Dick Clark, FAIA, has died. He was 72 years old. Clark was the principal of Dick Clark and Associates, an Austin-based architecture firm founded in 1979.
Educated at The University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture and the Harvard Graduate School of Design, Clark was a prominent figure in Austin architecture. He was honored with the inaugural Downtown Austin Alliance Award for his commitment to the revitalization of the downtown Warehouse District. His fingerprints are visible throughout the entire district, from Hangar Lounge to Lonesome Dove.
Over the years, his office served as something of an incubator for architects who would go on to be successful firm principals in their own right, like Michael Hsu, AIA, and Jay Corder, AIA. Dick Clark and Associates received the firm achievement award from AIA Austin in 2009. Hsu described: “He was a risk taker, pushing a modern style of architecture when it was unfashionable. He integrated interior designers when he was just a small boutique firm, always working towards a complete design. He had wonderful ethics and politics, was generous with his time and money, and strongly supported diversity and inclusiveness inside and outside of his practice. His office was known as a place that mentored and then trusted young designers. An entire segment of those practicing today in Central Texas went through his office doors from the 1980s onward. Dick was never content with, and was maybe even contemptuous of, the traditional mold of an architect. He preferred to be the maverick, to shake things up, and used his wicked and warm sense of humor to charm any room that would have him. Those who knew him loved him dearly. Dick Clark, to me, was Austin royalty, having seen and lived it fully from the 60s to now. He’s been part of its story for as long as I can remember — built the city we know today and influenced an entire generation of designers.”
In addition to his work with the firm, Clark was dedicated to nonprofit projects, helping to build schools and a basketball court rainwater collection system in Mahiga, Kenya, in conjunction with Architecture for Humanity and the Nobelity Project, which honored him with the Ann Richards Founders Award.
Fritz Steiner, Assoc. AIA, former dean of The University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture and current dean at the University of Pennsylvania School of Design, remembered Clark as a great friend of The University of Texas. “He was a great guy. He was certainly a very important architect on the scene in Austin and in Texas. He was a valuable mentor to young architects. He was very generous to the school, and a really funny, wonderful guy. I think his work really helped establish a certain kind of approach to architecture in Austin.”
Friend and colleague Gary Cunningham, AIA said, “He was passionate about architecture and life till the end. During my visit with him in the hospital last week there was a steady stream of teammates from his office there, discussing projects and clients. You could see the energy and spark widen his eyes as he shifted from the realities of health to that of architecture and people.”
In a 2016 profile in Tribeza magazine, Clark described his love for his career: “Architects are lucky because we love what we do, we change things, once we’ve done a project it’s there forever.” Dick Clark did indeed change Austin through his work, leaving an indelible impact.