Ar­chi­tect Dick Clark dies af­ter bat­tle with cancer

He de­signed many no­table build­ings in Austin,

Austin American-Statesman - - FRONT PAGE - By Gary Dinges and Shonda No­vak gdinges@states­man.com sno­vak@states­man.com

Dick Clark, an ar­chi­tect who helped take many build­ings across Austin from sim­ple sketches to bricks and mor­tar, died early Tues­day, ac­cord­ing to his fam­ily. He was 72.

Clark had been bat­tling leukemia, but died of com­pli­ca­tions from pneu­mo­nia at Hous­ton’s MD An­der­son Cancer Cen­ter, a pub­li­cist said.

His firm, Dick Clark + As­so­ciates, was founded in 1979. Over the years, its projects have in­cluded the South Congress Ho­tel, Whole Earth stores in Austin and San An­to­nio, and a num­ber of bars and restau­rants such as Hangar Lounge, Fino, Kenichi, Star Bar and Speakeasy, among oth­ers.

“Dick de­signed our firm, train­ing a young ar­chi­tect right out of school in how he liked to do projects, de­vel­op­ing their range of skills to even­tu­ally go out and have their own firm,” said Mark Vorn­berg, a 22-year em­ployee who now serves as the firm’s CEO. “I’m thank­ful that not only did Dick raise me like a fa­ther, he al­lowed me to even­tu­ally man­age the next gen­er­a­tion at the firm. He lived life well, and if you asked Dick what his fa­vorite project was, he al­ways said, ‘The next one.’ ”

Michael Hsu is one of many Austin ar­chi­tects who had come to know and trust Clark as a men­tor.

“He rarely sep­a­rated so­cial and pro­fes­sional re­la­tion­ships; work and life was all per­sonal, all the time,” Hsu said. “Those that worked for him or hired him were

bet­ter for it be­cause when you shared time with Dick you were a friend.

“Dick Clark, to me, was Austin roy­alty, hav­ing seen and lived it fully from the 1960s here, 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.”

Over the course of nearly two decades, Hsu said he worked with Clark on count­less projects.

“He still had the ex­cite­ment of start­ing a project like it was his first com­mis­sion,” Hsu said. “Trace pa­per and a fat pen­cil were all he needed. He cher­ished de­sign and ar­chi­tec­ture, lived for it. It was never a job, it was in­sep­a­ra­ble from him­self.”

Born in Dal­las in 1944, Clark at­tended High­land Park High School. A 1969 Univer­sity of Texas grad­u­ate, he went on to get a master’s de­gree in ar­chi­tec­ture from Har­vard in 1972.

Sherry Matthews, founder and CEO of Sherry Matthews Ad­vo­cacy Mar­ket­ing, met Clark in 1982 when both were go­ing through di­vorces. The two went on to be­come best friends and long­time com­pan­ions.

“We had a stand­ing Satur­day night date for 25 years,” Matthews said. She said Clark de­signed many homes for her over the years, in­clud­ing one on West­lake Drive called “The Water House,” which was writ­ten up in nu­mer­ous mag­a­zines.

She de­scribed him as “very in­tel­li­gent, very in­quis­i­tive” and a keen ob­server of hu­man be­hav­ior — a trait that helped shape his de­signs.

“He wanted to go to restau­rants not to eat, but to see how peo­ple be­haved in a suc­cess­ful restau­rant,” by, for ex­am­ple, ob­serv­ing women as they fig­ured out where to put their purses.

As a 2-year-old, he asked his mother for a ham­mer and nails be­cause he wanted to build a house, Matthews said.

“He al­ways wanted to be an ar­chi­tect,” Matthews said. “That was the great love of his life. He lived to work.”

Clark was a gifted ar­chi­tect who left “a very strong le­gacy of built work in Austin,” said Fred­er­ick “Fritz” Steiner, dean of the Univer­sity of Texas’ School of Ar­chi­tec­ture from 2001 to 2016.

“It’s hard to put him in a stylis­tic camp,” said Steiner, now dean of the Univer­sity of Penn­syl­va­nia School of De­sign. “His work varied, based on the client and the site, but he con­trib­uted to a Cen­tral Texas aes­thetic that emerged” — one marked by a “gen­er­ous use of lime­stone and lo­cal ma­te­ri­als,” Steiner said.

Clark had “a strong rap­port with his clients,” which he honed by lis­ten­ing to them and “trans­form­ing their ideas into places for them to live and work,” Steiner said.

Per­son­ally, Clark “had a great sense of hu­mor. He was al­ways sort of jok­ing and the life of the party,” Steiner said. “An all-around great guy.”

Austin ac­tor, di­rec­tor and writer Turk Pip­kin said he was friends with Clark for three decades. Pip­kin said Tues­day that Clark was an early sup­porter of his non­profit, the No­belity Project.

“He al­ways smiled, al­ways had fun and al­ways made sure that oth­ers did, as well,” Pip­kin said. “We played a lot of golf with a gi­ant ro­tat­ing group of ‘Friends of Dick.’ We ate great meals in a lot of won­der­ful Austin restau­rants and homes de­signed by Dick, and he trav­eled with me to Hon­duras and Kenya to see and as­sist in the No­belity Project’s ed­u­ca­tion projects.”

That in­cluded treks to places such as Kenya. In 2015, Pip­kin said, Clark re­ceived the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s Ann Richards Founders Award.

That night, Christy Pip­kin told the crowd at the Four Sea­sons: “For those of you who don’t know Dick, imag­ine go­ing to a ru­ral Kenyan school with the world’s largest liv­ing teddy bear. He played ball, taught kids to take pho­tos and talked with them about ar­chi­tec­ture. He some­how had more fun than the rest of us. He made the trip to make that faceto-face connection to kids whose lives he has helped changed for­ever.”

A me­mo­rial ser­vice for Clark hasn’t yet been sched­uled. Con­tact Gary Dinges at 512-912-5987. Twit­ter: @gdinges Con­tact Shonda No­vak at 512-445-3856.

HAY­DEN SPEARS

Dick Clark was a gifted ar­chi­tect who left “a very strong le­gacy of built work in Austin,” said a for­mer dean at UT who knew him.

CON­TRIB­UTED

Dick Clark, seen here in 2015, “al­ways smiled, al­ways had fun and al­ways made sure that oth­ers did as well,” said Austin ac­tor, di­rec­tor and writer Turk Pip­kin.

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