Perkins&Will New Design Director

Photo Courtesy of Perkins&Will

Wyatt Frantom, FAIA, with his global perspective and industry recognition for design excellence, joins Perkins&Will as design director of the firm’s Austin studio. An experienced cross-disciplinary collaborator, Frantom will strengthen the studio’s culture of curiosity and design exploration.

“Since the first time I was exposed to Perkins&Will as an undergrad, the firm has consistently been setting the standard for sustainable design in the industry,” says Frantom. “Today, its ‘Living Design’ framework demonstrates continued leadership toward climate action, social equity, health, and resilience—core values I also strive to uphold in my work.”

Responsive and responsible

Frantom’s passion for environmental stewardship has deep roots. Born and raised in a small town in rural Ohio, he grew up working on family farms, an experience that forged a strong emotional connection to the natural world. “What inspires me most—and what keeps me grounded—is nature,” he says.

Frantom traveled widely as his career progressed, living and working everywhere from St. Louis, Missouri, and Los Angeles, California, to Bangalore, India, and Paris, France. His experience leading, designing, and delivering projects in the U.S. and abroad sharpened his design philosophy.

“Design should be both responsive and responsible,” says Frantom. “In shaping the future, architects and designers have that obligation—to leave the world better than we found it. Without environmental stewardship as a top priority, one does a disservice to the industry and to our collective future.”

To Frantom, responsive design means paying close attention to local context, listening to a chorus of diverse voices, and finding inspiration in the texture of place. Responsible design is the commitment to take people, the planet, and business seriously, to answer the needs of both clients and the greater community.

Koleman Uresti, managing director of the Austin studio, believes Perkins&Will has found a kindred spirit in Frantom: “Wyatt is a forward-thinking and collaborative leader, who brings a passion for design excellence and environmental responsibility to all of his work. We are excited to see him build upon the momentum of our practice.”

A blue-collar work ethic and the pursuit of ‘better’

Frantom’s approach to architecture is iterative, hands-on, and highly collaborative. In his new role overseeing all design work in the studio, he is passionate about leading by example.

“From an early age, I was taught the value of diligence and a day’s work,” he says, recalling formative years spent working at the gas and service station his father owned and operated for five decades. “That work ethic has certainly influenced how I approach practice: A blue-collar understanding that good work—and success—comes from the daily efforts of our collective creativity.”

Designing buildings means contributing to the design of communities—and to the future. He believes that “better” is always there, just waiting to be created.

Around the globe and back to Texas 

The move to Austin is not Frantom’s first time in Texas. He earned his Master of Architecture with distinction from Rice University in Houston and taught at the University of Houston’s Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture. He also exhibited and lectured at the University of Texas in Denton.

Texas is the first state in which Frantom was licensed to practice as an architect. Now with over 25 years of experience designing office buildings, corporate campuses, higher education buildings, and healthcare projects, Frantom is energized for the future.

“I’m excited to be back in Texas, to make Austin my new home, and looking forward to fostering partnerships within the community that will have a positive impact on the future of the city.” He adds, “Within the studio, I am most excited about creating an inspiring portfolio of well-delivered work. The architects and interior designers here are tremendously talented, and I hope to enhance the Austin studio’s already rich design culture.”

Wyatt Frantom, FAIA, is an award-winning architect licensed in Texas and California. He is passionate about designing environmentally responsive office buildings, headquarters and corporate campuses, and places of learning. 

His projects have been recognized and published widely, earning honors by the Chicago Athenaeum, the AIA COTE National Award, the ULI Charter Award, AIA State and local design awards, and others. He received the 2014 BD+C National 40-under-40 Award, the 2014 AIA National Young Architects Award, and the 2007 AIA Houston Young Architect Award. He was elevated to the AIA College of Fellows in 2019

Frantom received a Master of Architecture from Rice University, a Bachelor of Science in Architecture from The Ohio State University, and a graduate certificate in real estate investment from Harvard University. He speaks frequently at conferences across the country, has taught architectural design, and regularly serves as a design critic at universities and on awards juries.

About Perkins&Will 

Perkins and Will, an interdisciplinary, research-based architecture and design firm, was founded in 1935 on the belief that design has the power to transform lives. Guided by its core values—design excellence, diversity and inclusion, research, resilience, social purpose, sustainability, and well-being—the firm is committed to designing a better, more beautiful world. Fast Company named Perkins and Will one of the World’s Most Innovative Companies in Architecture, and industry rankings consistently place Perkins and Will among the world’s top design practices. With an international team of more than 2,700 professionals, the firm has over 20 studios worldwide, providing services in architecture, interior design, branded environments, urban design, and landscape architecture. Partners include Danish architects Schmidt Hammer Lassen; retail strategy and design consultancy Portland; sustainable transportation planning consultancy Nelson\\Nygaard; and luxury hospitality design firm Pierre-Yves Rochon (PYR). For more information, visit www.perkinswill.com.

About the Austin Studio of Perkins&Will

Established in 2002, the Austin studio of Perkins&Will has built a strong foundation of providing innovative programming, planning, and design services along with an unwavering commitment to client service. Located in one of Perkins&Will’s fastest growing regions, the Austin studio serves clients representing diverse market sectors: corporate and commercial, civic and cultural, corporate interiors, urban design, branded environments, higher education, and K-12 education. Recent projects include new headquarters for Spreetail, Sailpoint Technologies, and Dropbox, as well as the campus masterplan for Seminary of the Southwest, ACC Highland Campus Phase 2 redevelopment, and Round Rock ISD’s McNeil High School. The studio is currently developing a number of mixed-use, office, and multi-family projects in and around the central business district of downtown Austin.

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