Aggies helped

Lake/Flato earns prestigious
AIA Architecture Firm Award

Lake/Flato Architects Inc., a San Antonio firm employing several graduates from Texas A&M’s architecture program, earned the American Institute of Architects (AIA) 2004 AIA Architecture Firm Award.

The award is the highest honor the AIA bestows on an architecture firm, and is given annually to recognize a practice that has consistently produced distinguished architecture for at least 10 years. Previous recipients include Cesar Pelli & Associates, Skidmore Owings and Merrill, Herbert Lewis Kruse Blunck and the 2003 winner, The Miller|Hull Partnership.

“That takes my breath away,” said Lake/Flato principal Ted Flato, when notified by AIA president Thompson E. Penney, that their firm had been selected for the award. “This is impressive, and such an amazing honor! This whole process has taught us here at Lake/Flato so much about ourselves, and our firm. It has been an amazing experience.”

“It’s very rare for this award to be given to a firm not located in the west or east coast or in Chicago. We’re extremely proud to bring this award home to Texas,” said Flato and fellow principal David Lake in a January 2004 letter to Tom Regan, dean of the Texas A&M College of Architecture.

“Two of our associates, project manager Darryl Ohlenbusch, BED, ’86, and architect Bill Aylor, BED, ’79, contributed to our receiving this high honor,” the letter continued. “We like to think that our Texas A&M University roots have contributed to who we are today.”

In nominating the firm, board member and AIA public director, Betty Sue Flowers, PhD, commented, “When I see one of their museums, university buildings, ranch houses, downtown improvement projects, or churches, I have that dual reaction you always have when something is just right — it is both fresh and perfectly obvious. I call this the ‘WOW, of course.’ reaction. I am not an architect, so I speak from the lay perspective, but this is what I, and everyone who experiences one of their buildings, can see in the great work of Lake/Flato.” Lake/Flato’s roots are firmly affixed in San Antonio, Texas, yet they have used their enriching approach to architecture across a vast array of places, project types, and scales.

Located throughout the United States and Mexico, their work ranges from family retreats to museums and interpretive centers, independent schools to universities, arboretums to corporate headquarters. Over the last 20 years the firm has won more than 90 regional and national architecture awards, punctuated by The American Institute of Architects Honor Award in 1992, 1997 and 1999.

The 44-member firm derives much of its success from a talented, dedicated staff and an open culture that honors individual creativity and nurtures teamwork. The office contributes regularly to the profession through its AIA leadership and participation in lectures, symposia, juries, studio chairs, and mentorship of students and interns from across the country. They also lead various civic and environmental organizations, in San Antonio and around Texas, which extends their influence beyond the boundaries of the profession. Their work within their own city has been instrumental in revitalizing the downtown area. As architects, teachers, environmental stewards, and community advocates, Lake/Flato has elevated the public’s appreciation for the architectural profession.

The late architect William Turnbull wrote of Lake/Flato: “They have specifically Texas insights, but the quality of their translation into architecture can serve as a lesson for us all — how a building stands to the sun, how it welcomes the cooling breeze. Nothing sensational or exotic, no visual fireworks of fashion, just architecture that intrigues the mind, delights the soul, and refreshes the eye with its elegant detail and simplicity. Timeless architecture needn’t shout; it is more pleasant to listen to the wind whispering through it.”

Lake/Flato’s work evolves from a commitment to a working partnership with clients, consultants, and craftspeople, who share an appreciation for the pragmatic solutions of vernacular architecture, honesty of modernism, and a reverence for the natural environment. These partnerships yield a body of work that is universal by being unique, global by being specific. The work reveals the idiosyncrasies of each locale and celebrates the landscape where it resides.

Lake/Flato produces architecture that is tactile and modern, environmentally responsible and authentic, artful and crafted. They claim their work, “celebrates humanity, elevates utility, and represents the highest aspirations.” 2003 Pritzker Prize winner, Glenn Murcutt, affirms succinctly: “Lake/Flato’s work is direct, it is clear, strong, and thoughtful, it is an honest, no-nonsense architecture which is rooted in its region. Their work is quiet, serene, and it is a beautifully simple architecture possessing joy.”

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“We like to think that our Texas A&M University roots have contributed to who we are today.”

— Ted Flato
& David Lake,
principals of
Lake/Flato Architects, Inc.