A Friday night in early spring, the bucolic Texas countryside, and one of America’s Meccas for antiques and design. These key ingredients combined with three speakers and a moderator who are at the forefront of cutting-edge architecture to make The Halles in Round Top the nexus for a forward dialogue about what living in the 21st century should look like. 

Round Top Publishers’ chairman, Jim Kastleman, who presides over the The Halles — and co-owns PaperCity — devised the panel to discuss the prescient concept, The Future of Building. 

Kastleman rounded up a trio of authoritative speakers in from Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio who are at the forefront of today’s most exciting innovations in building — including housing, which was the evening’s topic. The panelists were, respectively, Brent Jackson, CEO of HiFAB Modular Homes; Tim Lankau, CEO of Hive3D Builders; and Lewis McNeel, AIA, associate partner, Lake|Flato Architects. Bob Gaynor of Dallas-based Faulkner Design Group, stepped up as the informed moderator. 

Kastleman welcomed the panelists — whom each gave a brief overview of their firms — and thanked the design-savvy crowd for their attendance, then architect Lewis McNeel introduced the talk by giving an overview, complete with engaging slideshow featuring examples of some of Lake|Flato’s most iconic buildings, illustrating the tenets that shaped his firm’s mission’s back to its founding 40 years earlier. These principles ranged from timelessness and innovation to land and climate, and hand-working beauty. 

Included were a few of the calling cards of  Lake|Flato: a spectacular lake house in Austin that seamlessly becomes one with the body of water it hovers over; the dramatic repurposing of the Pearl Brewery in San Antonio; and a project that first earned the firm national acclaim, a home in Kyle, Texas formed from the salvaged warehouse of San Antonio’s historic Alamo Cement Plant (aka The Plant at Kyle, or the Carraro Residence). See Ted Flato on The Plant at Kyle here

The Future of Building panelists architect Lewis McNeel, associate partner, Lake|Flato Architects; Tim Lankau, CEO, Hive3D Builders; Brent Jackson, CEO, HiFAB Modular Homes; and moderator Bob Gaynor, business development manager, Faulkner Design Group.

Then Brent Jackson and Tim Lankau joined Lewis McNeel in fielding questions from Bob Gaynor, while digging into their expertise in new technologies that are transforming America’s housing development, respectively, modular home building and 3D-printing building technology. 

Jackson discussed HiFAB’s Texas plant by Lake|Flato and the cool modular haciendas (now in Round Top!) also designed by Lake|Flato, which reimagine what modular building looks like when married to mindful technology and simple but elevated architecture.   

Lankau then contributed images and details of his firm’s environmentally conscious approach to building with 3D-printed concrete — a material that dates to the Romans — which now replaces traditional carbon-unfriendly cement with a new medium that is eco-conscious. This technology is being used in Hive3D’s current builds from the Brenham/Burton area to Marfa. 

Lewis McNeel, Dot Butler. (Photo by Kolton King)

The panel wrapped with questions from the audience, including a surprise guest — innovative designer Dot Butler — who contributed her expertise by working on Lake|Flato’s renowned recent build, the sustainable 3D-printed House Zero.   

Lankau and Jackson also addressed the issue of affordability and alleviating our current housing crisis; both technologies offer promising means of making sustainable and well-designed housing available to lower and middle-income Americans. 

Kastleman concluded the day by inviting the audience to experience examples of modular and 3D-printed architecture by checking out The Halles’ handsome Hive3D Casitas (available for rental) and his Starred Sky Development endeavor in Round Top — modern, modular haciendas, aka Hacienda Grove, designed by Lake|Flato, built by HiFAB. Read more about these homes’ game changing concept in this Dwell magazine article here.

Hive3D Casitas at The Halles, thehalles.com. Read more about The Halles avant-garde 3D-printed casitas here.

Hacienda Grove, 1120 W. Fuchs Road, Round Top; Open Houses daily, through Sunday, March 31, 10 am to 6 pm; Tavern Sunsets, through March 31, 6 to 9 pm; haciendagrove.com.