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Firm Philosophy More than a signature style, it’s a shared attitude displayed in Lake/Flato’s projects LAKE/FLATO ARCHITECTS IS WELL KNOWN for exemplary design. Every year the firm’s commitment to producing the highest quality work is rewarded by design juries. In this edition you’ll find features on five Lake/Flato projects selected for 2011 Design Awards out of a total of 12 winners in the Texas Society of Architects annual competition. Those five projects illustrated herein collectively represent a window into the firm’s current output, and also offers an opportunity to consider the question: Does Lake/Flato have a signature style? “We’re always quick to say we don’t, but then we’re quick to add ‘however…,’” Ted Flato, FAIA, explained recently, adding. “There is a very, very understated approach that is consistent in all our work.” David Lake, FAIA, interviewed by phone at the same time, was more emphatic: “We don’t

Brown Residence

strive for a building style. That’s actually the furthest thing from our mind. We’re more concerned with making memorable spaces and buildings that are well loved.” According to the two founding principals, the architects of Lake/Flato share a design philosophy that begins with a careful study of the existing context and almost always results in direct visual and physical connection to the outdoors. “We’re always touching on a larger canvas,” says Flato. The firm’s other architects echo those sentiments, including Andrew Herdeg, AIA, partner in charge of the Arizona State Univeristy project. “In my mind, ASU certainly exhibits a consistency with much of Lake/Flato’s work, but I don’t think of it as a style as much as a response to the environmental context, the landscape and materials,” he wrote in an email

Armstrong Oil & Gas

reply. “The response was to the environmental context through simple but effective strategies that create shade and maximize daylighting and the celebration of regional materials and costeffective building systems. The result was a set of buildings that are articulated differently than many of our other projects, yet ultimately, like most of our work, serves to connect the inhabitants to the natural environment and landscape.” Brian Korte, AIA, the project architect on Armstrong Oil & Gas, wrote: “I think what sets LF apart from other firms is the fact that we do not design to stylistic trends, but rather respond to the setting or context of the project (the landscape or environment). In the case of Armstrong Oil & Gas, this building is immersed into the fabric of turn-of-the-century brick buildings which is a collection of scales and varied urban and industrial character. As far as building elements, the courtyard, the rooftop cupola, and the flap roof over the entry gate might be elements that have appeared on other LF projects, though not direct interpretations. To me, everything was uniquely suited to AOG in response to its context.” After two decades of collecting awards, Lake and Flato agree that their firm benefits from designing a wide range of project types that vary in scale and program. Lake calls it a “continuing educational learning laboratory.” Other architects can learn, too, from studying their work. S T E P H E N

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ASU Polytechnic Campus

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PHOTOS COURTESY LAKE/FLATO ARCHITECTS

Cutting Horse Ranch

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Full Goods Warehouse

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Texas Architect Sept/Oct 2011: Design Awards