Lawrence Scarpa

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Lawrence Scarpa
Lawrence Scarpa.jpg
Born (1959-10-28) October 28, 1959 (age 56)
Queens, New York
Nationality American
Occupation Architect
Practice Brooks + Scarpa
Buildings Solar Umbrella house, Colorado Court, Bergamot Station, Reactor Films, Make-it-Right, New Orleans

Lawrence Scarpa (born October 28, 1959) is an architect based in Los Angeles, California. He used conventional materials in unexpected ways and is considered a pioneer and leader in the field of sustainable design.[1]

Personal life[edit]

Scarpa was born into a Jewish-Italian family in Queens, New York.[2] After his mother's death from cancer in 1967, the family moved to Miami, Florida. As a child, Scarpa became interested in architecture while helping his father after school with small construction projects that his father undertook to supplement his regular income as a mailman. While on job sites with his father, Scarpa would often build little buildings made from construction debris and other small scraps of wood found there. This interest in making and construction has followed Scarpa his entire life.[3]


In 1976, Scarpa's father moved the family to Winter Haven, Florida where he opened a restaurant. While working in the restaurant as a senior in high school, Scarpa befriended a regular customer named Gene Leedy, an architect and member of the Sarasota School of Architecture. Leedy soon became Scarpa's mentor.[4] Scarpa worked for Leedy and in his father's restaurant while attending the University of Florida. Upon graduation from the university, Scarpa moved to Boca Grande, Florida to work for Leedy as the foreman for the construction of houses designed by Leedy. Scarpa then accepted a job and moved to New York to work for Paul Rudolph for nearly two years until he returned to Graduate School at the University of Florida in 1984. Upon graduation from the University of Florida, he moved to Vicenza, Italy for two years before returning to the United States to teach at the University of Florida where he met his future wife, Angela Brooks whom he married in 1987. The couple moved to San Francisco and one year later relocated to Los Angeles, where they live with their one son. In 1991, after three years of working together with architect and engineer Gwynne Pugh, the two men formed the architecture firm Pugh + Scarpa. In 2011, the firm name changed its name to Brooks + Scarpa to reflect the firm's leadership under Angela Brooks and Lawrence Scarpa. [5]

Notable career achievements[edit]

Honors and awards[edit]

Early in his career, Scarpa completed many National AIA award winning office projects.[6]

In 2004 The Architectural League of New York selected Scarpa as an “Emerging Voice” in architecture.[7] His work has been exhibited at the National Building Museum in Washington, DC, MOCA and at numerous other venues worldwide. He was featured in Newsweek[8]and in a segment on The Oprah Winfrey Show. In 2009 Interior Design Magazine honored him with their Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2010, his firm Pugh + Scarpa received the American Institute of Architects Firm Award, the highest award given to an architectural firm. He was also elected to the American Institute of Architects College of Fellows in 2010. In 2014 Scarpa and his partner Angela Brooks of the architecture firm Brooks + Scarpa were the recipients of the 2014 Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum Award in Architecture. In 2015, he received the American Institute of Architects California Council (AIACC) Lifetime Achievement Award.


Scarpa's project Colorado Court in Santa Monica was the first multi-family housing project in the USA to be LEED Certified.[9] [10] His Solar umbrella house in Venice, California has been named by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) as one of their Top Ten Green Projects. [11] Both Colorado Court and the Solar Umbrella House and Step Up on 5th are the only projects in the history of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) to win a National AIA Design Award, an AIA "COTE" Committee on the Environment "Top Ten Green Building" Award and a National AIA special interest award for a single project.[12] [11]


Scarpa has held teaching positions at several universities for more than two decades and is currently on the faculty at the University of Southern California. He was the 2014 BarberMcMurry Professor at the University of Tennessee. He was the 2012 Visiting Professor at Harvard University Graduate School of Design, and in 2011 was the John Jerde Distinguished Professor at The University of Southern California. He was also the 2009 E. Fay Jones Distinguished Chair in Architecture at the University of Arkansas, the 2008 Ruth and James Moore Visiting Professor Washington University, St. Louis, the 2007 Eliel Saarinen Distinguished Professor in Architecture at the Alfred Taubman College of Architecture + Urban Planning, University of Michigan Ann Arbor, the 2004 Howard Friedman Fellow in Architecture at the University of California Berkeley. He has also taught at the University of California Los Angeles, Southern California Institute of Architecture, University of Florida as well as several other higher education institutions.[13]


  1. ^ Freudenheim, Susan “Living / The Scarpa Home; Hot Stuff; High style meets sustainability in the Venice home of two architects,” Los Angeles Times Magazine, September 25, 2005, p. 34-38
  2. ^ Interview with Lawrence Scarpa at Volume V 1999
  3. ^ Interview with Lawrence Scarpa at National Building Museum 2010
  4. ^ Lawrence Scarpa, The Survival of The Sarasota School, Public Access Press, Ed. Talbot McLanahan and Sophie Smits, 2000
  5. ^ Architects List
  6. ^ Morris Newman, “Thinking Outside the Box,” Los Angeles Times, June 23, 1998, p. D-10
  7. ^ Larry Scarpa, “EV 04: Emerging Voices,” The Architectural League Lecture Series, The Architectural League of New York, March 4, 2004
  9. ^ Lawrence Scarpa and Chris Ghatak, “The Material Inquiry of Construction,” Dimensions Twenty-One, 2008, p. 120-127 Ed. Z.W. AbuSeir & J. Dembski,
  10. ^ US Dept of Energy Case Study
  11. ^ a b American Institute of Architects Committee on the Environment Top Ten Green Buildings
  12. ^ Lawrence Scarpa, “In Search of Jolly Green Giant,” OZ Vol. 25, 2003, p. 80-85
  13. ^ University of Tennessee College of Architecture

External links[edit]

Media related to Lawrence Scarpa at Wikimedia Commons