BERGAMOT STATION — After a 22-year partnership, the founders of noted Santa Monica architecture firm Pugh + Scarpa, which this year won the prestigious AIA Firm Award, have decided to go their separate ways.
Headed by Gwynne Pugh, who also sits on City Hall’s Planning Commission, and Lawrence Scarpa, the firm, formed in 1991, was responsible for a number of significant projects in Santa Monica. Pugh + Scarpa was involved with the master design of the Bergamot Arts Center and won national recognition for Colorado Court, an affordable housing project for Santa Monica Community Corp. at 502 Colorado Ave. that incorporates solar panels and other sustainable features. Recently, the firm designed improvements at Santa Monica’s City Hall-owned Downtown parking structures, including the structures attached to Santa Monica Place mall.
Pugh left the firm Sept. 1 to start a new venture, Gwynne Pugh Urban Studio. He said he plans to practice traditional architecture as well as continue his work as a design consultant for public entities such as San Diego’s Centre City Development Corp. and the city of Long Beach.
Pugh declined to discuss the reason for his departure. Scarpa could not be reached on Monday, but earlier told the Architectural Record the split “has not been a nasty divorce,” attributing it to “artistic differences.”
“I don’t see it as a hiccup or a left-hand-turn, or anything like that. It’s just part of the natural evolution of where I’m going with the firm,” Scarpa said.
Scarpa plans to continue leading the firm along with Angela Brooks, a principal in the firm since 1999. The firm will change its name to Brooks + Scarpa next year.
In an interview, Pugh said he became more interested in consulting with public entities during the city of Santa Monica’s general plan update process, which concluded in June with the adoption of the Land Use and Circulation Element (LUCE), a framework that will guide Santa Monica’s development for the next 20 years.
“Over the last [several] years I’ve been really intrigued by the public process that we’ve gone through in Santa Monica and have really felt that the process of architecture needs to be really expanded,” he said. “Most architects don’t get sufficiently involved in their environment.”
Joan Ling, executive director of Community Corp., said both Pugh and Scarpa “do their work because they love design and they care about the environment. It’s not about just producing something for the client.”