 national design awards and an additional 100+ awards at the local, state and regional levels. Allen Eskew (BArch ’71), who passed away in 2013, was a visionary leader of the New Orleans architectural community and a founding principal of the renowned firm that he started in 1989. He was the 2013 recipient of the College of Art & Design’s Distinguished Alumni Award and a commencement speaker that year.
“They walked these buildings, they know these buildings, they studied in these buildings,” said Alkis Tsolakis, Dean of the College of Art & Design, of the architecture alumni. “They have a particular understanding and appreciation of the campus makeup, a genuine familiarity with the spaces because they have been members of the LSU community for years. In a sense they are professionals remodeling their own home.”
“We owe a debt of gratitude to Dean Alkis Tsolakis, our dear friend and colleague, for his vision and leadership in this rewarding initiative,” Mark said.