Each year, AIA San Antonio, the local chapter of the eminent American Institute of Architects, honors the best in local design with its prestigious San Antonio Design Awards. Among the winners, a mixture of local landmarks and creative firms, is one project poised to become among the city's most iconic landmarks.
Lake Flato Architects, the local firm behind such landmarks as the Pearl redevelopment and the Witte Museum, swept the Honor Awards, the highest designations given by AIA San Antonio. Lake Flato was selected for its work on Confluence Park, a massive redevelopment project led by the San Antonio River Authority on the city's South Side.
Of the firm's Confluence Park project, the AIA San Antonio judges wrote: "This project was the result of a patient client that gives the architects the freedom to invent and innovate with projects like this, and we should all recognize the role of the client in creating this successful architecture. The multiplicity of uses for such a space facilitates an investment in the community that allows the plaza to be something very special."
The firm's work on Epoch Winery in Templeton, California, and the Marine Education Center – Gulf Coast Research Laboratory in Ocean Springs, Mississippi, also nabbed Honor Awards.
Lake Flato nearly swept the Merit Awards, too, taking home four of the five prizes for projects in New York, California, Georgia, and Bellaire, Texas. Clayton + Little Architects, which has offices in both San Antonio and Austin, received the fifth award in the category, winning for a new building on Saxum Vineyard in Paso Robles, California.
Overland Partners, the San Antonio architects behind the St. Anthony Hotel and Hemisfair renovations, won a special Citation Award for its work on Ellsworth Kelly's Austin, the permanent art installation that opened on the University of Texas at Austin campus earlier this year to worldwide fanfare. (Overland architect and San Antonio native Sandra Montalbo also won this year's Rising Star Award.)
Overland shared the category with Tobin Smith Architect for Box Canyon Studio, a ceramics studio in Vanderpool, and LPA, Inc.'s work on Pleasanton Elementary School in the San Antonio suburb of the same name.
Other big winners included Muñoz & Company, which won the Mayor's Choice Award for its work on San Pedro Creek Culture Park and the Legacy Award presented to Debra J. Dockery, the architect behind such landmark projects as the Japanese Tea Garden restoration.
The Twenty-Five Year Distinguished Building Award, an honor presented to — you guessed it — a building at least 25 years old, went to San Antonio Botanical Garden’s Lucile Halsell Conservatory, designed by Emilio Ambasz.
If this year's winners are any indication, San Antonio is drawing up plans for a beautiful new phase in architectural design.