In 1949, Mr. Robert M. Coleman, Jr., began the sole architectural proprietorship that is now Robert M. Coleman & Partners, Architects, AIA. During its 48 year history, the firm has evolved into the current organization, coming into place in January of 1990.
The partners include:
Robert M. Coleman, III, A.I.A.,
Gary Gilbert, A.I.A., M.B.A.,
Partner-in-Charge of Design
Dale M. Songy, A.I.A.,
Partner-in-Charge of Construction Documents
Marvin R. "Buddy" Ragland, Jr., A.I.A.,
Partner-in-Charge of Construction/On-Site Services
In the 1950s, the firm began mainly with small projects, including many of the finer custom homes being built in Baton Rouge at that time. Significant commercial projects of this decade were the Fidelity National Bank Tower on Third Street, the Greenwell Springs Tuberculosis Hospital, and the Hammond School for Retarded Children. In the 1960s, Mr. Coleman, Jr., together with his partner, Mr. John Wilson, continued to develop the firm, undertaking larger projects for federal and state governments. Significant projects of this decade include the Federal Office Building and Post Office on Florida Street in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and the LSU Assembly Center (now the LSU Pete Maravitch Assembly Center). The firm continued its involvement with major government projects in the 1970s, including the Louisiana State Insurance Building and the City of Baton Rouge Governmental and Judicial Building.
In the mid-1970s, a decision was made by the then partnership of Robert M. Coleman, Jr., and Robert M. Coleman, III, to concentrate mainly on private projects.
Following this goal, the firm began in the 1980s working on its largest single private project up to that point, the Jimmy Swaggart World Ministry Center and the Jimmy Swaggart Bible College.
Robert M. Coleman Architects was in charge of the complete master planning and architectural and engineering services for all work performed at the Jimmy Swaggart World Ministry Center and the Jimmy Swaggart Bible College located on Bluebonnet Boulevard in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Work on this project spanned a 10-year period and included well over $125,000,000 worth of construction.
The firm sets a high priority on individual architectural and engineering design services, with the goal of retaining key repeat private corporate clients. The Jimmy Swaggart World Ministry Center and Jimmy Swaggart Bible College are a testament to this goal and objective.
During the 1980s, the firm began to work with large building developers, such as The Webb Companies of Lexington, Kentucky, and Tudor Enterprises of Alexandria, Louisiana. Projects completed for The Webb Companies (then one of the ten largest developers in the United States) include 9100 Bluebonnet Centre, Quality Suites Hotel, The Villas Retail Center, and offices for Cajun Electric Power Cooperative located at Bluebonnet Center.
Additionally, the firm master planned several projects for The Webb Companies, including the Renaissance Center and Southbrook Regional Shopping Center. Working with Tudor Enterprises of Alexandria, Louisiana, the firm completed major office development projects, such as the Corporate Headquarters for C.L.E.C.O., located in Pineville, Louisiana, Acadia Trace Office Building in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Deposit Trust Financial Plaza in Monroe, Louisiana.
The firm was also chosen, together with two other Baton Rouge architects, to provide architectural and engineering services for the multiphase Pennington Biomedical Research Center located on a 100-acre site on Perkins Road, east of LSU, in Baton Rouge. To date, approximately $45,000,000 in construction has been completed at this site, including the now internationally known C.B. Pennington Biomedical Research Center and the recently completed Pennington Human Research Housing and Conference Center.
In addition to this major medical complex, the firm also completed state-of-the-art cancer treatment facilities for Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center at Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center in Baton Rouge, the North Oaks Medical Center in Hammond, La., and the St. Tammany Hospital in Covington, La. During this decade, the firm also completed a major addition to the prestigious Union National Life Insurance Company headquarters located on Goodwood Boulevard in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
In the early 1980s, Robert M. Coleman Architects decided to make a major effort to market its architectural and engineering services in the international arena. Early efforts to develop international work began with the firm attempting to secure work in the hospitality industry and several public education projects in Cameroon in West Africa. Work was then solicited in the hospitality industry for several project in Egypt. Although these efforts failed to materialize, contacts were made with an international investment banking firm located in Washington, DC; and this led to active projects in the Caribbean. In 1987 the firm began work on the $70,000,000 (420-room) Aruba Marriott Resort and Stellaris Casino, located just north of Oranjestad, Aruba on Palm Beach. The owners of the project include Oranjestad Property Management (a branch of the Dutch government) and the Marriott Corporation. The project opened in June of 1995. Financing for the project has included guarantees by the U.S. Export/Import Bank for which Robert M. Coleman Architects had to pass Export/Import Bank approval. The firm's second major Caribbean project, the $30 million, 311 unit timeshare development, Aruba Ocean Club, has recently opened Phases One and Two in the first quarter of 1999 with final completion due in Sept. 1999.
In addition, Robert M. Coleman & Partners, Architects, AIA, has also provided master planning for other Caribbean projects such as Knipp Plantation Bay Resort, Curacao, Netherlands Antilles; the Resort at Braziel, Bonaire, Netherlands Antilles; International Medical Center, Curacao, Netherlands Antilles; Cape Eleuthera, Bahamas; and Willoughby Bay, Antigua.
Hospitality projects currently being undertaken by the firm in the Caribbean Basin include Columbus Landing in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico.
In the 1990s when the gaming industry came to Louisiana, Robert M. Coleman & Partners, Architects, AIA, became a very active participant by providing architectural and engineering services to this industry. Its largest project to date is the $50,000,000 Belle of Baton Rouge Docking Facility and the Renovations to historic Catfish Town in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, opening in the spring of 1996. The project includes a floating docking facility on the Mississippi River and the complete renovations of Catfish Town into a 250,000 sq. ft. entertainment complex. The firm is currently producing drawings for the 310 key Crowne Plaza at the Capital to anchor the Northeast end of Catfishtown. The owner of the project is Argosy Gaming Company of Alton, Illinois.
Additionally, Robert M. Coleman & Partners, Architects, AIA, has provided master planning and preliminary designs to Argosy Gaming Company for casinos in Des Moines, Iowa, and Ocho Rios, Jamaica. Other projects for Louisiana gaming interests include the Grand Hotel Avoyelles in Marksville, Louisiana which opened in the spring of 1996, for an investment group which includes local investors, the Tunica-Biloxi Indian Tribe, and Grand Casinos; and the firm has performed a feasibility study for the Louisiana Economic Development Commission to analyze proposals for the 400,000 sq. ft. New Orleans land based casino.
Currently the firm is working in New Orleans to renovate the historic Maison Blanche Building to accommodate a 452 key Ritz Carlton Hotel , a 225 All Suite Hotel, and a 72 key Boutique Hotel. These renovations qualify for Historic Tax Credits offered by the U.S. Department of Interiors. Another renovation involving both the Ritz Carlton Hotel Co. and Historic Tax Credits is the renovation of the historic Texaco Building in downtown Houston, Texas. Work is currently in the Construction Document phase with construction scheduled to start in August 1999. Coleman & Partners has provided planning for Ritz Carlton projects in other locations such as New York, N.Y., Philadelphia, PA., Washington DC., and Eleuthera Bahamas.
Major projects in Baton Rouge include the Baton Rouge Community College, Metro Airport Parking Garage, L.S.U. Wetlands Building, renovations to Hunt Correctional Center, and masterplanning for the Baton Rouge Research Park.