Pugh + Scarpa AIA Firm Award 2010
by Brian Libby
It's not easy to pigeonhole Pugh + Scarpa Architects. And that's the way partners Gwynne Pugh, Larry Scarpa, and Angela Brooks like it.
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The buildings they create are dynamic, many with colorful, angular, patterned facades that exude a sense of whimsical energy. Even at its most eye-catching, the work is also decisively rooted in function and energy efficiency. The firm has also established a substantial portfolio of affordable housing projects.
Founded in 1984, Pugh + Scarpa first received attention in the 1990s and 2000s for an imaginative series of Hollywood production company offices involving such unconventional materials as ping-pong balls and Dixie cups. In addition to designing such quintessentially "Los Angeles" projects, the Santa Monica, California-based firm has embraced risk and change by branching out into the residential and public sectors.
This synergy of design excellence, community involvement, and attention to sustainability earned the firm the 2010 AIA Architecture Firm Award from the American Institute of Architects. In receiving this, the highest honor the AIA bestows on a firm, Pugh + Scarpa joins past award-winners including Olson Sundberg Kundig Allen, Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, Gwathmey Siegel & Associates, The Architects' Collaborative, and fellow Santa Monica firm Moore Ruble Yudell.
Beginnings: An Odd Couple
Welshman Gwynne Pugh began his career at Posford Pavry & Partners, a London engineering firm. After earning his bachelor's degree in architectural engineering at Leeds University in 1975, he came to the United States to study architecture at the University of California, Los Angeles. He worked in the L.A. area for a few years before forming a small firm in 1984, and established a reputation for engineering and construction expertise as well as design. In 1988, Pugh hired Scarpa, who would within three years become a full partner.
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Solar panels decorate Colorado Court in Santa Monica, California, designed by Pugh + Scarpa Architects, recipient of the 2010 AIA Architecture Firm Award.
Photo: Marvin Rand
The LEED Gold-certified Colorado Court (2002) is a 44-unit single-room-occupancy (SRO) housing project.
Photo: Marvin Rand
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