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Cover photo by Casey Dunn, designed by Lake|Flato Architects







Editor's Note

James R. Adair

I was in elementary school when the Tower of the Americas was built for the 1968 city-wide celebration called Hemisfair. At least once a week our teacher would bring in pictures from the newspaper that showed progress on the building. First the vertical concrete shaft was built, followed by the restaurant/observation deck, which was built on the ground. Finally, the restaurant was hoisted by cranes up the concrete shaft, a little bit at a time, day after day. I marveled at the idea of a building so incredibly tall and was mesmerized by the spectacle of the restaurant slowly climbing into the sky.

That experience began my lifelong fascination with architecture. A fear of heights (I prefer to think of it as a healthy respect for gravity) has led me to prefer buildings built a little closer to the ground, but I can still appreciate a beautiful skyscraper, and I was even enticed to go to the top of the Empire State Building on one occasion. The San Antonio skyline has changed greatly over the years. The first skyscrapers (for example, the Milam Building and the Smith-Young Tower, now the Tower Life Building) were built in the 1920s, followed in later decades by the Tower of the Americas, several hotels (two Marriotts, the Grand Hyatt, and others), and now the Frost Tower. Of course, architecture is concerned with much more than towers. Homes, office buildings, public buildings, schools, places of worship, bridges, monuments, and outdoor spaces can also showcase architectural artistry, feats of engineering, and connection with the community and the environment.

In this issue of Voices de la Luna we interview Ted Flato, cofounder of the respected architectural firm Lake|Flato, winner of innumberable awards. He discusses some of the principles his firm follows in its designs, not least of which is integration with the environment. Several images of Lake|Flato structures grace the pages of this issue, including the cover.

Our featured poet is Brandon McQuade, a Canadian poet who serves as poetry editor of Montréal Writes. His poems have appeared in numerous publications, and others will appear in the upcoming publication Poetry Anthology by Vita Brevis. His first book of poems was recently published by Kelsay Books.

As COVID-19 vaccinations become more readily available, we’re beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel with regard to the pandemic, but it is far from over in the U.S., not to mention other parts of the world such as India and Brazil. Several of the poems and short stories in this issue reflect the ongoing angst that many continue to feel as they live in a world changed forever by the virus.

One exceedingly bright spot that we highlight is the work of youth poets, reflected in the amazing poems submitted to the Shelter in Poetry & Art 2021: Voices de la Luna/H-E-B Youth Poetry Contest. We publish nine poems by the winners of this contest and also share some highlights from the very successful Voices de la Luna Virtual Gala that was held in April.

We hope you enjoy reading this issue focusing on architecture and the built environment, and even more, we hope you go outside and appreciate the beauty of the built environment around you, wherever you live.


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Themes for future issues
August 2021: Historiography: Writing History
November 2021: The Nobel Prizes

Current Voices


Heritage Duck Pond Park

Brandon McQuade

Park benches and parked cars hover around Heritage Park. Families, lovers and friends pass COVID masks pulling at their ears as squirrels wrestle in the trees and pigeons gurgle at our feet under a cloudless, stone-blue sky. Everyone is keeping their distance. Even the foundations of the nearby suburban houses seem to have drifted. Walking the pathway along the edge of the manmade pond dug like a trench, a green-headed mallard floats behind us silent, untouchable and immune.




The Pearl Brewing Company

Yolis Luna




The Only Time

Sonya Gonzalez

Only the stars can hear us tonight, a concealing umbrella, for our hushed chattering and giggles. A closed door to speaking our native language, my older sister and I draw closer and closer, our bond—tight. Floating away in our own protective globe, cozy, warm, content in our secretive land, without reprimand. Our faces, lit like luminarias, finally pouring out our bottled-up feelings and thoughts. English became the norm— our bond loosened to extinction never to return. The loss was there, just unrecognizable at the time.




The Only Time

Sonya Gonzalez




Let Me Not Forget

Kailey Monsivais

The unusual advice my grandmother would give me “Mija,” my grandmother would say on our walks back to her house, located in a tiny town in Mexico, “Always let yourself be kissed by the sun, like this—” She would lift up her chin and close her eyes Her face exposed to the sun’s cruel brightness My little seven-year-old mind couldn’t comprehend what She was asking of me but I nodded my head anyways Let me not forget the joys of those days, the moments filled with pain The times of despair and hunger for more The simplicity of it all For they were the definition of living because nothing is worse than Not recognizing your own home Or it not recognizing you I now lie on my backyard’s grass A physical substitution I close my eyes, lift my chin up high Waiting for the sun’s kisses Hoping it can make up for what’s gone Finally understanding my grandmother’s words To anyone who’s listening Por el amor de Dios or the universe Please, don’t let me forget this tiny town in Mexico called Moctezuma.




Government Canyon Visitor Center

Lake|Flato Architects

Photo by Chris Cooper




Sestina for the Built World

Kay Parke

A poem outlasts the world entire, longer than buildings made to hold our place, doors through which we pass, narrow or wide, domes that shelter under skies round, bridges to where we have not yet gone, towers we climb up, or leap off. Masons, poets, drop lines that level off rough edges, lay bricks, make walls, entire rooms with stones, or words, before we’re gone, build for our beloveds a peaceful place. Work while we can before the final round of life pushes us to the abyss wide. A poem like a door shut tight or open wide. If stuck, you might have to take the hinges off. But pass through to the next room, look all round. Touch the walls; explore the castle entire. Knock and shall be opened the place where you always wanted to have gone. A poem like a dome with the roof gone. Rain falls through one floor to the next, yet a place that holds hearts broken for nations wide: Capitol, breached, still holds assassins off. Notre Dame, scorched, faith entire. Taj Mahal, forever lost love, in the round. A poem like a bridge gathers round pilgrims who seek: those gone to the next world, paradise entire; cross Edmund Pettus, full freedom wide; like George Bailey, stop from flinging off as an angel stands by your place. A poem like a tower leads to its highest place. From the turret view the horizon round. Longing to soar like birds, leap off, forgetting earth’s ballast, gone. Weightless we float in spaces wide while planes or snipers take aim over the world entire. What offers a safe place when smoking ruins are gone? What sings still as our round balmy planet spins wide? A poem outlasts the world entire.




Tower Life Building (San Antonio, TX)

Ayres & Ayres, architects


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