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David Lake and Ted Flato, founders of Texas studio Lake|Flato Architects, have been named as the joint recipients of the 2024 AIA Gold Medal. The most prestigious annual honor bestowed by the American Institute of Architects, the Gold Medal recognizes an individual—or in this instance, individuals— whose “significant body of work has had a lasting influence on the theory and practice of architecture.” Lake and Flato, who were chosen by an eight-person jury panel, follow in the footsteps of recent Gold Medal honorees including Carol Ross BarneyAngela Brooks and Larry ScarpaEdward Mazria, and Marlon Blackwell

Establishing their eponymous practice in San Antonio in 1984 and expanding into Austin in 2016, Lake and Flato are no strangers to racking up accolades from the AIA and numerous other organizations. To date, the firm has received 15 COTE Top 10 Awards for designing superlatively sustainable projects across a range of typologies, including mixed-use urban developments and nature centers. “Through the confluence of nature, beauty, and resilience, Lake and Flato have made sustainability exciting in a way few other architects have accomplished,” wrote the AIA in its announcement. “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.”

Although Lake|Flato has completed work well beyond Texas during its storied nearly 40-year history, the impact of the firm’s founders can be most acutely felt in the Lone Star State. As noted by the AIA, the “process, collaborations, and tireless environmental advocacy” of Lake and Flato has preserved public access to more than 50,000 acres of land in Texas—a state where less than 4 percent of land is publicly available. Similarly, 35,000 acres of crucial ecological habitats from West Virginia to Florida have been saved thanks to their sensitive—and often highly innovative—approach that considers the natural environment first and foremost. Lake|Flato is also known for its adaptive reuse projects. In total, the firm has revived and repurposed more than 3 million square feet of existing space into housing, hotels, offices, and on.

Lake Flato

Confluence Park (2018) in San Antonio, Texas. Photo © Casey Dunn

Lake|Flato projects featured in RECORD include San Antonio’s Confluence ParkIndian Springs School in Birmingham, Alabama, and Pearl Brewery, also in San Antonio. Additional projects highlighted by the AIA include the Living Building Challenge–certified Josey Pavilion in Decatur, Texas; the Marine Ocean Center in Ocean Springs, Mississippi; and the Livestrong Foundation headquarters in Austin. 

“David Lake and Ted Flato have done more to change the outcome of the human story through their inclusive design process than any other architect or practice,” wrote Bob Berkebile, FAIA, in a letter nominating the duo for the honor. “Across the country, their buildings are wonderful, but ultimately it is their ability to craft sustainable, high-performance buildings and inclusive places welcoming for both the public and our fellow design professionals that is their true legacy, a legacy deserving of the Gold Medal.”

Lake Flato

The Pearl Brewery redevelopment (2013) in San Antonio, Texas. Photo © Lara Swimmer

In addition to announcing Lake and Flato as its 2024 Gold Medal honorees, the AIA also, as is custom, announced the recipient of another major annual accolade at the same time: The Firm of the Year award. 

For 2024, it goes to Quinn Evans, a practice first established in 1984 with offices in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and Washington, D.C., that today maintains studios in four additional U.S. cities including Detroit and Baltimore. Like Lake|Flato, Quinn Evans, co-founded by the late Michael Quinn and David Evans, has garnered a reputation for its adaptive reuse projects. A major recent project by the firm is the transformation of Detroit’s forsaken Michigan Central Station, a prominent Beaux-Arts landmark that for years stood emblematic of the city’s decline, into a multiuse innovation hub for Ford that will anchor a larger redevelopment zone.  

“Quinn Evans was among the first firms to demonstrate that sustainable design can and must be incorporated into existing and historic buildings, and it continues to advance preservation as a method of social empowerment,” writes the AIA. 

In a statement, the firm wrote that the award “underscores our commitment to stewardship through the transformation of existing places. We are humbled to be counted among the leading firms of our time. “