New Visitor Center Combines Sustainability and Green Construction with Historic and Cultural Traditions (See our Visitor Center Photo Gallery)
St. Landry Parish, a rural area in south central Louisiana, is now home to a state of the art Visitor Information Center along Interstate 49 at Exit 23. The center, opened in May 2011, not only provides travelers information on the area, including historic and cultural traditions, but it is one of the first visitor information centers in the state and the southern region that has a focus on sustainability and green construction. The building was designed to show how sustainable practices, both old and new, can work together for the betterment of the region. Sustainable features of the center include a water cistern, wind turbine and photovoltaic panels. Building materials were salvaged during construction to reuse for the creation of an art exhibit and functional pieces to be shown and utilized within the center. This project will be completed by area artists, craftsmen and students.
The orientation of the building maximizes the daylight from the north and deep overhangs on the south help to reduce heat gain resulting in conservation of energy. Wind analysis also influenced the building’s position as to capture the prevailing breezes from the south/southeast which will provide natural ventilation and on-site wind generation. Other practices include the use of a hipped roof which is known for withstanding high winds as opposed to gable rooflines; a cistern into which rain water will be collected from the roof and the use of reclaimed materials such as bricks and long leaf pine flooring. Newer products utilized are cellulose insulation made from recycled cardboard and newspaper, Dupont™ Zodiaq® and Corian® countertops from recycled glass and quartz, Ampco toilet partitions from recycled plastic, Tectum ceiling panels and environmentally friendly practices such as photovoltaic panels which will capture solar energy, a functioning wind turbine and the use of FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified wood, have been utilized as well. The outdoor exhibit area and boardwalk feature four kiosks that house interpretive panels explaining the practices used within the project and their relation to the surrounding communities.
Travelers are also introduced to the various ecosystems found within the area. The landscape design plays an integral part in this project utilizing indigenous plantings and trees from St. Landry Parish, reflecting several of Louisiana's ecosystems.
As a Gateway to the Atchafalaya Basin, St. Landry Parish provides adventures where culture and nature blend through enduring traditions. Many visit the area to engage in the rich traditions of the Cajun and Creole cultures, from the cuisine to Cajun and zydeco music. Paddlers can explore our historic bayous, the Teche and Courtableau, and participate in birding, native plant education and hiking at the Eunice Prairie Preservation site and Sherburne Wildlife Management Area.
“This project is an affirmation of how far the travel and tourism industry in St. Landry Parish has come,” reflected Celeste Gomez, Director of the St. Landry Parish Tourist Commission. “We have identified that visitors come to St. Landry Parish to experience our traditional way of life – the ways that come naturally to us – our friendliness, our food, our music, our culture. This venue will allow us to better serve our visitors in telling our story and to ensure that they explore and experience all that St. Landry Parish has to offer.”
The Visitor Center is owned by the St. Landry Parish Tourist Commission, which is appointed by the St. Landry Parish Council as directed through state legislature. Its construction was funded by state hotel occupancy tax generated within St. Landry Parish. The operation and maintenance expenses are paid with a parish hotel occupancy tax of 4%.
ARCHITECTS: Ashe, Broussard, Weinzettle and Edward Cazayoux, FAIA of EnvironMental Designs
2012 Gold Winner, Architecture-Commercial by The Independent, INDesign Awards
2012 Honor Award and the Member's Choice Award by the American Institute of Architects, Louisiana Affiliate
2013 Favorite Place to be Inspired by Country Roads Magazine Annual Readers- Choice Favorite Things Survery
Visitor Center Hours: Monday-Saturday 9am-5pm