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Tree canopy map of the City of Austin, Texas
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INVESTIGATIONS: Provocations Volume 1 - Urban Landscapes

Investigations Team: Ashley Hereen, Justin Garrison, Melina Phillips, James Thoreen

How are urban landscapes and urban development related? How do urban landscapes influence development trends in communities within a region? How does open space influence the character of a community? How can unique environmental and ecological contexts be leveraged to create meainfgul and memorable destinations that foster community? How can design facilitate connections and enable meaninful interactions between people and their environments? 

These are the questions asked by our Investigations initiative in the Provocations series. From “ranch thinking” to “city thinking”, Lake|Flato’s leadership in place-making, sustainable design has evolved from its beginnings rooted in rural building projects to focus more on urban district-scale efforts. In 2016-2017, coinciding with the opening of Lake|Flato’s new Austin studio, in the midst of enormous change and growth in central Texas, the team conducted the first step in an ongoing effort to deepen our understanding of urban communities within our region and beyond wtih Provocations Vol 01. 

Diagrams comparing spending on parks and parkland acres per capita across the US and within Texas.

Projected to experience 34% population growth by 2030, the San Antonio - Austin metropolitan region is one of the fastest growing in the country. Coined the next “Dallas - Fort Worth,” the two cities and corridor connecting them are already a significant corner of the Texas Triangle and are predicted to be known worldwide for art, commerce, technology and innovation. This evolution and growth will involve significant urban investments and new developments throughout both cities—giving developers, architects, and many others the opportunity to  dramatically re-shape these urban environments over the next decade. 

This research project examined relationships and factors influencing the built environment to understand systems of urban growth and development. By understanding the characteristics and effects of these systems, we can better predict and develop new ideas for successful future development. 

Diagrams comparing green space in area and number of parks per resident between San Antonio and Austin.


Diagrams showing location and proximity of parks to residents in San Antonio and Austin compared with select US Cities.

Lake|Flato Investigations invites individuals and teams across the office, regardless of discipline or experience level, to propose independent research projects that contribute to our firm's collective knowledge. We leverage learning from inside and outside our professional experience toward the goal of better integrating design and sustainability by exploring relationships between the built environment and human/ecological well-being. 

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