This Trey Trahan-designed 28,000-square-foot building, set in the oldest settlement in the Louisiana Purchase, aims to resolve a number of conflicting demands—bringing contemporary design to a historic context and finding a common language for a program that involves both a history museum and a sports hall of fame.

In deference to its neighbors on Natchitoches’ main public square, the $12.6-million museum maintains the area’s two-story scale and wraps itself in a louvered copper rainscreen that alludes to the shaded porches of Creole architecture. The architects pinched the copper louvers at various locations to create a pleated effect that animates the facades and assists ventilation. Although the modern design raised some hackles when it was first proposed, including a critical article in the Natchitoches Times, it eventually won approval by the local Historic District Development Commission.

Inside the building, Trahan created a sinuous Great Hall and circulation spine inspired by the river channels that feed into the nearby Cane River Lake. Clad in more than 1,100 cast-stone panels (each digitally modeled and hand-cast), the curvaceous atrium connects the museum galleries, the hall of fame and supporting spaces such as a book shop, gift shop, classroom, and catering facilities.