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A Look Behind: Remembering Legendary Austin Architect Dick Clark

Dick Clark

A Look Behind…

A Dick Clark home is instantly recognizable for its warmth and introspection, emphasis on natural beauty and timeless design. Clark, who passed away on August 8 at 72, is remembered as a visionary: an incredible architect, friend, and mentor who shaped the look of Austin and planted the seeds for the culture of design and creative professionalism the city is renowned for today.

dick clark austin architect

The father of the Austin’s modern architecture movement left behind a huge legacy of remarkable homes and award-winning restaurants and landmark local bars. Dick Clark + Associates was founded in 1979 and is responsible for numerous influential projects that transformed the Warehouse District and Hill Country neighborhoods. Hangar Lounge, Rain on 4th, Key Bar, Lonesome Dove, and the South Congress Hotel are among many other accomplishments that are now integral to the city fabric.

“Dick was always a visionary,” says Sherry Matthews, Clark’s companion and partner of 35 years. “He was very involved in the person he was designing for, always thinking of the little things that would fit their personality.”

dick clark austin architect

Known as the life of the party, Clark loved designing social spaces, sketching ideas on cocktail napkins with a laugh that roared across the room. His restaurants and homes across the city are an extension of who he was as a person: contemporary, magnetic, and genuine.

“He didn’t intend to change Austin,” said Larry Speck, long-time friend, professor and former dean of the School of Architecture at the University of Texas. “But there was a tenor to what he did, capturing the spirit of this laid-back city and creating a contagious vibe that took over.”

Clark became known for investing his talents in people, a huge part of his legacy relied on mentoring young architects. His office has served as a launching pad for other notable Austin architects — Michael Hsu, Matt Garcia, Jamie Chioco — who have carved their own paths but carry that “Clark quality” in their work.

“Dick had an undeniable influence but he let you spread your wings and gave you the opportunity to be your own architect,” said Mark Vornberg, protégé and now CEO of Dick Clark + Associates. “His hand in the evolution of Austin made it a better place by leading by example and we’ll keep pushing his legacy forward.”

Read more from the Architecture Issue | October 2017