Family-focused oilfield service provider Danos takes a contemporary spin at plantation style
Brothers-in-law Allen Danos Sr. and Syriaque Curole launched a tugboat company in 1947. Today, that company is the global oilfield service provider Danos and is run by the third generation on the Danos side. When it was time to create a space for its new headquarters in Gray, Louisiana, the company’s leaders turned to Louisiana native Greg LaCour, architect and principal of Gensler Architecture and Design of Houston.
“They are a family-owned company, and the father was handing the company over to the sons,” says LaCour. “The second impetus for the move was that they wanted to be closer to Houma. Third, they were out of space and wanted to create a whole new working environment that caught up with the times in terms of how work gets done.”
The result is an approximately 60,000-square-foot veritable showplace that features brick, glass and a lot of steel on the outside, and wood for the interior. While the design is far from traditional, LaCour says he gleaned inspiration for the exterior from Oakley Plantation in St. Francisville.
“The use of steel is a big thing for [Danos],” says LaCour, pointing toward the oil industry’s extensive use of the material. “The front porch is reminiscent — in an abstract way — of a plantation house with big white columns. Those columns are the steel. The slanted roof is a little more contemporary. On the back, there are louvers that protect from the sun. Where Oakley has the shutters on the second floor, effectively that’s what we have done.”
TOP LEFT- The great room is a vast meeting space designed to resemble a family room. With a dramatic stairway, representative of a treelike structure, tall cypress tables and low-slung, tufted-leather sofas, the area encourages both small, casual meetings and larger, company-wide gatherings. TOP RIGHT- The Danos logo breaks up wall space with a clean graphic element. BOTTOM- Comfortable furniture groupings are placed on the balcony up the stairs and overlooking the great room for additional, casual meeting space.
Modeling the design after a plantation house, albeit a very contemporary one, also made sense for some of the interior spaces, which employ residential touches. In fact, the family theme was incorporated quite literally into the overall design, inside and out.
“The client sees the company as a big family,” says LaCour. “So, architecturally when someone is new to the place, coming in for an interview or to meet someone, they come in through the front door. Once you are ‘part of the family,’ you come in through the back door, through the kitchen. Family parks in the parking area, where the walkway leads you to the great room, which forces a common path for everyone to walk in — from the employers to the new employees.”
The great room is a vast meeting space designed to resemble a family room. With a dramatic stairway, representative of a treelike structure, tall cypress tables and low-slung, tufted-leather sofas, the area encourages both small, casual meetings and larger, company-wide gatherings.
“The platform on the stairs is where anyone speaking to the family would stand,” says LaCour. “People are below and all around the balcony. That’s the gathering space.”
The platform under the stairs is crafted with rough-sawn pine, wood steps on a steel structure and a net-covered handrail, to represent fishing or waterways.
TOP LEFT- “They were out of space and wanted to create a whole new working environment that caught up with the times in terms of how work gets done,” says LaCour. TOP RIGHT- The table in the conference room was crafted from a cedar tree on the property that couldn’t be saved. Rather than cut the tree down and throw it away, it was brought to Andrew Moran at Midcity Handmade in Baton Rouge. BOTTOM- While LaCour and his team created potential space for art, the majority of the wall space is left open, highlighting the architecture. Two installations also serve as art that tell the story of the company. 2020 Exhibits created the big wall map at the top of the staircase.
“There are seven live oak trees on the property,” says LaCour. “We saved all of them. It’s an expression of nature. The table in the conference room was a cedar tree on the property. We tried very hard to save it. Rather than cut the tree down and throw it away, we brought it to Andrew Moran at Midcity Handmade in Baton Rouge.”
Moran also made the cypress tables in the break room and the credenzas in the conference room, as well as additional items in the boardroom.
While LaCour and his team created potential space for art, the majority of the wall space is left open, highlighting the architecture. Two installations serve as art while telling the story of the company.
“We worked with 2020 Exhibits to create the big wall maps,” says LaCour of the installation at the top of the staircase. “The client wanted to be able to show where they workd throughout the world. Below, on the ground floor in the great room, is the history wall which bears the prices of oil over the years and events that have happened in the company.”
Everything, however, seems to come back to the great room, which is the central and most striking space in the building.
“It’s a space unique to this company that specifically expresses their desire to treat the entire company as family,” says LaCour. To create this nice, comfortable gathering space that feels like home reinforces the connection.”
AT A GLANCE
Company Name: Danos
Address: 3878 W. Main St., Gray, Louisiana
Office Completed: Spring 2015
Architect: Greg LaCour, architect and principle of Gensler Architecture and Design, Houston
Interior Designer(s): Gensler Architecture and Design
Furnishings: AOS Interior Environments
Square footage: Approximately 60,000 square feet
Main goal: To relocate closer to Houma, increase space and upgrade the work environment
Biggest Challenge: Creating an open office space and making the change a smooth transition
Standout Feature: The great room — a comfortable, central gathering space for the company that features a residential flair