The University is located on more than 2,000 acres in the southern part of the city, bordered on the west by the Mississippi River. The University's more than 250 principal buildings are grouped on a 650-acre plateau that constitutes the main part of the campus.
Original campus architecture was based on the Renaissance domestic style of northern Italy (tan stucco walls, red tile roofs), with buildings that house most of the classrooms and administrative offices grouped around a double quadrangle and connected by colonnaded passageways. Architects of more recent campus structures have succeeded in blending contemporary design with the older style of architecture.
The city of Baton Rouge—capital of the state of Louisiana, an inland port, and a major petrochemical center—has a metropolitan area population of around 700,000. According to history, the city's name is derived from a tall cypress tree that once stood at the present site of Louisiana's Old State Capitol marking the boundary between the hunting grounds of the Houma and the Bayou Goula Indians. The early French explorers called the tree le baton rouge (the red stick).
Geographically, Baton Rouge is the center of South Louisiana's cultural and recreational attractions with New Orleans about 80 miles to the southeast. Less than an hour's drive north lie the gently rolling hills of the antebellum country of the Feliciana parishes. The fabled French-Louisiana country of bayous, marshes, and lakes—about an hour's drive from the campus—offers opportunities for fishing, hunting, and other recreation.