Whitney LeJeune, AIA LEED AP, LSU graduate, hometown – Houma LA

As a student at LSU, I worked for a couple of Baton Rouge firms while in school.  After graduation in 1992, I continued to work for Post Architects for 15 years managing staff and large projects.  In 2007 I joined RHH Architects where I am an associate and project manager.  I have worked on many types of projects – education, ecclesiastical, commercial, research and institutional. Specialties include daycare and K-5 schools.

I am a wife and mother of two beautiful children, 15 & 19.  My family is a gift as well as the greatest accomplishment in my life.

Why did you choose architecture as a profession?

In the 5th grade my parents built their own home providing much of the labor themselves.  I found a love for architecture and designed house after house on loose leaf paper.  In high school, I started reading and collecting literature about architects and applied to LSU to start my journey.  I’ve never considered any other profession.

Do you have a special routine/habit you may do to get creative juices flowing?

Nature has always inspired me.  Taking a break from the computer or office environment where I can find a sunny spot to sketch and think about the “big idea” for a project usually helps me find a unique approach in the design process.

What type of projects do you like to take on?

I have always enjoyed working for a new type of client, a profession or building type where I have no history or prior knowledge.  I enjoy learning about how they work and what type of environment they envision.  If we really listen, I think that is where we can be creative and help clients to reach their vision in new and exciting ways.

Best project, most unique/favorite project?

Just recently, I was the project architect for the LSU AgCenter Greenhouse relocation.  This a premier facility for the AgCenter relocating all their research labs/greenhouse spaces off campus.  Working with a greenhouse consultant I learned so much about very sophisticated controls and monitoring systems that gives the AgCenter the ability to complete at the highest level.  Albeit, this is a very utilitarian building, it is still quite beautiful in the way the structure and systems are all exposed and organized.   The design process and experience with this client was unique and enjoyable.  Sometimes it is not the resulting architecture that makes a difference but the occupants.

What is the strangest thing that ever happened on a job?

Funnier than strange, but on a current daycare project we needed a little extra space for plumbing in a child size sink cabinet, so the contractor cut an opening in the bottom of the cabinet.  The Owner decided they wanted a drip pan “just in case” at the opening.  They went to Walmart and bought two dozen 9×12 baking pans and had the contractor cut the opening to fit.  This is genius and did not cause a change order!

What do you do after a hard day at work to unwind?

I love to cook for my family.  My husband also participates by grilling quite often mid-week. My kids are getting older with one off at college and I miss the family dinners.

If you could have any other job what would it be?

I have always loved my job and the people I work with, but if I could do anything else it would be to have an art studio.  I would love to create sculpture from mixed mediums.  Honestly, I have never pursued this interest but there is always retirement!

If you could have dinner with anyone dead or alive, who would it be and why?

My first choice for a dinner companion would be my dad.  He is the head of the family providing loving guidance to us all.  He leads by example and we are so lucky to have him.  I’m calling him now to set up a dinner for just the two of us!  I don’t travel the 80 miles home near enough.

What is your favorite way to spend your time?

I love reading historic fiction, especially outdoors when this Louisiana weather will cooperate.