AIA Awards 2024 Gold Medal to Sustainability Advocates David Lake and Ted Flato of Lake|Flato Architects
The American Institute of Architects has announced David Lake and Ted Flato, the founders of Texas-based firm Lake|Flato Architects, as the winners of the 2024 AIA Gold Medal. The pair was selected by the jury for their ability to make “sustainability exciting in a way few other architects have accomplished.” Founded in San Antonia in 1984, their office set out to make environmentally conscientious design both accessible and exciting, by finding ways to strengthen he bond between humans and nature.
David Lake and Ted Flato’s approach weaves together vernacular techniques with new technologies for creating resilient buildings, well-adapted to their local conditions. The jury appreciated this uncompromising yet unpretentious vision, seeing it as a way to achieve healthier, more sustainable, and inclusive structures. Among the projects cited by the jury is the Dixon Water Foundation Josey Pavilion, the first Living Building Challenge-certified project in Texas and the ninth in the world. Confluence Park in San Antonio reflects a comparable emphasis on environmental stewardship, serving as both a pavilion and an education center to inform visitors about the importance of water.
The duo has repeatedly distinguished themselves as preeminent architects and fearless advocates, pushing the limits of design while easing the burden on our planet. 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. While Texas, a region grappling with unprecedented growth and climate change, seems an unlikely place for a firm focused on sustainability to thrive, they have nevertheless helped clients see architecture and sustainability as inextricably linked. – AIA jury
In addition to the focus on the interplay between nature and the built environment, technological innovations play an important role in the office’s work. Techniques such as prefabricated structures, as seen in the Miller Porch House project, and 3D printing, used in the collaboration for House Zero, developed with ICON, showcase the office’s dedication to creating accessible yet engaging projects. They have also employed mass timber and panelized construction to reduce the carbon impact of their structures and provide a healthy environment for their users.
Design in all its facets should be woven into our daily lives. We all must seek to build healthy communities and welcoming places that are intrinsically rooted and responsive to local culture, climate, and context with a vision for respecting diverse perspectives. We have always believed that architecture can make us more connected to nature, rather than less. – David Lake and Ted Flato
The award’s past recipients encompass influential architects such as Carol Ross Barney, recognized in 2023 for her transformative and socially engaged projects, Edward Mazria, acknowledged in 2021 for his endeavors in addressing the climate crisis and inspiring the architectural community to mobilize; Marlon Blackwell, honored in 2020 for his enduring impact on the theory and practice of architecture; and Richard Rogers, celebrated in 2019 for his constructive influence on the built environment.