OverviewAs in many regions of the urban Southwest, a new generation of residential architects is transforming San Antonio’s neighborhoods with innovative, sustainable, and eminently stylish new structures. It’s a whole new world out there, and architects are leading the way. Part of this new ethos in homebuilding is to reuse and remodel old structures, retrofitting and revitalizing without destroying the unique architectural heritage of the region. The architects on this list are artists with vision and a desire to design homes that will stand the test of time. Many of these firms are also affiliated with industry organizations such as the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the Texas Society of Architects (TSA), and many have been decorated with awards and featured in a number of publications.
Top Architects and Home Designers
Candid Rogers Architect
AIA National Small Projects Award,
AIA San Antonio Design Award
215-1 Groveton Street, San Antonio, TX 78212
About Candid Rogers Architect
An international, award-winning architecture and design studio with a multi-faceted and collaborative approach, Candid Rogers Studio works on projects of various scales for the residential, commercial, public, and hospitality sectors. Over the years, the firm has won numerous awards from the AIA and the Texas Society of Architects and has been featured in Residential Architect, Dwell, Texas Architect Magazine, and other publications for its innovative approach to residential design. This firm was established in 2004 by Candid Rogers who previously worked for Lake|Flato for four years. A lecturer at the University of Texas at San Antonio, Rogers is widely traveled and believes that more architects should see the Third World for lessons in “resourcefulness.”
Rogers won an AIA National Small Projects Award, an AIA San Antonio Design Award for his design of the Marfa 10×10—a 320 square foot, two-story metal hut in the West Texas artist town of Marfa. An excellent example of how little space we really need to live stylishly, the unique structure is made of a metal box stacked on top of and overhanging a smaller metal box. The top living floor features large panes of glass on one wall, framing the landscape, and the bottom is a small kitchen and dining area—a compact but elegant and functional space. The door to this cool rusted-metal perch opens onto a shade structure outside that organically extends the living space.
House 117 is also another model of indoor-outdoor living. The three-bedroom house extends into an enchanting courtyard with a pool, as well as a covered but open hammock room with a barbeque. The house is made up of three concrete structures colored grey with a touch of wood covering the large overhangs and faces the courtyard. The lower levels have glass doors that open onto the courtyard, and the roof of the carport is planted with native Texas grass.
Craig McMahon Architects
AIA San Antonio Merit Award,
Remodeling Magazine Design Grand Award
15021 Broadway, San Antonio, TX 78209
About Craig McMahon Architects
By taking exterior materials like stone, wood, and steel indoors and filling rooms with natural daylight, Craig McMahon Architects has repeatedly demonstrated its ability to combine traditional building methods with innovative techniques and applications. This type of design method has helped the 16-year old firm gain a plethora of awards including the National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB)’s 2018 Best in American Living Awards’ Best of the Southeast Region Award and Platinum Award. Over the years, its projects have been featured in publications like Stone World, Home Design & Decor, Qualified Remodeler and Professional Builder.
This firm was founded by Craig McMahon who spent 20 years working on commercial projects for big architecture firms before starting his own in 2004. He has worked with various other firms such as Lake|Flato, Gensler, and Murphy Jahn Architects where he honed the skills he gained from studying at Texas Tech University.
Piebald Ranch is one of the firm’s many beautiful residences. A ranch-style retreat house, it has a wide and open floorplan perfect for large parties set around the fire pit and pool. This home has been recognized with several awards in 2018 including the La Cantina Design Awards for Best Rural Design, the Best in American Living Awards for Best of the Southeast Region and Platinum award, the Golden Nugget Grand Award, and the Aurora Award Silver Award. The firm also won an AIA San Antonio Merit Award and a Remodeling Magazine Design Award – Grand Award for a remodel and addition to a traditional 1950s bungalow in the Alamo Heights neighborhood. Craig McMahon Architects converted the original concrete home to a more contemporary open plan, added a master suite and bedrooms, and opened the house to the outside and to the inviting courtyard. A very striking and curious building, McMahon’s “Lighthaus,” a weekend home on Lake McQueeney outside San Antonio, is a tall, somewhat narrow home surrounded by nature and featuring huge windows and big open spaces for up to 12 people.
