2023 RDAA | Custom Outdoor Living Design | Verde Creek Ranch | Lake|Flato Architects

Ranch culture is distilled to its essence in Lake | Flato’s design for a family property owned by siblings. On their 2,000-acre ranch, the clients wanted a series of independent dwellings that would be “really modest and unnoticeable, so you could drive by and have no idea this is back there,” says project architect Laura Jensen, AIA. Along a bend in the creek, the camp-like enclave was tucked into a clearing between a rocky hillside and cypress trees. A bar-shaped shared living volume and separate sleeping cabins are pushed to the edges of the site, forming a rough U shape around that open space. Staggered Lueders limestone pavers knit together the buildings along the resulting courtyard.

Approaching from a parking court on the south, visitors arrive on an entry path that intersects a mudroom on the right and the bar-shaped living volume on the left. The path continues north to the primary sleeping cabin under a covered walkway, whose discontinuous metal rooflines elegantly navigate the level change. Made of board-formed concrete and Lueders limestone, the primary cabin, parking area, and mudroom are built partially into the hillside on the east. In contrast, the two cabins on the west are structurally light. Clad in cypress and lifted off the ground, they anchor the compound’s lower creekside edge. The main building bridges those two conditions. Wrapped in cypress and anchored by a limestone fireplace, it is raised slightly to allow water to wash under it, but the courtyard side was infilled with a few feet of earth so the owners could walk out. “We wanted to maintain that feeling of walking into the clearing,” Laura says. “A two-horse barn is at one end, and a ha-ha wall preserves the view across the clearing.” 

Lake | Flato’s elastic design provides both intimate and expansive zones. “They didn’t want oversized spaces, but something that would feel comfortable for two people or a giant crowd,” Laura says. “We made sure the spaces were scaled cozily for a smaller group. Everything is pushed outside to the porches and courtyard if they have a party.” Guests gravitate to the game room and a large screened porch that form an L off the living volume. From there, you can see down the creek to the lake.

Natural materials such as exposed Douglas fir framing, oak floors, and cypress interior walls and cabinetry imbue the buildings with an almost primitive quality. Countertops have integral concrete sinks, and all the baths have the same fixtures, lending a quietness to the whole. “The buildings belong to their places so strongly,” a judge said appreciatively.

Honor Award 

Custom Outdoor Living Design

Lake | Flato Architects
Verde Creek Ranch
Center Point, Texas

Project Credits

Architect: Ted Flato, FAIA, principal in charge; Laura Kaupp Jensen, AIA, project manager; Megan Toma, AIA, Camille Lane, and Sam Xu, AIA, project designers, Lake | Flato Architects, San Antonio, Texas

Builder: Duecker Construction, Stonewall, Texas

Interior designer: Schooler, Kellogg & Co., Dallas

Landscape architect: Studio Outside, Dallas

Project size: 4,159 square feet (3,861 conditioned)

Site size: 2,000 acres

Construction cost: Withheld

Photography: Casey Dunn

Key Products

Bath Ventilation: Panasonic

Cabinetry/Millwork: Custom cypress

Cabinetry and door hardware: Rocky Mountain Hardware

Cladding: Cypress, Lueders limestone

Cooking ventilation: Vent-A-Hood

Cooktop/range/outdoor grill/Specialty Appliances: Wolf

Countertops: Custom concrete by Newbold Stone

Dishwasher: Bosch

Faucets: Kallista

Foundation: Concrete

Home control: Lutron

Humidity control equipment: Ultra Aire by Santa Fe

HVAC systems: Mitsubishi

Icemaker/Refrigerator/Wine Cooling: Sub-Zero

Insulation: Benjamin Obdyke HydroGap drainable housewrap

Lighting: BK Lighting, USAI, Optic Arts, Tech Lighting, Schoolhouse Electric

Lighting control: Lutron

Paints/stains/coatings: Valhalla, Cabot

Pavers: Oklahoma Stone

Photovoltaics: Hanwha PV, Tesla batteries

Roofing: Galvalume 

Sinks: Julien, Franke, custom concrete by Newbold Stone

Toilets: TOTO

Tubs: Americh

Washer/dryer: Whirlpool

Window shading: Lutron Palladiom

Window wall systems: Solar Innovations

Windows: Custom wood by Dover Millwork