2018 Meritorious Achievement Award: Joseph Benjamin
The UTSA CACP’s Meritorious Achievement Award honors an alumnus more than 10 years out of any CACP degree. Winners have demonstrated sustained professional excellence, with evidence of professional industry service and major career accomplishments, such as awards, publications, patents, professional or national distinction, while maintaining consistent support of UTSA. A native of Lafayette, Louisiana, Joseph Benjamin moved to Texas from the Washington D.C. area and earned his Bachelor of Science in Architecture degree from UTSA in 1998. He was hired by Lake Flato and is currently an Associate Partner. Joseph has developed a diverse portfolio of civic and commercial projects that exhibit his commitment toward integrating sustainable design strategies which account for the overall lifespan of each building. His approach to design is pragmatic and holistic, grounded in a belief that great projects come from great relationships. He has been earning awards for his work going back more than a decade. His work for Louisiana State University Hilltop Arboretum won its first award in 2002, has gone on to win three additional awards, and has been published three times. The Shangri La Nature Center has won five awards and has been published four times. The ASU Health Services building has won six awards and has been published twice. Joseph has also won awards personally and has been published locally, in Texas, and nationally. He is a member of AIA San Antonio and has begun serving on advisory councils for the college.
On his time spent at UTSA:
My fondest memories of my time at UTSA were my architecture studio classes with Gevork Hartoonian, Dwayne Bohuslav, and the Lake Flato Studio.
On working with Lake Flato for 20 years:
My time at Lake Flato has been amazing! It’s still weird to think it’s been 20 years because it seems it was just a short time ago that I started working here. The work that I get to be part of is incredible, but it’s really the people and the family at Lake Flato that I find most special. I work with talented people daily.
His typical workday:
It doesn’t look like I thought it would when I was in architecture school. My typical day is usually filled with answering and sending emails, phone calls, lots of meetings, and some travel interspersed. Actual drawing time is limited in comparison to what I envisioned while I was in school, but it is still incredibly rewarding because the emails, phone calls, and travel are an essential part of making our projects and office successful.
On recent or notable projects:
The Shangri La Botanical Garden and Nature Center in Orange, Texas is the first LEED Platinum project on the Gulf Coast. The Sunshine Cottage School in San Antonio is for hearing impaired kids, but what makes it interesting is that it’s an auditory learning school. Background noise needed to be minimized and mechanical and electrical systems required special attention. The new San Antonio Federal Courthouse is an important public project, as it will replace the existing Woods courthouse. I feel honored to have a hand in a project that is so important to the city and region.
His advice for current students:
Plans change, be adaptable. Opportunities are all around us and you shouldn’t be so focused on your plans that you miss opportunities that might not be part of the original plan. My original plan was to leave San Antonio, and possibly Texas after graduation, but the opportunity at Lake Flato came up. Even then I thought I’d get a little experience with a great firm, then move on, but 20 years later I’m still here and wouldn’t change a thing.
The UTSA CACP Distinguished Alumni Awards were introduced at the college’s 15-Year Celebration in Spring of 2017 and are now awarded annually as part of the CACP’s Scholarship Banquet each fall semester. Distinguished alumni are nominated by faculty, vetted through a faculty committee, and voted on by faculty.