American Institute of Architects, Santa Barbara chapter will host a seminar called Dense-City: Housing for Quality of Life and Social Change, 6-7:30 p.m. Oct. 21 at Santa Barbara City College Main West Campus, Business Communication Center, FeBland Forum.

The program will explore new models that have transformed affordable and low-income housing into cutting-edge architecture.

Low-income affordable housing used to mean fortress-like structures that were soulless and cheaply built. Today, there is a growing interest among architects who have spawned new and innovative approaches to affordable housing that are well-designed and incorporate a combination of creative social programming, cutting-edge forms and materials, sustainable design and a keen sense of aesthetic.

Until the 1980s, almost all low-income housing in the country was built by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, designed with an eye to quantity, not quality. Today, good design is a cornerstone of thriving homes and communities of all incomes and backgrounds.

“Good design actually has therapeutic value,” according to Mike Alvidrez, executive director for Skid Row Housing Trust.

The seminar will examine, discuss and show examples of how new models and current trends in affordable and low-income housing design have produced innovative and cutting-edge designs, and how they have improved cities and communities.

The event will showcase examples of extraordinary low-income and affordable housing projects and discuss their relevance to good community, neighborhood and urban design today. The seminar will also demonstrate how hi-design affordable housing architecture can help create more equitable societies.

Speaking at the event will be Angela Brooks and Lawrence Scarpa, of Brooks + Scarpa Architects, recipients of the 2022 National AIA Gold Medal. Brooks is only the third woman to receive this award, and she and Scarpa are only the second duo. Brooks is also the recipient of the 2020 AIA California Maybeck Award, and the first female recipient.

Brooks + Scarpa is a collective of architects, designers and creative thinkers dedicated to enhancing the human experience. Honored with the Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt National Design Award, the firm is a multi-disciplinary practice that includes architecture, landscape architecture, planning, environmental design, materials research, graphic, furniture and interior design services.

They have garnered international acclaim for the creative use of conventional materials in unique ways. They are also considered pioneers and leaders in the field of sustainable design.

Their awards include the State of California and National American Institute of Architects (AIA) Architecture Firm Award, AIA Los Angeles Gold Medal, National Citizen Architect, Rudy Brunner Prize, Interior Design Magazine’s Lifetime Achievement Award, and six National AIA Committee on the Environment Top Ten Green Building awards.

Brooks + Scarpa also received the $4.5 million Housing Innovation Challenge Grant awarded by Los Angeles County for innovative and scalable solutions to homelessness.

Register for event at A pre-event book signing and architect’s reception will be held 6-5 p.m. on the FeBland Forum Patio, hosted by DMHA Architecture + Interior Design.

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