This list includes both licensed architects and residential designers who can both design stunning homes but differ in other services offered. Architects are trained in design, engineering, and project management and have passed a licensing exam. Residential designers typically don’t manage projects and plans will need to be approved by a structural engineer. Whether you choose to hire an architect or a residential designer will depend on your project needs and complexity.
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 has experience designing and remodelling homes and historic residential structures, and is also well known for its infill projects, hotels, retail spaces, and especially its more than 150 church-related projects. Lewis Fisher founded the firm in 1982 and is president and principal. He received a Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Texas at Austin. Jim Heck serves the firm as senior vice-president and principal. Heck is a past president of AIA (American Institute of Architects) San Antonio and the Construction Specifications Institute, and a past vice-president of the Texas Society Of Architects. A graduate of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute with a Bachelor of Architecture, Heck has been designing buildings in Texas since 1976. He is also member of the Association of Consultants for Liturgical Spaces and the Interfaith Forum on Religion, Art, and Architecture.
Fisher Heck has designed two interesting residential projects in downtown San Antonio neighborhoods that are undergoing revitalization, providing excellent examples of how remodel, reuse, and infill residential projects can help transform urban neighborhoods. For the Leigh House in the Southtown district of downtown, the firm designed a very traditional new house that fits into the neighborhood and is a part of it, rather than gentrifying the vacant lot with something contemporary behind a high wall. The two-story home features a covered porch with a balcony and views of downtown, an open main floor with a master suite, and a detached garage with a studio in back. Fisher Heck did something similar with its historic restoration and addition to the Claretian Founding House, a home for Claretian Order of Roman Catholic priests first designed by local architect Leo MK Dielmann in 1904. Instead of moving the priests out of their downtown neighborhood to a new facility, Fisher Heck helped them restore the old building, adding a metal roof, fixing the masonry and windows, and adding 10 single bedrooms with private baths, plus a new kitchen, living room, and library.
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 all the best 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’ beautiful, open, and sunny custom homes is the Cheslyn Residence, a stone-and-glass contemporary gem that has elegant slanted roofs with wood-panelled 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.
Kristin Wiese Hefty
Remodeling Magazine Grand Award,
Remodeling Magazine Merit Award
311 Sixth Street, San Antonio, TX 7821
About Dado Group
A design-build firm founded in 2008, Dado Group is led by Clay Hefty, partner and construction manager, and Kristin Wiese Hefty, partner and project architect. Wiese Hefty received her bachelor’s degree in architecture from the University of Texas at Austin and completed internships at Leeser Architecture and Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates in New York. She worked for Lake|Flato for five years before starting Dado Group with her husband, Clay, who has bachelor’s degrees in information systems and quantitative business analysis from Baylor University. The firm has received awards from the Remodeling Magazine, the San Antonio Business Journal, and Centro San Antonio. Its work has been featured in Texas Architect, Texas Monthly, Urban Home Magazine, Esquire, the New York Times and other publications.
With its “Stanford Midcentury Addition/Remodel,” the Dado Group wonderfully 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 o the interior with large new windows. The most striking element of the redesign is 20 x 24-foot new family room made with steel and elegant wood ceilings, as well as concrete floors and glass covering one entire wall. The “Brown Residence” is a home in the West Lake suburb of nearby Austin that was designed by the Dado Group. The contemporary design features an inner courtyard with grass and a pool, which the L-shaped house, one wing with two-stories, faces and opens onto, extending all of the inside space into the enchanting outdoor space. The 3,361-square-foot space is made of steel, pine, and stucco and is surrounded by rocks and trees.
Craig McMahon Architects
AIA San Antonio Merit Award,
Remodeling Magazine Design Grand Award
15021 Broadway, San Antonio, TX 78209
About Craig McMahon Architects
Craig McMahon spent 20 years working on commercial projects for big architecture firms before starting his own in 2004. He has worked as a project principal for Lake|Flato in San Antonio, as a senior associate for Gensler in Los Angeles, and as senior architect for Murphy Jahn Architects in Chicago. He has a bachelor’s degree in architecture from Texas Tech University. The firm has won awards from Builder Magazine and Remodeling Magazine, as well as a number of Best of American Living Awards from the National Association of Homebuilders, including home of the year. The firm’s homes have have been featured on the annual AIA San Antonio home tour, and in Modern Luxury Interiors, Custom Builder, Architectural Digest, and The American House, among others.
The firm 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. McMahon converted the original concrete home to 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.