Kristin Wiese Hefty
Remodeling Magazine Grand Award,
Remodeling Magazine Merit Award
500 Sixth St., San Antonio, TX 78215
About Dado Group
A design-build firm founded in 2008, Dado Group is a commercial and residential architect that has received a number of awards including the 2018 Gold Nugget Merit Award and two of the 2018 Chrysalis Awards for the Regional category. Alongside such awards, the firm has also been featured in magazines such as the San Antonio Business Journal, Remodeling Magazine, Houston Chronicle, and San Antonio Express-News among many other publications. Such publications have featured the firm’s preference for natural materials and simple lines that express the region’s building traditions. Construction manager, Clay Hefty currently leads the firm. For more than 15 years, Hefty has managed design/build projects for the commercial, retail, and residential sectors.
With its Stanford Mid Century Addition/Remodel, the Dado Group transformed a tired 1960s-era home in San Antonio’s trendy Olmos Park neighborhood. The new contemporary design for the 2,800 square foot home opened up the main living area and kitchen and introduced natural light to the interior with large new windows. The most striking element of the redesign is a new family room constructed with elegant steel and wood ceilings, concrete floors, and glass covering one entire wall. The Brown Residence is another home in the West Lake suburb of nearby Austin that was designed by the Dado Group. A two-story, contemporary home, this 3,361 square foot residence is made of combined steel, pine, and stucco that blurs the architectural scheme with the rugged exterior space surrounding it.
Fisher Heck Architects
AIA San Antonio Mayor’s Choirce Award
915 South Saint Marys Street, San Antonio, TX 78205
About Fisher Heck Architects
A local leader in sustainable design, adaptive reuse, and historic preservation, Fisher Heck Architects is well known for its infill projects, hotels, retail spaces, and its more than 150 church-related projects. The firm also has experience designing and remodeling homes and historic residential structures. Founded in 1982, this firm mostly known for context-sensitive, sustainable designs that respect the area, its natural features and the new structure’s surroundings. The firm is also associated with industry organizations such as the American Institute of Architects (AIA), the Texas Society of Architects (TSA), and Downtown Alliance San Antonio.
Currently, the firm is led by president Mark Navarro. A LEED-accredited professional with a membership in the AIA, the San Antonio Conservation Society, and Mission Heritage Partners, Navarro specializes in sustainable urbanism, master planning, and religious architecture. Over the years, he has worked on a variety of projects ranging from $50,000 to $2 billion.
The Barrera Townhouse or Trivaca is one of the firm’s most notable residential projects. Located in a unique, triangle-shaped property within San Antonio’s historic Lavaca neighborhood, Trivaca consists of four two-story modern townhouses designed by four individual architects. A contemporary reflection of the many historic homes surrounding it, these modern homes make use of various materials including wood, steel, and stucco. Another great project is the firm’s restoration work on the Hamilton house which shows the firm’s ability in historic restorations. Alongside the rebuilding and refinishing of the entire home, all new lighting and mechanical systems were installed throughout the house. A 670-square foot addition was also built into the rear of the property to add another bedroom suite.
Ford, Powell & Carson
Texas Historical Commission Award for Preservation of Historic Architecture,
San Antonio Conservation Society Building Awards
1138 E. Commerce Street, San Antonio, TX 78205
About Ford, Powell & Carson Architects & Planners
One of San Antonio’s oldest architecture firms, Ford, Powell & Carson opened in the 1930s. The firm has seven principals. An AIA Fellow, Chairman Chris Carson has a master’s degree in architecture from the University of Texas at Arlington. Partner and Principal Carolyn Peterson, also an AIA Fellow, is a renowned expert in historic restoration and has worked on the Alamo Mission. She graduated from the University of Texas Austin and received the Texas Historical Commission Award for Preservation of Historic Architecture. The firm has received numerous honors, including from the San Antonio Conservation Society and the Texas Society of Architects.
