The Dao of Design

Trahan Architects brings a distinct brand of mindful architecture and humanitarian collaboration to its New Orleans offices and award-winning projects around the globe

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We begin as humanitarians who have chosen architecture as our profession.

— Julia LeBlanc, Trahan Architects director of communications

Buildings designed by the team at New Orleans-based Trahan Architects can be found all over the world, but most of New Orleans knows the firm from its 2006 role as lead architects for the Mercedes-Benz Superdome renovation, a role it has kept for the current renovation.

With offices in New Orleans and New York, the 28-year-old global architectural firm, founded by Victor F. “Trey” Trahan III, is firmly rooted in an artistic and mindful design ethos. The firm’s website explains how this lofty ambition is achieved: “We use the tools of our architectural practice — artistic expression, technical innovation and the mindful selection of materials — in our search for designs that are socially impactful, sincerely sustainable and aesthetically sublime.”

Tackling projects in hospitality, academia, culture, conservation and residential, to name a few, Trahan has been recognized nationally by the American Institute of Architects — grabbing the title of the AIA’s top design firm in the nation in 2019 —
as well as on the local, regional and international levels for its striking and sophisticated, decidedly elegant work.

For its own offices at 701 Poydras St., the team sought to create a space that expresses its design philosophy, while keeping in mind the needs of the staff and the firm’s diverse clientele across the globe.

Trahan Architects Director of Communications Julia LeBlanc says the firm wanted “an open collaboration where each person’s contributions are shared and credited to support the operations of the firm and our clients.”

The 4,591-square-foot, light-infused space presented many of the challenges typical of a large office, but one in particular that will be all too familiar to anyone who works in such an environment.

“The biggest challenge was using a respectful and mindful approach to the issues associated with acoustics,” says LeBlanc.

Guests to Trahan’s offices are likely to notice the circular configuration of the desks. LeBlanc describes this as a signature of the company and “the physical embodiment of our collaborative approach to design.”

This collaborative approach is considered in every aspect of the firm’s creative endeavors and business relationships and is designed to help set the firm apart from its competition.

“We elevate and respect each colleague’s unique voice as an equal contributor,” says LeBlanc. “This also extends to our clients, consultants and skilled laborers who we partner with.”

The clean, minimalist design and cream and white color palette of the office space is delicately punctuated by low-slung, black Barcelona lounge chairs, art by Shiro Tsujimura, Genta Ishizuka, Shozo Michikawaw and Ha Manh Thang, as well as works by Trahan. This Zen-like interior landscape echoes the firm’s equally Zenlike company culture and business philosophy.

“Trahan Architects is sophisticated, discerning, ecologically sensitive, community-minded and engaged as collaborators,” says LeBlanc. “We begin as humanitarians who have chosen architecture as our profession. We wish to serve all socioeconomic sectors of the community, and to continue our practice of ‘Peace Architecture,’ approaching design with kindness and equality.”