'Eminent Architect' judging seniors' final projects

Seniors in Mississippi State's School of Architecture may feel both relief and anxiety with the completion of their final projects, and the anticipation of their designs being reviewed before graduation.

This semester, the stakes may be even higher since a nationally renowned architect will be judging these important assignments Monday [April 18] in the Fazio Jury Room of Giles Hall. The public viewing is from 1-5 p.m.

Lawrence "Larry" Scarpa is serving this semester as the school's first Eminent Architect of Practice. He will be an adjudicator for the senior-level studio capstone projects, having also taught the students for the past four months.

Scarpa, a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects, is founding partner and principal architect with Los Angeles-based Brooks + Scarpa (formerly Pugh + Scarpa). His firm was named the American Institute of Architects 2010 Firm of the Year, the most prestigious honor of the profession in North America.

Since 2001, Scarpa's firm has received more than 50 major design awards, including 16 national AIA awards, and the 2006 and 2003 AIA Committee on the Environment Top Ten Green Building Award. His work is known as "environmentally sustainable," employing new materials, digital practices and technologies.

School director Michael Berk said the visiting faculty position is a new program established to bring a distinguished award-winning architect of contemporary practice to MSU. Berk also is the school's F. L. Crane Professor.

"The students could not have asked for a more accomplished architect who also happens to bring along an impressive teaching resume at prominent architectural institutions across the country," Berk said.

"By accepting our invitation to teach and critique our students, Larry further validates MSU's architecture program and also opens the door for our students as they move into the profession," he added.

Fourth-year architecture student Courtney A. Bolden of Madison, whose project will be judged by Scarpa, said she appreciates having an outside, professional perspective.

"It's great having him here," she said. "It's a little intimidating, but he does a good job of critiquing us and gives very helpful ideas."

Scarpa is considered a national pioneer and leader in sustainable design. His Colorado Court project in Santa Monica was the first multi-family housing project in the U.S. to be LEED certified. And his Solar Umbrella house in Venice was cited as one of the most important houses of this century.

Both Golden State projects remain the only ones in the history of the AIA to win the professional organization's AIA design award, as well as an AIA COTE Top Ten Green Building Award and a national AIA special interest award for a single project.

Since 1987, Scarpa has taught, lectured and held visiting professorships at such institutions as Washington University in St. Louis, Mo., and the universities of California -- Los Angeles, Florida, Arkansas, and Michigan.

In 2004, he was named the "Emerging Voice" in architecture by the Architectural League of New York, and his work recently was exhibited at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C.

Two years ago, he received Interior Design magazine's "Lifetime Achievement" Award.

Harriet Laird | University Relations

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