Courtesy Jessica Harrington

On exhibit: ‘A. Hays Town and the Architectural Image of Louisiana’

LSU Student Union Art Gallery, through August 5

In more than 70 years as a practicing architect, the late Baton Rouge legend A. Hays Town designed hundreds of homes—not to mention commercial, educational and public buildings. His residential work resonated deep in the Southern souls of Louisiana homeowners, and many an architect today still emulates his work with authentic regional materials.

Photo courtesy Jessica Harrington

Among Town’s publicly accessible projects was the Art Center of Southwestern Louisiana, now the Paul and Lulu Hilliard University Art Museum at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. An exhibition presented by the Hilliard Museum last year in honor of that building’s 50th anniversary has now made its way to the Capital City, where “A. Hays Town and the Architectural Image of Louisiana” is on display at the LSU Student Union Art Gallery.

Curated by Tulane University architecture professor Carol McMichael Reese, the exhibition uses drawings, furnishings, photos and architectural models to showcase how Town’s work changed over his long career.

The show also features videos of oral histories with some of Town’s original clients and with second-generation owners of the homes he created, highlighting what the Hilliard staff call the “important social element of his work.”

That the show is now on campus at LSU is fitting, since LSU architecture students collaborated with the curatorial team by creating most of the three-dimensional models that fill the space. Students in a semester-long Hays Town studio course digitized Town’s design drawings, then used them to make wooden model elements that were cut with lasers and by hand, pieced together, and painted in vivid colors.

“Town’s popular—and perhaps abiding—legacy is as a regionalist who sought to create an indelible image of home in Louisiana,” says Reese, “and to implant his clear vision in its native soil that he so cherished.”