Ford, Powell & Carson designed the 8,000 square foot Texas Hill Country Home to fit seamlessly into its beautiful, natural setting. For all its size, the home has a smaller footprint on the lot due to the cantilevered decks which all feature glass double-doors to bring the outside indoors. Being a larger version of regional styles, the home also fits into its architectural context with its weathered wood and local stone and metal roof. Another project that brings a touch of contemporary elegance and style to traditional rural-Texas structures is the design for the Brazerton Bunkhouse—one of three structures the firm has designed for the Comanche Creek Ranch near Hunt, Texas. The simple steel-and-wood, two-story structure is situated on a ridge overlooking a valley crowded with oak trees in the Texas hill country.
7900 Callaghan Rd. Suite #126, San Antonio, TX 78229
About Franklin Architect
Established in 2008 by Paul Franklin, Franklin Architect is a straightforward architecture firm that relies on actively listening to the client’s wishes and asking vital questions to gather the information that can create a new and unique home. The firm has completed a number of projects that have gained it features in the San Antonio Express-News. Its most notable might be the Newbury Residence in Terrell Hills. A mid-century home, this project gained an additional guest room/studio in its property. An addition that offers an abundance of natural light which bounces off the interior light-colored brick and walls, the back of the studio is paneled with cork and opens up to reveal vertical and flat storage for art as well as shelves for linen. When converted into a guest space, the middle section of the cork wall folds out into a queen-sized Murphy bed while a leather couch in a nook doubles as another bed while a small, built-in desk doubles as a workplace. While this addition is minimalist in decor, its interior design connects back to the main house which is comfortably and eclectically decorated with heirlooms and art.
JMS Architects Inc.
Expertise Best Architects in San Antonio,
2318 San Pedro, Suite 1, San Antonio, TX 78212
About JMS Architects Inc.
Founded in 1999 and led by Joseph and Mardi Smith, JMS Architects uses sustainable practices to design residential, offices, retail, restaurants, and other commercial projects. Their homes are regularly featured on the annual AIA San Antonio home tour, and they were recently a finalist for the HGTV Outdoor Awards. The firm’s work has been featured in Home Design & Decor, San Antonio Magazine, and other publications. Joseph Smith, the firm’s lead architect, is a LEED Accredited designer. He graduated from the University of Texas at Arlington with a bachelor’s degree in architecture. Mardi Smith, the firm’s president, graduated from UT Arlington with a degree in interior design.
JMS Architects designed a breathtaking 4,200 square foot home, “11 Tilbury Lane,” in a northside neighborhood. Made with metal panels, steel frames, and native stone—like many upscale custom homes in San Antonio—the Tilbury Lane project features an amazing indoor-outdoor plan, a hidden courtyard, and large windows looking out on a pool area. Another one of JMS Architects’s beautiful, open, and sunny custom homes is the Cheslyn Residence, a stone-and-glass contemporary gem that has elegant slanted roofs with wood-paneled overhangs, a tall stone entryway, and long rectangular black steel-framed windows. The main living areas open onto a large pool and shady patio area for outdoor living and entertaining.
John Grable Architects Inc.
AIA San Antonio Honor Award for Design,
Residential Architect Design Award
222 Austin Highway #1, San Antonio, TX 78209
About John Grable Architects Inc.