Tobin Smith Architect
AIA San Antonio Merit Award,
AIA Honor Awards,
AIA San Antonio Divine Detail Award
120 W. Mistletoe, Suite 300, San Antonio, TX 78212
About Tobin Smith Architect
Tobin Smith opened his studio in 2007 with a design philosophy focused on “climate, culture and context.” Smith is a graduate of Cornell University, and he 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. His homes are regularly featured on the annual AIA San Antonio home tour and have been featured in Texas Architect, San Antonio Magazine, and Urban Home Magazine, among others. His work has been honored by AIA San Antonio and the Texas Society of Architects.
The “Ravine Retreat” is situated around three mature oak trees in a residential neighborhood, and the main room hovers over a ravine and has 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 has 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. Smith says that the new structure was inspired by an 1886 ruin in a nearby town, and it 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.
Ford, Powell & Carson Architects & Planners
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 Architects 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. You can’t even see most of it from the road until you arrive. For all its size, it has a smaller footprint on the lot than you’d think, thanks to the cantilevered decks, which all feature glass double-doors to bring the outside in. The home also fits into its architectural context, being a larger version of regional styles, 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.
Global Award for Sustainable Architecture,
AIA Firm of the Year
311 Third Street #200, San Antonio, TX 78205
A leading local firm, Lake|Flato has been pioneering sustainable design, leading urban revitalization, and creating innovative, beautiful homes in San Antonio since 1984, while also serving as a training ground for many of the city’s other top architects. Principals Ted Flato and David Lake are both both AIA Fellows, and the 89-person firm has won numerous awards, including the Global Award for Sustainable Architecture and AIA’s Firm of the Year award. Architect Magazine has placed the firm in the Top 10 of its annual Top 50 list, and Fast Company has called it one the Top 10 most innovative architecture firms in the world. In addition to designing unique residences, Lake|Flato has played an active role in many urban renewal projects in San Antonio and nearby Austin.
The Lake|Flato-designed Olmos Park Residence is on a wooded quarter-acre in the 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. And of course there’s glass everywhere, and a fine line between indoor and outdoor spaces. The home won an award from San Antonio AIA and was featured in Interior Design Magazine. Big, mature oak trees also surround the 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 wonderful pavilion and dock on the lakes.
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
Candid Rogers started his own San Antonio architecture firm in 2004 after working for Lake|Flato for four years. After growing up on a ranch outside of San Antonio, he graduated from University of Texas at Austin with a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in architecture. A lecturer the University of Texas at San Antonio, Rogers is widely traveled, and he says that more architects should see the Third World for lessons in “resourcefulness.” Rogers’ innovative approach to residential design, developed over years of working in studios all over the world, has won him numerous awards from the AIA and the Texas Society of Architects. His work has been featured in Residential Architect, Dwell, Texas Architect Magazine, and other publications.
Rogers won an AIA National Small Projects Award, an AIA San Antonio Design Award — a lot of attention — for his design of the “Marfa 10×10,” a 320-square-foot, two-story metal hut in the West Texas artist town of Marfa. The unique structure, which is an excellent example of how little space we really need to live stylishly, 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 extends the living space greatly. In his design for “House 117,” Rogers created 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, grey with a touch of wood covering the large overhangs, facing the courtyard. The lower levels have glass doors that open onto the courtyard, and the roof of the carport is planted with native Texas grasses.
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 is led by Jim Poteet, an AIA Fellow, who founded the firm 16 years ago. 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. He has also won awards from the San Antonio Conservation Society, and his work has been featured in numerous publications, including Home Design & Decor and Western Art & Architecture.
Poteet got a lot of attention and online press for his “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 a plants growing on its roof, reducing heat, and the stylish interior is insulated with spray foam and lined with Bamboo plywood. The green roof is irrigated with greywater, and the back of container is covered in wire mesh for vines, also reducing heat. The whole thing sits on a foundation of recycled telephone poles. Occupying the top two floors of a 1920s-era factory building in downtown, the “Collector’s Loft” 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, and the upper floors feature large galleries for the client’s art collection, including one that’s 18 feet tall.
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.
An AIA Fellow with more than 28 years in the field, John Grable opened his own studio in 2004 after working for Lake|Flato as a project manager for 18 years. His work is inspired by the natural world, and his goal is to discover and enhance “how buildings can gently coexist with nature.” A graduate of the School of Architecture at the University of Texas at Austin, Grable serves on the school’s advisory panel. His work has been featured in Urban Home Magazine, Modern Luxury, FD Luxe and many other publications. Grable has won an AIA San Antonio Honor Award for Design, awards from the Texas Society of Architects, and a Residential Architect Design Award.
Grable’s wonderful “Green Lantern” 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 percent of its energy, and it has a green roof that’s irrigated with greywater. The home has been featured in numerous blogs and magazines as an example of an innovative home that doesn’t skimp on beauty. Grable designed his “Light & Shadow Box,” 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.