Brooks and Scarpa: architecture, sustainability, and social commitment
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Angela Brooks and Lawrence Scarpa: excellence in architecture, sustainability, and social commitment

On June 23, the Illinois Institute of Technology is hosting an invitation-only event to pay tribute to the winners of the 2022 AIA Gold Medal


Brooks and Scarpa: architecture, sustainability, and social commitment
By Editorial Staff -

On Thursday, June 23, the Crown Hall of the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago will host a tribute to the winners of the 2022 AIA Gold Medal, Angela Brooks and Lawrence Scarpa, founders of the American studio Brooks + Scarpa. After a long wait, this invitation-only event will also pay tribute to the architects who won the prestigious AIA award during the pandemic: namely, Marlon Blackwell, founder of Marlon Blackwell Architects (Gold Medal in 2020) and Edward Mazria, founder of Architecture 2030 (Gold Medal in 2021).

Brooks + Scarpa ©Jeff Durkin

In recognizing Brooks and Scarpa, the AIA stated, “Partners in life and design, Angela Brooks, FAIA, and Lawrence Scarpa, FAIA, have forged a pioneering brand of architecture that profoundly enriches the human experience and reveals the extraordinary in what is widely considered ordinary. Across three decades, the excellence of their work has been celebrated internationally, recognized for its unparalleled intersection of collaboration, community, research, and reflection. Moreover, their projects demonstrate a keen understanding of beauty, craft, and the raw power of architecture, standing among the very best of the profession.”


The story of Angela Brooks and Lawrence Scarpa

Brooks + Scarpa ©Jeff Durkin

Brooks and Scarpa met in Gainesville while studying architecture at the University of Florida. Both hailing from the Sunshine State, they married in 1987 and moved to California. In 1991, Scarpa founded Pugh + Scarpa with Gwynne Pugh, which Brooks joined a few years later. In 2010, the name was changed to Brooks + Scarpa, following Pugh’s exit. Now based in Los Angeles and Fort Lauderdale, the studio was awarded the Smithsonian Design Museum’s National Design Award in Architecture in 2014. Brooks + Scarpa stands out for its holistic approach to design, a creative and surprising use of materials, and a focus on environmental sustainability and social issues. Brooks and Scarpa not only founded their architectural practice, but also set up the non-profit organization Livable Places, the A+D Museum in Los Angeles, and the Affordable Housing Design Leadership Institute.

“Aside from being outstanding, award-winning design architects, Angie and Larry are also exceptional activists, community leaders, and civic collaborators,” wrote Steve Dumez, FAIA, and Douglas A. Benson, FAIA, in a letter nominating the two for the prestigious award. “They are motivated by a social responsibility and environmental stewardship that seeks to find ways to improve the livability of cities and ennoble the daily lives of its citizens. Actively engaged citizen-architects, their efforts have fundamentally reshaped public policy initiatives that address critical issues and reforms that serve the public good, increase housing equity, and improve the built environment.”


Brooks + Scarpa told through its own projects: Pico Place, Santa Monica

Pico Place, Santa Monica, Brooks + Scarpa ©John Linden

Pico Place is a 32-unit LEED Platinum certified community housing complex in Santa Monica, California. Sustainability plays a key role in this project, which was designed around natural ventilation and to ensure a balance between natural light and shade. Moreover, environmentally friendly materials were used, with recycled concrete, in various colors and textures, among the most common. The rectangular awnings above the courtyard add another splash of color while providing shade and privacy for residents.


Metalsa Research and Technology Building, Monterrey (Mexico)

Metalsa Research and Technology Building, Monterrey, Brooks + Scarpa ©John Edward Linden, courtesy Brooks + Scarpa

Alternating between openness and privacy, the Metalsa Research and Technology Building is the Monterrey (Mexico) headquarters of this company specialized in metal parts for car manufacturers around the world. To meet the client brief to build a research laboratory, a warehouse, and offices, Brooks + Scarpa designed a hub formed by two interconnecting blocks. The area used for testing and prototype construction, in particular, is an interplay of spaces that open and close to the outside world, thereby limiting views into research areas to protect proprietary trade secrets.

The other challenge involved in the project related to the site and orientation of the building. The studio focused on how to manage high temperatures and a considerable solar load on the western side, finally designing a fully glazed façade protected by the building’s cantilevered roof.

The iconic and easily recognizable roof brings the two volumes together, creating a dynamic appearance.


The Six, Los Angeles

The Six, Los Angeles, Brooks + Scarpa © Tara Wujick and Brooks+Scarpa

Comprising 52 units for disabled and homeless veterans, The Six is a LEED Platinum certified social housing project in Los Angeles. As well as the housing units, the building hosts a series of support and rehabilitation services for residents, as well as public and private spaces, designed as a way of breaking down barriers. These spaces are intended to de-emphasize isolation and reclusion in favor of openness, interactivity, and community. At ground level are offices, a veteran support center, a garage, and a bike shed. Above that is a large common courtyard with plenty of plant life. The courtyard is surrounded by residential units on four levels, with balconies clad with recycled wood, but also has large openings that visually connect it to the street a level below.


Southern Utah Museum of Art (SUMA), Cedar City

Southern Utah Museum of Art (SUMA), Cedar City © Dana Sohm

Part of the Beverley Taylor Sorenson Center for the Arts, the Southern Utah Museum of Art comprises spaces dedicated to the performing arts, live theater, and art workshops. The source of inspiration for this project was the sandstone formations in Bryce Canyon and Mt. Zion National Park. The covered entrance area is an especially iconic part of the structure, expanding the interior spaces, providing protection from the sun, and encouraging interaction and the exchange of ideas. The roof, designed to collect snowmelt and stormwater runoff, pitches and bends in two directions, forming a canyon-like shape that directs water to either end of the building. This flow of water can be seen from the street, until it disappears into wells at the base of the structure, where it is collected and re-charged back into the aquifer.


Thayer Brick House, Evanstone

Thayer Brick House, Evanstone, Brooks + Scarpa ©Marty Peters, courtesy Brooks + Scarpa

An oxymoron, a juxtaposition of opposing elements and characters, Thayer Brick House, in Evanstone, Illinois, designed by Brooks + Scarpa and Dwell, epitomizes privacy while also setting out to break up the monotony of the surrounding architecture with its camouflage-like appearance. The brick façade is a case in point as well as a true icon of the project. Composed of adjoining columns of bricks that twist around a central axis, the façade also brings a touch of grace and delicacy to the entire cube-shaped structure. The result is a feeling of movement, reminiscent of folds of fabric.


Magnolia Hill, Los Angeles

Magnolia Hill, Los Angeles, Brooks+Scarpa ©Tara Wujcik and Lawrence Scarpa

By transforming the site of a former gas station into a mixed-use complex comprising apartments and retail space, Brooks + Scarpa did, in fact, transform a Los Angeles street by applying aesthetics and technology to architecture. Magnolia Hill is distinguished by its permeable and multilayer white façades, which, in turn, provide acoustic comfort, natural light, ventilation, and privacy. The building maintains a dialogue with outdoors through its glazed areas, which also combat heat gain, such as from the courtyard to the apartments on the second level.


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Please refer to the individual images in the gallery to look through the photo credits

All images courtesy of Brooks + Scarpa

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