Articulating purity and simplicity, John Grable Architects Inc.’s designs are known for celebrating life through projects that celebrate the relationship between man and nature. This design ethic has gained the firm recognition from publications like Wood Architecture Today, Luxe Interiors + Design, CASA San Antonio, Urban Home Magazine, and Home Design and Decor among many others. Alongside such features, the firm also has a collection of awards that includes the 2018 Luxe Red Design Awards’ National and Regional Award, the 2014 Custom Home Design Awards’ Green Merit Award, and the 2013 Residential Architect Design Outbuilding Merit Award. This award-winning and highly reputable firm is currently managed by John Grable, an AIA Fellow with more than 28 years in the field. With a keen understanding of how buildings can gently coexist with nature, Grable has completed award-winning work that comes out of his experience as a designer, builder, developer, and teacher.
John Grable Architects wonderful Green Lantern residence is a 4,000 square-foot contemporary house in the Alamo Heights neighborhood with a host of green-design features. The stylish home uses photovoltaic panels to offset some 67% of its energy, and it has a green roof that’s irrigated with greywater. As an example of an innovative home that doesn’t lack beauty, the residence has been featured in numerous blogs and magazines. The firm also designed the Light & Shadow Box residence—a 3,000 square-foot home in San Antonio’s Cottage District with an open plan that echoes the neighborhood’s historic cottages. The home features a two-way fireplace in the living room which merges through open glass doors with the walled courtyard and pool area.
Global Award for Sustainable Architecture,
AIA Firm of the Year
311 Third Street #200, San Antonio, TX 78205
Known for being the training ground for many of the city’s other top architects, Lake|Flato has been pioneering sustainable design, leading urban revitalization, and creating innovative and beautiful homes in San Antonio since 1984. Architect Magazine has placed the firm in the Top 10 of its annual Top 50 list, and Fast Company called it one of the Top 10 most innovative architecture firms in the world. Over the years, the firm has collected over 300 design awards including the Global Award for Sustainable Architecture and AIA’s Firm of the Year award. In addition to designing unique, award-winning residences, Lake|Flato has played an active role in many urban renewal projects in San Antonio and nearby Austin. Alongside a team of over 100 employees—which includes 50 registered architects, 42-LEED accredited professionals, and a sustainability manager—the firm is also managed by principals and co-founders Ted Flato and David Lake. Flato has been repeatedly recognized for conserving energy and natural resources while creating healthy build environments; Lake is known for being an advocate of urban development.
The Lake|Flato-designed Olmos Park Residence is on a wooded quarter-acre lot in an up-scale San Antonio neighborhood. The long, narrow house—all stonework and steel—sits within the trees and has private courtyards around the little oak forest. Details include stone arches and concrete vaults made from recycled oil drums. To create a line between the indoor and outdoor spaces, glass materials have been utilized. The home won an award from San Antonio AIA and was featured in Interior Design Magazine. Big, mature oak trees also surround the firm’s Hog Pen Creek Residence near Lake Austin. The striking, open house made of wood and metal and glass is L-shaped and features a boardwalk between the structures, descending down a hillside and ending at a wonderful pavilion and a dock on the lakes.
Poteet Architects LP
AIA San Antonio Merit Award,
AIA Honor Awards,
AIA San Antonio Citation Awards
1114 S. Mary’s Street, San Antonio, TX 78210
About Poteet Architects LP
Focused on sustainable design and rebuilding and revitalizing downtown San Antonio, Poteet Architects has a portfolio of projects for the residential, institutional, and commercial sectors. It is best known for its sensitive adaptive reuse of existing buildings, and a fresh, rigorous approach to modern interior design. Over time, this design approach has gained the firm several awards including the 2016 AIA San Antonio Special Recognition award, the Builder’s Choice/Custom Home Citation Award, and the 2014 AIA San Antonio Merit Award. Many of the firm’s works have also been featured in numerous publications, including Home Design & Decor, Texas Architect, and Western Art & Architecture. Poteet Architects LP was founded in 1998 by Jim Poteet. An AIA Fellow, Poteet graduated from Yale University and has a Master of Architecture from the University of Texas. He has won Design Awards from the Texas Society of Architects, and Honor, Merit, and Citation Awards from AIA San Antonio.
