Lake Flato

David Lake, FAIA

I feel that one of the most imposing challenges that we face as contemporary designers and architects is the significance of regionalism in the design aesthetic.  While we might all agree that a Bourbon Street simulacrum of an urban typology is not relevant when transplanted to Illinois, nor is an Adirondack lodge become office building appropriate in Texas, there can also be a

Ted Flato, FAIA

very fair argument that asks “why does your clean, unadorned minimalist Dutch modern design belong in my historic Georgia downtown?” The reality of regional styles is firmly imprinted in everyone’s minds, whether they realize it or not and new architecture is always compared and contrasted against the local vernacular.

Hotel San Jose

Lake | Flato, a firm based in San Antonio, TX, has evolved an incredible architectural vocabulary that is both new and contemporary, while also utilizing relevant regional forms and materials in such a way that seems to address both sides of the debate.  Their work is clearly “of” Texas, and their use of limestone, exposed metal and wood evoke very clear regional sentimentality while manifesting very contemporary design.  While this may sound easy and logical, very few contemporary designers are doing this, and and even fewer as achieving the success and broad acceptance that Lake | Flato has.

World Birding Center

As they predominately practice in the Texas & Southwest regions, their designs directly reflect that aesthetic, and their materials, especially their use of limestone, benefit greatly from being located within the Texas hill country.   Their aesthetics often speak of ranch houses and grain silo’s, but their forms manifest as bold interpretations of within modern rule sets.  I can’t emphasis enough how important it is for design to be of the place, that is it a compliment, not an imposition, and it an ever occurring challenge in my own work.  I feel that Lake | Flato achieves this brilliantly.


Brown Residence


Trammell Crow Visitor Education Pavilion


Francis Parker School


Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts












12 2011