American Institute of Architects, Baton Rouge Chapter
American Institute of Architects, National
The Baton Rouge Chapter of the American Institute of Architects was officially established, with the granting of its Charter, on July 28, 1949 by the Institute. Charter members, all transferees from the New Orleans Chapter were:

The Institute approved the Chapter By-laws on October 5, 1945. Ralph Walker, FAIA was then President of the Institute

Prior to 1949, the geographical area of the New Orleans Chapter included Baton Rouge and vicinity. Several Baton Rouge AIA members, then members of the New Orleans Chapter, decided early in 1949 that, with the growing number of Architects in the area, Baton Rouge should have its own chapter.

Several meetings were held at Bodman and Murrell's office and it was determined that the AIA headquarters in Washington, D.C. should be contacted to ascertain requirements for establishing a new chapter.

This was done and it was found that the first criteria were to have five AIA members to establish a Charter. These five are listed above as Charter members. The New Orleans Chapter had to give its permission for the new Chapter and this presented no problem. AIA Washington submitted a set of sample By-Laws and these were edited by and approved by the other Charter Members, and sent to Washington where they were approved.

As soon as the charter was granted, the five charter members held meetings, separately and collectively, with other architects in the Baton Rouge area, recruiting them to become members of the AIA. The results were very favorable, so that when the Chapter was officially organized in September 20, 1949, there were 18 new members, together with the Charter Members making a total of 23. This has since grown to about 180 members at the present time. Architects listed as members of the Chapter in 1949, in addition to the Charter

Members were:

Louis P. Manson, AIA, was elected the first President of the Chapter in 1950. Subsequent Presidents who served are the following:

To the Chapter's credit, it should be noted that the annual meeting of the Louisiana Architects Association was held at the Hotel Heidelberg in Baton Rouge on October 7 8, 1949. The Chapter and the Louisiana Architects Association were honored by the presence of Ralph Walker, AIA of New York, and President of the AIA.

On May 2, 1955, the Chapter was incorporated in the State of Louisiana, as a non-profit membership corporation.

O.J. Baker, AIA, one of the five founding members of AIA Baton Rouge, helped set up what is presently LSU School of Architecture in 1949. It was initially an architectural engineering program, which was first started in Fall 1949 with the first graduation class in 1951. The 5-year program began in fall 1951 with the first graduates in Spring 1960. Accreditation of the professional program was granted in 1962. Mr. Baker retired as chairman of the architecture program in 1977, and he passed away in 1979. In honor of O.J. Baker, AIA and his achievements, AIA Baton Rouge organized the Annual O.J. Baker Memorial Competition Awards with the LSU's School of Architecture in 1980. In 1984, this event was expanded to include presentation of all the awards and scholarships given by the LSU's School of Architecture. It is celebrated annually at LSU's Faculty Club and has become an annual event where AIA Baton Rouge members and LSU School of Architecture students celebrate this occasion every April. Indeed this event has become a fitting memorial to the School's founder, O.J. Baker.

In 1959, under the chapter presidency of W.J. "Red" Evans, FAIA, the AIA Baton Rouge Women's Auxiliary was formed. This was a group for spouses of AIA Baton Rouge members. There have been many successful fund drives from sales of cookie molds and such similar items. Funds generated were donated towards scholarships and also dedicated to many causes in support of the AIA Baton Rouge's community efforts. For instance, one year, the Auxiliary collected food and gifts to an adopted family for Christmas.

An annual Chapter design awards program was initiated in the early 1970's to recognize and publicize design achievements of AIA Baton Rouge. This annual event was originally called the Rose and Thorn award for renovated and rehabilitated buildings. This annual design awards was changed to the Annual Rose Awards. Designs are submitted by Chapter membership to be reviewed and voted by the Chapter membership. This awards program was set up to recognize design excellence and not a contest. Designs receiving the Rose Awards are publicized to the community to demonstrate and promote AIA Baton Rouge's membership contributions to the community by design excellence.

Chapter member Charles E. Schwing, FAIA served as national president of the American Institute of Architects in 1980.

A steering committee, under the chairmanship of Raymond G. Post, FAIA organized a Regional/Urban design Assistance Team (R/UDAT) on October 2-6, 1986 for Baton Rouge. The R/UDAT program is a professional resource performed through the auspices of National AIA. This was nearly the 100th R/UDAT study performed in the United States since 1967, and the fourth in Louisiana.

