The partnership that exists between structure and land is one architects have historically overlooked. Buildings have long been planned and designed as independent entities, livable sculptures that testify to the artistry of their creators, and little more. The San Antonio firm of Lake|Flato, however, has taken a different approach and spent decades honing a far more integrated philosophy.
Founded in 1984, Lake|Flato was built on the idea that buildings and landscapes are symbiotic parts of a larger whole. Not just aesthetically, but functionally, perhaps even spiritually. Eco-conservation and sustainability have become hallmarks of every Lake|Flato project, be it a private Lake Tahoe retreat, an arboretum in Louisiana, or a stunning ranch in the Texas Hill Country. The thermal envelope, passive ventilation, daylight harvesting, and water collection are just a few of the strategic design elements that help a structure exist harmoniously with the surrounding environment. The use of local raw materials, such as native timber and quarried stone, is another. To complete the process, vernacular architecture—the local traditions that pre-date modern technology—is incorporated with the latest thermal modeling science to create buildings that are both timeless and modern, traditional and new.
Which isn’t to say that the aesthetic is forsaken. Far from it, as a matter of fact. If the best form is that which follows function, then Lake|Flato has staked its reputation on some of the purest and most elegant forms of all, manifested in structures whose very existence is rooted in a functional cohabitation with the land that surrounds them.