Brooks + Scarpa (formerly Pugh + Scarpa) first came to national prominence in 2002 with an affordable housing project called Colorado Court. The Santa Monica, Calif., building incorporates solar panels as an integral part of its design, rather than trying to hide them. It represents an open-mindedness and a willingness to experiment, two qualities that characterize every Brooks + Scarpa project—from the Solar Umbrella house that principals Angela Brooks, AIA, LEED AP, and Lawrence Scarpa, FAIA, designed for themselves in Venice, Calif., to the Contemporary Art Museum the firm currently is working on in Raleigh, N.C.
This ability to look at a design problem in new and creative ways has earned the firm plenty of distinctions within the profession. In 2010 alone, as Pugh + Scarpa, it won the American Institute of Architects’ (AIA) Architecture Firm Award and designation as Firm of the Year from the AIA California Council. The firm can also boast of many local and national design prizes, as well as multiple AIA/COTE Top Ten Green awards.
Although firm co-founder Gwynne Pugh, FAIA, LEED AP, left last year to start his own company, Brooks and Scarpa are continuing the work of finding sustainable, beautiful solutions to complex challenges. The firm remains committed to affordable housing, as well as other project types it finds compelling, such as mixed-use, custom residential, and institutional work.
What is the most gratifying aspect of residential practice?
The most gratifying aspect of residential practice is seeing people enjoy using and living in their space. Hopefully we’ve been able to give them more than just shelter ... a place where they can feel safe, content, and happy.
What is the most frustrating aspect?
The most frustrating aspect is dealing with the somewhat ridiculous codes and regulations governing our built environment that seem to run counter to design excellence.
What is your mission statement or firm goal?
To create meaningful spaces for people that are beautiful and rooted in their place. To create environments that leave a lasting impression and are fully integrated with their environment.
What is the most indispensable tool in your office?
What software does your firm use?
Pretty much everything.
Who is your ideal client?
The ideal client relationship is built on trust. All of our clients are ideal!
What is your favorite building?
We have favorite places (Barcelona, Paris, New York, and Chicago), but not favorite buildings.
If you didn’t have the time to design your own house, who would you hire?
That would never happen.