Pugh + Scarpa - Design Bureau

dan says:

In 2011 Pugh + Scarpa changed its name to Brooks + Scarpa to reflect the current leadership of the firm.


dan says:


On Thursday June 10th, 2010 Pugh + Scarpa received the 2010 National American Institute of Architects Firm Award during the Awards Ceremony at the National American Institute of Architects Convention in Miami, Florida. Above is the link to a short video that was shown during the ceremony. This award is the highest honor an architecture firm can receive.

Design Bureau says:

Thanks for the comment Kenny, we appreciate your insight. You are correct and Design Bureau regrets the error. We’re thrilled you enjoyed this issue and hope to have you as a continued reader!

Pugh + Scarpa is one of best firm’s in the States, always inventive with an acute awareness of space, materiality, and detail. Solar Umbrella is no exception to that commitment and it has won numerous awards and helped make Pugh + Scarpa AIA’s Firm of the Year award this year.

I just came across Design Bureau this morning and so far, it’s looking like a great and in depth resource for a multitude of design fields. Having a background in architecture, I feel slightly obligated to make a comment on the inaccurate statements in the article about LEED. First, only buildings are LEED certified, not materials. Although this building is very sustainable, with some quick research, it doesn’t appear to be LEED certified. Second, LEED certified materials do not exist. Certain materials, regional or recycled, may contribute to attaining credits, but no materials should be referred to as LEED certified.

I hope to have helped… looking forward to more design insight from you guys.

Pugh + Scarpa

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

How does architectural firm Pugh + Scarpa turn a dilapidated old house into an award-winning sustainable structure without tearing it down?

By rebuilding it from the inside with LEED certified materials and creating a sun-harnessing “Solar Umbrella”. Architect Larry Scarpa is used to seeing homes torn down to make way for something new, but when he saw one project in particular, he decided it was worth hanging on to. “It was considered to be a tear down, but we saw potential in it in the form of a remodel,” says Scarpa, co-founder of California-based Pugh + Scarpa. “We knew immediately that it was a place that we could eventually make a real home."

The thing with using these materials is that they have homogeneous cores, meaning it’s the actual material all the way through. If you scratch it, you can simply sand out the scratch.

So, rather than tearing down the structure completely, Scarpa and partner Gwynne Pugh gutted the interior and left the shell of the home intact. They then expanded the living area with an addition that changed the orientation of the house by 180 degrees, which allowed for cross ventilation, open shading, radiant heating and bountiful daylight in every room. To facilitate the construction involved in the rebuild, the architects used only LEED certified materials, including recycled steel panels, decompressed granite and gravel hardscape, homosode walls made with recycled newsprint and cabinets made from recycled wood chips. “The thing with using these materials is that they have homogeneous cores, meaning it’s the actual material all the way through. If you scratch it, you can simply sand out the scratch,” explains Scarpa. These homogenous materials also allow for a long lifespan and extremely high durability.

In keeping with the sustainable theme, Pugh and Scarpa made solar technology the basis for all of the home’s power. They designed the interior of the house to be fully encased in what Scarpa refers to as a “solar skin”—a large, operable wall of glass solar panels that wrap around the south side of the home and onto the porch. This flexible, canopy-like structure of panels was designed to harness the sun’s rays to create power for the entire house, including energy-eating appliances like dishwashers and televisions. Pugh and Scarpa named their design project the ‘Solar Umbrella’, taking inspiration from American architect Paul Rudolph’s 1953 Umbrella House, which also utilized solar technology.

The Solar Umbrella project earned Pugh + Scarpa many accolades and awards for its forward-thinking technology, including AIA/COTE’s Top Ten Green Project, the AIA National Honor Award, and the AIA National Housing Award. It also became the personal residence for Scarpa and his wife (and principle architect at his namesake firm), Angela Brooks, putting an interesting spin on the old saying that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Although Pugh + Scarpa’s Solar Umbrella started out as somebody’s idea of trash, with some good design work and sustainable technology, is now one couple’s very treasured home.

Engineering Great Design

Structural engineering is a part of the process from the start of every Pugh + Scarpa project. “Pugh + Scarpa can solve a lot of questions in houses during the design phase, as they are designing while being structurally sound, and yet they tend to push the limits of what structural engineering can do, which is exciting and challenging,” says Sandy Becker of Becker General Contractors. She worked with Pugh + Scarpa on the Solar Umbrella project. As Gwynne Pugh explains, “A lot of projects are design build right now. The interaction between so many different professions and areas of expertise is becoming very important. We want our projects to encompass all of these capabilities.” Partner Larry Scarpa notes that Gwynne Pugh’s background in structural engineering proved to be invaluable in reimagining his home.

Photos courtesy of Pugh + Scarpa


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