UT Alumnus David Lake and Partner Ted Flato Receive 2024 AIA Gold Medal

January 24, 2024
Alumnus David Lake (BSAS ’77) and his partner Ted Flato have been recognized with one of the most prestigious industry awards for pushing the limits of design while easing the burden on our planet.
David Lake and Ted Flato sitting comfortbly in front of a watercolor landscape

Congratulations to UTSOA alumnus David Lake (BSAS ’77) and his partner Ted Flato, who received the American Institute of Architects’ (AIA) Gold Medal 2024. One of the industry’s most prestigious awards, the AIA Gold Medal honors individuals whose significant body of work has had a lasting influence on the theory and practice of architecture. 

The two architects, who co-founded Lake|Flato Architects in San Antonio in 1984, were cited by the eight-person jury for “repeatedly distinguish[ing] themselves as preeminent architects and fearless advocates, pushing the limits of design while easing the burden on our planet.”

“Through the confluence of nature, beauty, and resilience, Lake and Flato have made sustainability exciting in a way few other architects have accomplished,” AIA continues. “The projects they envision have raised the collective consciousness surrounding our climate crisis while simultaneously captivating a broad audience with buildings that are both beautiful and sustainable.” 

Since the start, Lake|Flato has advocated for architecture that is rooted in its particular place and that responds to the natural or built environment in a meaningful way. Designing in harmony with the land, the firm is known for their buildings’ close integration with the surrounding landscape, prevailing breeze and solar exposure, their use of local materials and craft, and their respect for vernacular designs. To date, the firm has received 15 AIA Committee on the Environment (COTE) Top 10 Awards for sustainable projects across a range of typologies, most recently for Confluence Park in San Antonio. 

An Austin native, Lake received his B.S. in Architecture from The University of Texas at Austin in 1977, where he was a student of Pliny Fisk III. In a 2020 article about Lake, UT Austin’s alumni magazine, Alcalde, notes: “Lake initially struggled with what he wanted to study at UT. Until he stumbled into the architecture school…and found a group of professors who spoke his language. ‘We didn’t know what to call it at the time – now we call it sustainability or green building – but then it was just an idea of being resource and energy efficient,’ he says.” 

Lake and Flato met during their apprenticeship in the early eighties at Ford, Powell, and Carson under O’Neil Ford, whom Lake met at UT Austin and who also believed that a successful building had to be in tune with its surroundings and culture. In 1984, the pair started their own firm and have been successfully designing resilient buildings well-adapted to their local conditions since then. 

In Austin, recent Lake|Flato projects include Music Lane, a 140,000 square-foot mixed-use development adjacent to the new Hotel Magdalena (also designed by the firm), the Holdsworth Center, which serves as a retreat for public educators on the shores of Lake Austin that promotes reflection, thought, and dialogue, Soho House Austin and, most prominently, the Austin Central Library

Internationally recognized and lauded, the 198,000-square-foot LEED Platinum library serves as a model for sustainable resource use and library efficiency. Aspiring to be the most day-lit public library in the nation, the Austin Central Library received the 2020 COTE Top Ten Award, was a finalist for the International Federation of Library Association’s Public Library of the Year Award, and was named one of the World’s Greatest Places by Time Magazine, among many other accolades. 

With offices in both Austin and San Antonio, the firm is an architectural force in Texas. In addition to Lake, several others in Lake|Flato’s leadership are School of Architecture alumni, including Partners Bob Harris (M.Arch ’92), Andrew Herdeg (M.Arch ’92), Gregory Papay (M.Arch ’93) and Brandi Rickels (B.Arch ’96), and Associate Partners Laura Kaupp Jensen (B.Arch ’98) and Vicki Yuan (B.Arch ’05). 

“Lake|Flato’s commitment to sustainability and the emphasis they place on the relationship between the built and natural environments are a testament to the power of architecture and design to advance the public good,” said Heather Woofter, dean of the UT School of Architecture. “We are proud to have graduates of our school who have left such a lasting impact on the field, and we look forward to continuing to educate and inspire the next generation to achieve such aims.”

Above: David Lake, FAIA and Ted Flato, FAIA. Bluestack Media / Lake|Flato Architects 

Confluence Park in San Antonio
Confluence Park River Pavilion. Photo: Casey Dunn
External view of the Marine Education Center at The Gulf Coast Research Laboratory (GCRL) looking into one of the spaces at dusk.
The Marine Education Center at The Gulf Coast Research Laboratory (GCRL). Photo: Casey Dunn
View of South Congress looking forwards the Texas State Captiol on a sunny day, with Music Lane on the right
Music Lane. Photo by Peter Molick 
Aerial shot of the Holdsworth Center on the edge of Lady Bird Lake with green space and a sunset behind it.
The Holdsworth Center. Photo by Peter Molick
Interior shot of the Austin Central Library lobby space with people on the stairs and milling about in the lobby
Austin Central Library. Photo by Nic Lehoux
People reading in one of the Austin Central Library's many light-filled spaces
Austin Central Library. Photo by Nic Lehoux.