Poteet Architects LP got a lot of attention and online press for the Container Guest House—a project for a client who wanted to experiment with shipping containers. The long, narrow repurposed shipping container has been transformed with a wall of windows that opens the small space to the outside, extending the living area. The container has plants growing on its roof to reduce heat while the stylish interior is insulated with spray foam and lined with Bamboo plywood. The green roof is irrigated with greywater, and the back of the container is covered in wire mesh for vines that also serve as heat reducers. The whole structure sits on a foundation of recycled telephone poles. Downtown, the Collector’s Loft occupies the top two floors of a 1920s-era factory building and is a fantastic example of the creative and upscale reuse of urban commercial spaces for innovative and unforgettable residential projects. Inside the completely remodeled building, everything is white, making the dramatic splashes of red, yellow, and blue all the more dramatic. Natural light comes in through skylights since the upper floors function as a large gallery for the client’s art collection, including one that’s 18 feet tall.
Richard Mogas Architecture
317 Lexington Ave, Suite #4, San Antonio, TX 78215
About Richard Mogas Architecture
Established 37 years ago by Richard Mogas, Richard Mogas Architecture has worked throughout Texas and beyond. Over these years, the firm has been published in a myriad of books, magazines, and newspapers including The New York Times. This firm is also responsible for founding Community Design Studio, which offers pro-bono architectural services to non-profits and people who have a need for the firm’s services. Among the firm’s many projects, one of its most notable ones is its work on a historic Monte Vista home. Co-designed with Sunshine Thacker, the home’s addition is clad in dark-stained cedar siding above and glass below. It also features a large downstairs living room that looks out over a pool and an adjacent courtyard with a fireplace. This home has been featured in San Antonio Express-News. Another great example of the firm’s work is the Rio Grande Valley II residence. A three-story home with a modern façade, it makes use of an open floor plan that blurs the boundaries between the exterior and interior with tall, floor to ceiling glass windows.
Tobin Smith Architect
AIA San Antonio Merit Award,
AIA Honor Awards,
AIA San Antonio Divine Detail Award
2201 San Pedro Ave., San Antonio, TX 78212
About Tobin Smith Architect
In 2007, Tobin Smith Architect was founded with a design philosophy focused on climate, culture, and context, a philosophy that guides the firm to find substantive design solutions. Alongside city and ranch houses, Tobin Smith Architects is known for designing retail spaces and corporate offices. With such designs, it has been recognized with numerous honors including the AIA San Antonio’s 2016 Divine Detail Award and the 2014 Merit Award. In this same year, the firm was also given the Texas Society of Architects’ Design Award. These honors also come hand in hand with features in magazines such as The San Antonio Express-News, DIGS, Texas Architect, and Luze Austin + San Antonio among many other publications.
Currently, the award-winning firm is handled by founder Tobin Smith. A graduate of Cornell University, Smith has served as a guest critic at Texas Tech College of Architecture, the University of Texas at Austin, and the University of Texas at San Antonio.
The Ravine Retreat is situated around three mature oak trees in a residential neighborhood; the main room hovers over a ravine and features 36 foot wide, floor-to-ceiling windows. Made of copper, limestone, wood, and plaster, with stylish slanted ceilings, the home is dug into the hillside, and the main living areas on the second floor look out over the pool and the shady oak trees, watershed-style roof, and large overhangs. Working in a rural mode, Smith designed the Big Tree Camp for a ranch in South Texas on which several generations of one family live. The newest structure on the ranch, the building includes a contemporary design that stands out among the other buildings which range from a 19th-century farmhouse to a 1920s bungalow to a 60s ranch house. According to Smith, the new structure was inspired by an 1886 ruin in a nearby town and features rust-colored sandstone from a local quarry, a north-facing wall that acts as a windbreak, and a wide-open interior that opens and extends into the outside, with some of the bathrooms even featuring outdoor showers.