The annual award is considered to be the highest honor in American architecture and is presented annually to individuals whose work exhibits a “lasting influence on the theory and practice of architecture,” according to the organization.
The pair formed what is now one of the industry’s first B Corp-certified firms in 1984 after completing their studies at Stanford and the University of Texas at Austin, respectively. Since that time, the duo have distinguished themselves through tireless advocacy for change in the professional ranks and built environment in their home state of Texas and beyond.
The AIA Gold Medal jury says: “Through the confluence of nature, beauty, and resilience, Lake and Flato have made sustainability exciting in a way few other architects have accomplished. 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.”
Significant designs mentioned in their Award citation from the past 40 years include the Josey Pavilion in Decatur, Texas; a chain of H-E-B grocery stores in Texas and Mexico; and the Marine Education Center in Ocean Springs, Mississippi. More recent projects for the Livestrong Foundation and at Arizona State University were also championed as being equally “groundbreaking.” The Gold Medal honor stands on top a long list of past commendations that includes the Urban Land Institute Global Award for Excellence and an industry-leading 15 COTE Top Ten awards.
“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,” Bob Berkebile, FAIA, wrote glowingly in a letter nominating the duo for the Gold Medal. “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 and Flato now join past winners Carol Ross Barney (2023), Angela Brooks and Lawrence Scarpa (2022), Edward Mazria (2021), and Marlon Blackwell (2020) as the five most recent recipients of the prestigious recognition.
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