LSU Office of Community Design and Development Receives NEA Grant to Revitalize Main Street Area in Minden


BATON ROUGE – Select students from LSU’s College of Art & Design will have an opportunity this year to partner with preservationists in redesigning a historic main street district in Minden, La., courtesy of a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, or NEA, recently awarded to LSU’s Office of Community Design and Development, or OCDD.

The NEA Access to Artistic Excellence Design Grant will support a series of interdisciplinary workshops that will bring 15 second-year students from the schools of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, as well as from the Department of Interior Design, together with design professionals, preservationists and community leaders. The workshops will connect environmentally responsible design practices with historic preservation and adaptive reuse strategies to accelerate sustainable development in Minden.

“We’re really excited about this grant and the experience it will give our students,” said Marsha Cuddeback, a professor in the LSU School of Architecture and OCDD director. “It’s a natural fit for us, given our mission of community outreach, and it’s a win-win for both students and the communities involved.”

The grant builds on a program that OCDD piloted last year in McComb, Miss. In that program, students worked with the McComb Main Street Association on a schematic redesign of several aging buildings in the town’s historic Depot District. Students have continued to work with community leaders in McComb and are presenting their designs in an exhibit this week in downtown McComb.

In the new program, teams of design students will participate in one workshop that brings them together with a “client” to develop adaptive reuse design solutions for Main Street historic buildings. During the workshop period there will be two educational sessions for the community and a final exhibit of the work completed by the student teams. The students and lead faculty will live in the selected LA Main Street Community for 16 days and work collaboratively with community members to assist them in stewarding their historic infrastructure and raising awareness of the role cultural heritage plays in developing strategies to cultivate communities grounded in environmental, economic and social stewardship.

Louisiana Main Street is a program of the State Office of Historic Preservation in the Department of Culture, Recreation, and Tourism. Main Street promotes the revitalization of small town historic commercial districts, in association with the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

For the community involved, the project is great because it provides access to design expertise, community design, and heritage preservation support that are generally not available to residents in Louisiana’s rural Main Street Communities. For students, it is an opportunity to enrich their education by working collaboratively with community members, and seeing first-hand the value of cultural heritage and historic preservation to community sustainability.

The project supports OCDD’s mission by engaging in community outreach that provides design and technical assistance to communities in Louisiana, and enriches students’ education through civic engagement and service learning.

The grant was awarded to OCDD, Cuddeback, and Frank Bosworth, also a professor in the School of Architecture, in conjunction with community partners Ray Scriber, director of Louisiana Main Street, and Patti Odom, Minden Louisiana Main Street director.

For more information on the LSU Office of Community Design and Development, visit the LSU School of Architecture’s website


Aaron  Looney 
LSU Media Relations