Design + Products + Trends + People

Intelligent Design.

Can design have “integrity”?

We think so. It might not be easily defined, but it’s clear to us that the work of Texas-based firm Lake | Flato has something that many firms lack. A genuine sense of responsibility towards the environment perhaps. Or a refreshing respect for the traditions of art and craft akin to those embodied in the celebrated work of Frank Lloyd Wright. Maybe it’s their transparent use of materials in their designs that allow us to observe and understand the system and the spaces as a whole, that makes us believe that they are creating something more meaningful than architecture alone. Whatever it is, Lake | Flato has it.

Evidence that we are not their only admirers, the firm has a long list of major awards under their belt, including three national awards received in 2011 alone. “Their work is a transparent and powerful affirmation of the proposition that architecture is more than a gravity-defying plan,” comments former AIA President Eugene Hopkins, “more even than the genius of inspiration.” Still, genius seems like an appropriate way to describe the firm’s approach to green design. Founded in 1984 by David Lake and Ted Flato, the company was built upon core principles of craft, connection to site, and environmental consciousness that have clearly remained a part of the firm’s vision over the years. We love the stunning simplicity of this pergola constructed from overhang, pipe and wire that takes advantage of the empty space between two buildings.

It’s hard to say what first caught our eye– HighStreet has been a long-time fan of Lake | Flato’s work. We were recently intrigued by El Cosmico, a collaborative project between Lake | Flato and Liz Lambert, along with Jack Sanders of Design Build Adventure and a creative team of artists, builders and students. Lambert, the creative force behind this one-of-a-kind communal project, describes it as ” part vintage trailer, yurt and teepee hotel and campground, part creative lab, greenhouse and amphitheater.” Renovated trailers, eco shacks, and traditional teepees offer a variety of lodging options that collectively foster a sense of community and encourage a unique opportunity for creative exchange.

Similar to Pacific Northwest firms like Miller Hull and Olson Kundig Architects, Lake | Flato’s enlightened sense of design translates into an equally enlightened work environment. “People are down-to-earth and enjoy what they do because they are designing buildings that give back to society, in a respectful and encouraging environment,” offers Kendall Claus, one of the firm’s newest interns. “Their intentions are genuine– they make living green a priority, in the office and out.” Cool people, great design, and good practice — what’s not to love?

Sarah Pytlik.HighStreet.Cincinnati

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