LUMCON Blue Works

Located in an industrial area of Houma, Louisiana, Blue Works is a new 25,500 SF satellite campus for the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium (LUMCON). A statewide academic endeavor, their stated mission is "to promote, facilitate, and conduct research and education collaborations among Louisiana’s universities relevant to the sustainability of coastal and marine environments of the Gulf of Mexico."

Featuring research labs, classrooms, and assembly spaces, the facility complements LUMCON’s original but increasingly threatened facility in Cocodrie. If the original LUMCON allowed scientists from all over Louisiana access to facilities for research on the Gulf, Blue Works LUMCON is designed to make that accessible to the public.


Houma, LA


25,500 SF

Year of Completion



32 (65% reduction from the baseline)


CARBO - Landscape Architecture Salas O' Brien - MEP Engineer Fox-Nesbit Engineering, LLC - Structural Engineer Terracon - Geotechnical Engineer Sherwood - Environmental Engineer NV5 - Audio-Visual Consulting Palacio Collaborative - Cost Estimating Lincoln Builders - General Contractor

Photographer Credit

Michael Mantese

From the beginning, the client team was clear in their desire for an expressive, exciting architectural solution—they did not want a “research shed.” The client wanted it to "feel like science alive." The design team simultaneously recognized that the project should serve as a “billboard” for the organization, providing a signal to the public from the moment one arrives on campus of the exciting and important work being done within. Cognizant of flooding, an immediate design need involved raising the building, ultimately elevating it 13' above grade.

Early massing sketches explored how to break down the various programmatic elements and maintain a diagonal from entering the facility
The resulting program distribution, with public facing elements ("Learn/Explore) running down a main circulation corridor, and research and administrative elements opposing ("Work/Learn")

Beyond the research happening within the building, LUMCON eyed a future where the immediate surroundings could serve as an extension of their work. A research vessel, one of the largest in the world, and a warehouse that serves the vessel sit outside. Stakeholders expressed a desire for a connection to both.

The design team explored several massing options, ultimately settling on a gallery/'side-porch' option, circulation on the campus side of the building with program blocks behind it to gives views through to the east and west.

Within, a building program prioritizes the intermingling of professional scientific researchers and students by interspersing labs around a central atrium space incorporating marine science exhibits and artwork. The atrium puts learning on display with three stories of classrooms, labs, and maker spaces that directly open onto the central communal space.

Interior design cues similarly took inspiration from the client's work, employing warm wood finishes, creative maritime precedents, like a custom rigging rope corridor divider, and a lively color palette of cerulean hues.

Informal collaboration spaces are simultaneously spread across the building to provide for different types of working environments that complement the labs and classrooms. The space opens directly onto a south deck connected to a new watershed and constructed wetland where researchers and students will hold classes and release aquatic research robots into the water.