Bounded by two bayous on the North Shore of Lake Pontchartrain, Fontainebleau State Park is a 2800-acre trove of the natural and historical riches of Southeast Louisiana. Founded in the 1930s, the park includes the former site of a sugar plantation once owned by Bernard de Mandeville de Marigny, remnants of which can still be seen today. With expertise in historic renovation and restoration and deep local roots, Trapolin Architects coordinated a complex array of partnerships, interests, and project parameters in the first major planning project since the park’s formation. The resulting plan is set to guide twenty years of park growth and development, while individual construction projects – a visitors’ center and 12 storefront cabins – welcome and shelter visitors throughout their time in the park.
Responding to the site and local climate, the Visitors’ Center collects informational exhibits, event space, ranger offices, retail, and services under a broad roof whose overhangs create shaded porches. The program is organized in two blocks in a traditional dog-trot scheme, channeling cooling breezes and framing a view directly through the building to the sugar plantation ruins beyond. On the shore of the lake, 12 visitor cabins perch high above the shallows at the margin between woods and water with views oriented west and south across Pontchartrain to the sunset.
Along with project partners Jeff Carbo Landscape Architect, MESA Design Group, and the Louisiana Office of State Parks, Trapolin Architects received a Merit Award from the American Society of Landscape Architects Texas Chapter for the parks’ Master Plan.