The Influentials
Dick Clark

The modernist architect shaping Austin's design aesthetic

Dick Clark: Modernist architect shaping Austin's aesthetic

Influentials Dick Clark Architect
Photo by Jessica Pages

One can imagine that Dick Clark was born hammer in hand. A lover of architecture since his earliest days, Clark’s work has been an integral part of the Austin design aesthetic for over three decades.

A self-identified modernist, Dick Clark’s contemporary style is witnessed in countless Austin spaces, from residential work to iconic Austin facades, encompassing restaurants, bars, boutique hotels and retail spaces.

Clark first came to Austin in 1963 as a student at the University of Texas School of Architecture. His study and practice of architecture led him to graduate school at Harvard, then to projects in places as varied as Tennessee and Nicaragua before he founded Dick Clark Architecture (DCA) in Austin in 1979. For more than 30 years, Dick Clark Architecture has been shaping Austin spaces, with notable efforts focused on downtown development.

In the 1980s, Clark recalls, downtown Austin was full of plenty of places to park, but nothing to do. “Through the '90s, it started to take off,” Clark says of the shift marked by an influx of restaurants that decided to call downtown home, many of which were designed by Clark himself.

Those restaurants, along with increased housing and retail developments, made downtown Austin a profitable destination that has maintained its vibrant identity and continues to grow.

The modernist stamp Clark first imprinted on Austin over three decades ago continues to mark newer spaces throughout Austin's main corridors. Hangar Lounge, Key Bar and 1400 South Congress are all representations of his signature, streamlined aesthetic.

And lucky for Austin, the 30-year veteran architect shows no signs of slowing down his creative process. Because, as Clark said in a candid 2012 interview with Lytle Pressley, “architects have an eye that just never shuts.”

Your chief characteristic?

Procrastination.

Your idea of happiness?

Time with friends.

Your idea of misery?

Answering these questions.

What is your favorite pastime?

Architecture.

Your favorite food and drink?

Northeast Coast oysters and an icy vodka martini.

Your favorite restaurant — in your hometown and in the world?

The Grove, Austin, Texas and Arzak's in San Sebastian, Spain.

Your pet aversion?

Dishonesty.

Your favorite motto?

Life is good — enjoy.

Your favorite heroes in real life?

First responders.

If not yourself, who would you be?

Leonardo da Vinci.

Something people would be surprised to know about you?

Really good dancer.

What is the best advice you ever received?

Respect your mama.