Trahan Architects named nation’s top design firm; nixed downtown ‘pencil building’ could pop up elsewhere

Trahan Architects—the New Orleans-based global architecture firm founded by Baton Rouge native Trey Trahan in 1992—has been named the No. 1 design firm in the U.S. by ARCHITECT 50, a national ranking of architecture firms published by ARCHITECT magazine.

It’s a significant achievement for the firm, which tops the list with a score of 100 because of its “dramatic, sumptuous and well-detailed” projects, according to the magazine, five of which were submitted for consideration for the prestigious award. Moreover, it’s the only Louisiana-based firm to win the No. 1 spot in ranking history.

However, one of Trahan’s submissions might raise eyebrows: 111 North, better known to Baton Rougeans as the proposed “downtown pencil building.” The architect previously confirmed to Daily Report he nixed plans to develop the 26-story skyscraper in Baton Rouge.

In an email to Daily Report this morning, Trahan defended including the ill-fated downtown project in his submission, saying his vision will still be executed—just not in Baton Rouge.

“While we do not anticipate that project moving forward in Baton Rouge, we do anticipate eventual executions in New Orleans, Waterloo, Ontario, and elsewhere,” Trahan says.

The other four projects he submitted—the Coca-Cola Stage at The Alliance Theatre in Atlanta, the Moody Pavilions at Laguna Gloria in Austin, Texas, and the Conservation Foundation headquarters and The Ochsner Center for Innovation in New Orleans—are either already complete or moving forward in the bidding or construction processes. 

These projects, says Trahan, represent the firm’s current and future work in several fields: 1) performing and cultural arts, 2) medical, 3) philanthropic, and 4) mixed-use residential, with a focus on “innovative materiality, timeless form, singular expression, refined craft and contextual response.”

Why should this recognition, while prestigious, matter for Baton Rouge? With many projects in the pipeline, Trahan says his firm aims to nurture and attract the large talent pool available through his alma mater, the LSU School of Architecture.

Though nothing is currently in the works for Baton Rouge, Trahan Architects is overseeing a few projects in New Orleans, which include continuing to update and renovate the Mercedes-Benz Superdome—an ongoing project since Hurricane Katrina—while also leading the design for its upcoming transformation and surrounding district.

Here are the top 50 design firms.

View Comments