Whether you’re obsessed with building design or not, there are some architects whose fame has elevated them into the vernacular of the everyday. There’s Frank Lloyd Wright. Zaha Hadid. Frank Gehry. And for people in South Louisiana and beyond, there’s A. Hays Town.
The homes and buildings he designed are scattered throughout the state and are easily recognizable, even to the untrained eye. And his distinctive style, which draws much of its inspiration from the past, has come to define what people refer to as a classic Louisiana home.
“He is the most well-known architect in contemporary times in our region,” explains Institute of Classical Architecture & Art Louisiana Chapter president Kevin Harris. “Architects all over the world are inspired by his designs.”
It is for this reason that the ICAA Louisiana Chapter decided to give its newly established awards program his name. The inaugural A. Hays Town Awards will honor established and up-and-coming architects, designers and craftspeople and their projects that preserve the tenants of classical design, just as Town’s own projects continue to today.
“There’s something about classical architecture that tends to resonate with people,” explains Andrea Thigpen, ICAA Louisiana’s awards committee chair. “Traditional and classical elements strike at our core. Even if it’s just a small detail, it grabs us, and it makes the overall outcome more effective.”
This year’s winners will be announced at a New Orleans ceremony on June 17 at Latrobe’s on Royal. However, Thigpen, Harris and their team have designs on much more than a simple reception honoring the winners.
“We’re planning a full weekend to indulge everyone and celebrate classical architecture,” Thigpen says. “There will be a series of cocktail parties, but we will also have an exclusive French Quarter tour on Saturday morning that will take visitors inside some amazing spaces.”
The tour will include stops at Marble Hall in the U.S. Custom House, Casa Finard, Pedesclaux-Lemonnier House, and the Lower Pontalba apartment building, giving attendees a closer look at some of New Orleans’ most iconic spaces while educating them on the elements that make these structures so memorable.
“Above all else, we have a goal to teach people and educate them on classical architecture,” Harris says. “You learn a city’s values through its architecture. It’s a record of what’s important to the people who live there. That’s why it’s important to preserve these buildings and encourage new talent to do the same.”
Tickets to the A. Hays Town Awards ceremony and information about the rest of the weekend’s events are available at classicist.org/honors/a-hays-town-awards.