Facilities | LSU Hilltop Arboretum

Lake|Flato Architects

Administration and Education Complexes

In 1995, Friends of Hilltop turned its thoughts in earnest toward the construction of a multi-use administration and education facility on the 14-acre site. The search for an architect began with a very specific set of directives in mind.  The buildings had to be:

  • Unique and relate directly with the site
  • Sensitive to the Arboretum’s upland setting on historic Highland Road
  • Respectful to the horticultural significance, and legacy of Emory Smith

Ted Flato with Lake|Flato Architects, a nationally recognized vernacular architecture firm out of San Antonio, Texas was selected in 1996 to develop the design for the building. It was a perfect partnership: “Lake|Flato believes that architecture should respond to its particular place, enhance a site and be a natural partner with the environment.”

The building deliberately separates the parking from the natural areas creating a sense of entry into the heart of the Arboretum. The administrative offices, gift shop, storage, library, covered open-air pavilion, and climate-controlled auditorium are captured under one long roof protecting the open walkways, which connect all the spaces. The building takes its unique architectural cues from the local agricultural pole barns, the formal historical raised plantation homes, and the vernacular “shotgun” and “dogtrot” building forms.

Upon its completion of the first phase of construction in May of 2002, which includes the multi-use administration office, gift shop, storage, Cherry Owens Library and the Margaret Holmes Brown Pavilion, Friends of Hilltop Arboretum donated the building to Louisiana State University. In 2002 the administration building received the Louisiana Associated Builders and Contractors Pelican Chapter Award. In 2004 it received both the Texas Society of Architects Design Award, and the San Antonio AIA Award.

After an additional 11 years of fundraising the Friends completed the second construction phase in August 2013, which includes the Imogene Newsom Brown Education Facility, Beverly Brown Coates Auditorium, Burt Turner Courtyard and the Eve Perry Watson Cistern. The facility will be the first LSU building to be registered with the U. S. Green Building Council for possible Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design [LEED] certification. It will play host to educational and fundraising events and is the final piece of the original 1999 building plan designed by Lake|Flato Architects.

The Bert Turner Courtyard designed by Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects of New York will anchor the education facility to the existing Margaret Holmes Brown Pavilion. The courtyard will provide an important demonstration for best-practices for developing outdoor living space that extends the indoor space into the landscape, and works in concert with natural systems to utilize water and plant resources in a sustainable way. The 2,050 square foot auditorium with a warming kitchen, more than doubles the existing capacity for activities.

The Friends of the Hilltop are forever grateful to over 300 donors who contributed $3.6M to design and construct the Lake|Flato Architects facilities at Hilltop. It is truly a dream come true for our community!

Lake Flato Admin Office Entry to BridgeHilltop entranceLake Flato entrance bridgeCourtyard entrance

Auditorium Kitchen ViewGround Breaking Phase 1Ribbon cutting


The Cherry Owens Library, Margaret Holmes Brown Pavilion, and Beverly Brown Coates Auditorium are available to groups for special occasions, weddings and corporate events.

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