A. Hays Town

16 06 2010

If we get to have jobs in heaven, I want to be an architect. I can’t do it here on earth because I don’t understand math, but I figure that problem will all be ironed out; I’ll understand it perfectly there.

But until then, I’ll just admire amazing architecture here on earth. I heard somewhere recently that architecture is art that you live in.

And no Southern architect is more admired than the late A. Hays Town. Born and raised in Louisiana, he designed houses begining at 14 years of age, and continued to design thousands of homes and buildings in the modern style, but influenced by those Southern roots.

His first job after graduating from Tulane was in Jackson, Mississippi with the Overstreet firm. During his time in Mississippi, Town was influenced by the symmetry and proportion of antebellum homes in the area, as well as the American colonial style.

While his early carreer was dominated primarily with schools, offices, churches and shopping centers, he focused on dwellings later in his life, incorporating French and Spanish styles that have come to be synonomous with the look of Louisiana. He did recycling before “recycling” was cool — incorporating found pieces and salvaged elements into his design. Focusing on details to the extreme, he even went so far as to suggest a type of dog for the owners once the house was finished that might go best with the style of the home.

But his true genius, in my opinion, is that he took his climate into consideration. Like perhaps no other architect could, Town knew the warm (ok, hot… let’s call it like it is) weather of the South. He designed breezeways, window and doors to maximize air circulation and air ventalation, and large roof overhangs for shade.

His work has been featured in Southern Living, Life, Southern Accents, Veranda… and others. One of my favorite tidbits of Mr. Town’s life? He was married to the same woman his entire life (have to love that in today’s world!).  Now, Mr. Town’s son and grandson continue to carry on the tradition of designing and building in the style of what this visionary architect began.

Take a look at this beautiful book of some of Town’s Louisiana homes, or if you’re in the area, drive around, especially if you are near Baton Rouge, the greatest concentration of his residential works. Look for the Hays Town Architechtural marker.




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