Every year, the American Institute of Architects honors young architects across the country with the AIA Young Architect Award. It is one of the highest honors that an architect can receive. This year, alumna Ashlie Latiolais was one of the recipients of this prestigious honor.
Originally from Lafayette, Latiolais received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from UL Lafayette in architectural studies. Initially, she didn’t know that architecture would be her main career focus. However, once she realized that she could combine her love of art with the technical elements of architecture, she knew that it was the profession for her.
After graduation, Latiolais began working at a local firm in Lafayette but eventually moved to work at a firm in Baton Rouge. Here, she gained valuable career experience and even received her architecture license. “I did work all across the southeast in the food service industry such as renovating university food courts,” said Latiolais. However, as she progressed in her professional career, she knew that she wanted to also explore another one of her passions: teaching. In 2012, Latiolais took a risk and left her firm in Baton Rouge to accept a teaching position at UL Lafayette. During this time, she also started her own firm called ARCH&also. Today, Latiolais is happy to be living out both of her passions: teaching and practicing architecture.
Growing up, Latiolais had another love as well: dance. As she began her professional career, she started researching and writing papers on how the worlds of dance and architecture could merge. Once she was settled back in Lafayette, Latiolais reconnected with local choreographer, Clare Cook. The two decided to bring Latiolais’s idea to life and collaborate on a project called FRAGMENTS for the UL Lafayette School of Music and Performing Arts’s production of State of LA Danse. Latiolais worked with architecture students to design a structural piece that was an essential part of the performance. “It was a beautiful creative process,” said Latiolais.
After this collaboration, Cook and Latiolais decided to partner again for another project entitled PARADE: Ballet Réaliste. This time, Latiolais would take on the challenge of designing a piece herself with the help of her firm. The end result was an eloquent performance that showcased the partnership that architecture can have with dance. This piece of work also was one of the projects that led to Latiolais receiving the 2019 AIA Young Architect Award.
As Latiolais’s career blossoms, she hopes that she will still be following her passions in the future. “I just want to still be feeling really connected to my work and continue to build collaborative client relationships,” said Latiolais. She even hopes to collaborate with other dance companies in New York to create more dance pieces utilizing architecture. Regardless of where her journey takes her, Latiolais is excited to continue to grow as a professional and pass on her knowledge to her students at UL Lafayette.
Photo: Headshot of Ashley Latiolais