Communities requesting R/UDAT must generate funds and local volunteer time to support this. This event occurred as a result of commitment by Baton Rouge citizens desiring a better community and long range planning for its growth. Participants included many city and parish citizens as well as many firms and members of AIA Baton Rouge. Over 100 businesses donated more than $20,000; and it was estimated that more than $100,000 was expended in professional and support time by key volunteers. The National AIA assembled the 7-man R/UDAT. Each member of the Team had specialized educational and professional practice backgrounds in their fields of expertise. A comprehensive report was generated by R/UDAT after intensive review and analysis of the natural and urban resources influencing Baton Rouge and East Baton Rouge Parish. The report covered traffic, drainage, land use, planning, urban design and sociological problems. The benefits of the R/UDAT study and report continue as Greater Plan EBR and presently as Horizon Plan, both which are comprehensive master land use and development plans.

AIA Baton Rouge has been participating, and continues to

participate and contribute their assistance in Baton Rouge community events and items such as the Fest-for-All, Annual Education Expo, Baton Rouge Food Bank, Earth Day, United Way, Boy Scouts of America, Community Fund for the Arts, and events sponsored by the Arts and Humanities Council, United Way. Members of AIA Baton Rouge dedicate their efforts and contribute their time unselfishly to better their community in all respects.

To enhance and promote awareness of architecture in schools, an Annual Elementary School design Competition was initiated. The design competition draws upon the talents of fifth graders in schools. Prizes are awarded to the students and the schools. This is another example of AIA Baton Rouge's service to the profession and community.

In 1990, Lynn Bradley, AIA was recognized by AIA Baton Rouge for her extensive work with the Baton Rouge Chapter of Habitat for Humanity and for her "leadership and dedication to work to improve our community." She was a founding board member for Baton Rouge Chapter of Habit for Humanity in the fall of 1988. Christopher Whitmire, AIA had also worked to establish a companion program Helpers for Housing which assists the poor and elderly in home repair. Habitat has renovated 7 homes in 3 _ years and the number of homes renovated will continue to grow.

Chapter member Norman L. Koonce, FAIA became president of the American Architectural Foundation. When Hurricane Andrew skirted about 50 miles by Baton Rouge, with up to 80 mph wind gusts, it caused much damage to portions of our city in 1992. While most of the city was without electrical power, the Red Cross called for damage assessment assistance. AIA Baton Rouge was able to respond on this very short notice. Carroll Blewster, AIA, Peyton Grant, AIA, Bill Morrison, AIA, Buddy Ragland, AIA, and Sit Wong, AIA were part of the team effort assembled by the Red Cross that went into assigned residential neighborhoods to make damage assessments.

In 1992, in compliance with the Institute's move to promote and foster a unified image, the Chapter's name was changed to AIA Baton Rouge. Also, this year, the Chapter By-Laws were revised and updated accordingly. Ken Carpenter, AIA is to be credited for undertaking this tedious task.

In 1993 the Chapter hosted the 50th Anniversary of AIA Louisiana (Louisiana Architects Association). Very successful Convention activities culminated in a black-tie dinner gala in the lobby of the State Capitol, at which Chapter member John L. Webb, FAIA was awarded the AIA Louisiana Gold Medal.

In 1993 the Chapter assisted the AIA Foundation in its effort to restore the Octagon Building in Washington, D.C. by donating $1,000 toward a commemorative brick. The brick bears the Chapter's name, and was used in the restoration.

After several years of effort, funds donated by Chapter members who are LSU Alumni were formally donated to the LSU Architectural Foundation. This 1993 donation was dedicated to the memory of O.J. Baker, AIA, one of the original members of the Chapter who also helped found what is now the LSU School of Architecture.

Also in 1993, AIA Baton Rouge began its own CADD User's Group, in response to the ever-increasing use of computers by member firms. Early 1994, the Chapter was honored to have its second member be elected to the national presidency of the American Institute of Architects. Raymond G. "Skipper" Post, FAIA was elected Vice President/President Elect of the AIA at the annual national convention. Skipper assumed presidency of the AIA in 1996.

On July 15, 1999, the Chapter held a 50th Anniversary black tie gala at the Governor's Mansion In Baton Rouge. Mayor Tom Ed McHugh and his wife were included in the 150 attendees. Also in 1999, our former Baton Rouge Chapter Member, Norman L. Koonce, FAIA, became the CEO of AIA National.

In November, 1999, Trula Remson, AIA was elected as the first female Vice President/President Elect of the Baton Rouge Chapter. Trula's Presidential term began in January 2001.

To date, 10 members of the Chapter have been honored by election to Fellows in the American Institute of Architects (FAIA). They are:

The following members from the AIA Baton Rouge have been honored to receive LAA Gold Medals from AIA Louisiana:

(July 16, 1981. Originally researched and complied by J. Roy Haase, AIA. Updated annually by others.)