The Board of Directors and the Strategic Council of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) are honoring Angela Brooks, FAIA, and Lawrence Scarpa, FAIA, with the 2022 Gold Medal.
The Gold Medal honors an individual or pair whose significant body of work has had a lasting influence on the theory and practice of architecture. Brooks and Scarpa share a common lineage of humble, blue-collar families hailing from small Central Florida towns and eventually met while studying architecture at the University of Florida in Gainesville. Scarpa had recently returned to Florida to pursue his graduate studies after working with Paul Rudolph in New York, and Brooks was completing her undergraduate work.
The duo married in 1987 and eventually moved to California, where Brooks attended graduate school at SCI-Arc, and Scarpa began working with Gwynne Pugh, FAIA. After several years of working together, they founded Pugh + Scarpa in 1991, a small three-person office. The firm quickly grew to a staff of more than 20 and attracted national attention for its finely crafted work. Brooks launched her career with the Los Angeles Community Design Center, a nonprofit design and affordable housing developer, where she leveraged policy and design to tackle issues surrounding housing and homelessness.
Following a decade of nonprofit work and the birth of their son Calder in 1999, Brooks joined Scarpa and Pugh as a firm principal. Though her name was absent from the firm’s marquee at the time, she played a pivotal role in work that garnered the firm nearly a dozen AIA design awards and the 2010 Architecture Firm Award.
Following Pugh’s exit in 2011, the firm was renamed Brooks + Scarpa to reflect its new leadership. While the firm’s two histories will always remain intertwined, Brooks and Scarpa have pursued personal and professional aspirations—academia, volunteerism, mentoring, collaborative practice—that have positioned them in an uncharted realm for most practicing architects. Together they have founded organizations such as Livable Places, The A+D Museum in Los Angeles, and the Affordable Housing Design Leadership Institute.
No matter the budget, size, or background, the pair espouse the philosophy that design is not mutually exclusive and holds the potential to enrich everyone. Their socially engaged approach to design excellence led to their receipt of the Smithsonian Cooper Hewitt National Award in Architecture in 2014. The award lauded their ability to synthesize design and engagement to deliver affordable housing and sustainable architecture that advances equity for the benefit of society.
Together, Brooks and Scarpa continually redefine the role of an architect. They are potent form seekers and socially responsible practitioners, a combination not easily replicated. As they expand the boundaries of practice and chart an architectural path that is equally didactic and successful, Brooks and Scarpa have made a clear and profound impact on the practice of architecture.
Visit AIA’s website to learn more about Brooks and Scarpa’s selection as the 2022 AIA Gold Medalist.