How Lake | Flato uses Miro to create inclusive architecture

As the top-ranked architecture firm in the United States, Lake | Flato knows there’s more to great buildings than crisp lines and slick designs. Sustainability, collaboration, and inclusion are at the heart of LF’s design philosophy, and they strive to make every project fit organically into its place — which includes the nature and culture around it.

Their culture-oriented approach to design makes their work more challenging but ultimately elevates the quality of their results. Because LF seeks to build inclusive spaces, they need to source diverse perspectives from their clients and the communities their buildings will serve. “If we want to improve the way we live and create more inclusive environments, we need to think about how we’re designing space,” explains Allison Peitz, one of Lake | Flato’s architects. “We encourage clients to include wellness rooms in projects so that nursing mothers feel welcome and others have a space to pray.”

To collect the ideas that make their buildings world-class, they run large workshops early on in the process to make sure they understand the wide range of needs each building must meet. “Seeking out as many voices as possible is hugely important to us,” says Lake | Flato Associate Partner Jonathan Smith. “So early on in all of our projects, we have these big integrated design workshops where we bring in all the different clients and consultants to understand their needs.”

To accommodate distributed stakeholders — especially in the times of COVID-19 — Lake | Flato leveraged Miro to run these workshops as part of the design process. Miro’s whiteboard has provided a space where LF’s team members and clients can collaborate to share ideas and build alignment around the needs and vision for a project. “Miro has been the perfect platform to host these sorts of workshops because everyone can participate at once in a usual workshop setting,” said Peitz. “So everyone’s thinking through problems and trying to come up with solutions at the same time.”

In addition to running integrated design workshops, the Lake | Flato team uses Miro to collaborate in other ways:

Sharing feedback and iterating on building elements

Miro facilitated a rapid feedback loop.

 Allison Peitz, Architect, Lake | Flato

In an ongoing project, LF Architect Allison Peitz’s project team developed imagery representing various structural and aesthetic strategies for a series of V-columns that will define the character of an academic building. Beginning with precedent imagery, the team developed nearly 50 iterations of V-columns, shared within the Miro board for review and comment from design team members and the client group. “Ultimately, we selected a steel column with a sculpted concrete base that the whole client group and design team was excited about.”

Collecting inspiration in the field

Because Lake | Flato’s philosophy is to draw inspiration from a building’s current setting, collecting images of the surrounding nature and architecture helps inspire the architects, who may be working across the country from a building’s site. Lake | Flato Associate Partner Jonathan Smith says Miro helps collect such inspiration. “If a client is having dinner somewhere and sees a cool building that they like, they can shoot a photo of it on their phone and put it on the Miro board. They don’t have to wait until the next meeting to bring that image to us.”

Reducing time spent in meetings 

In the world of architecture, designers need plenty of time to focus on the minute details of projects to make sure a building is perfect. Time spent in meetings can take away from this valuable focus time, and getting some of that time back can be immensely valuable. According to Peitz, collaborating in Miro helps reduce time in meetings. “One of the things that I love about Miro is it limits the amount of time you have to spend on Zoom, because you don’t necessarily need to be on a call to collaborate,” she explains. “We have the ability to start and stop, read comments, [and] provide feedback in an asynchronous manner that allows us to use our time more efficiently.”

Learn more about Lake | Flato

To see the Lake | Flato’s team in action and learn more about their sustainable and human-centered approach to architecture, check out our full video here.

Lake | Flato

Lake | Flato is an architecture firm  honored with over 300 design awards; including, the Global Award for Sustainable Architecture in 2013, 1st place in Architect Magazine’s 2019 Top 50, and was named one of the Ten Most Innovative Architecture Firms in the World by Fast Company.

Founded: 1984

Headquarters: San Antonio, TX

Number of employees: 120

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