Brooks + Scarpa | DENSE-CITY: Housing for Quality of Life and Social Capital
Exhibition | October 19 – December 14, 2019
Airport Gallery | 3026 Airport Ave, Santa Monica

On October 19, 2019 from 5-8 PM at 18th Street Arts Center’s Airport Campus (3026 Airport Ave, Santa Monica), a new exhibition from Los Angeles architecture studio Brooks + Scarpa will open in the Airport Gallery. DENSE-CITY: Housing for Quality of Life and Social Capital, which will be on view through December 14, is an exhibition of projects exploring urban development, cultural equity, and access to public space. DENSE-CITYis a way of thinking about how we live. Many factors that come together to shape the built environment: how a building faces the street, its height, its spaces within and circulation patterns. None has a larger impact on neighborhoods and cities as a whole than density. The exhibition features models, plans, visualizations, and drawings from two decades of projects addressing sustainable compact housing development and creation of affordable, vibrant, healthy communities through advocacy, innovation, and building. 

In conjunction with the exhibition, 18th Street will invite the architects to participate in ongoing dialogue with local and international resident artists, Santa Monica city planning officials, visiting architects and LA-based artists, architects, and planners. A public panel on the future of affordable cities will take place on November 12 from 6-8 PMin the exhibition.

This exhibition is organized by 18th Street Arts Center and is part of the organization’s ambitious Commons LabPlace and Public Lifeinitiative. 

Traditionally measured by population figures, density at the neighborhood level is best characterized by how buildings, transport, and ultimately people are arranged on the street. Throughout Los Angeles, a critical look at density, both how it is measured and how it is formed, is needed to create positive growth in our communities.

The effects of increased housing costs continue to cripple urban areas throughout the country, with the supply of new, affordable housing failing to keep up with demand. In Los Angeles, new housing models are needed to create livable, dense communities addressing the region’s need for affordable housing. Understanding density and its relationship to the city will begin to inform these new housing models in a manner that is sensitive to the need to house increasing populations without displacing existing communities. Only by making connections between disparate elements and working towards designing cities as a comprehensive whole can sustainable approaches to affordable housing be created. 

Interdisciplinary approaches that combine practiced solutions with innovative methods are needed to address the increasingly challenging issues of housing development today. Illustrating the possibilities inherent within the existing urban fabric, DENSE-CITYinvites communities to rethink their neighborhoods and policy makers to tailor existing zoning to new uses and new ways of living.


18th Street Arts Center presents Commons Lab: Place and Public Life, a series of five new artist commissions anchored by live events, which will consider the roles that institutional architecture and cultural policy play in determining the social life and civic engagement of American communities. Using the Center’s rapidly changing Pico neighborhood in Santa Monica as a test case, the participating artists—Brooks + Scarpa,Cognate Collective (Amy Sanchez and Misael Gio Diaz), Sara Daleiden, Guillermo Galindo with Postcommodity (Cristóbal Martínez/Kade L. Twist), Renée Petropoulos and Arturo Hernández, and Jimena Sarno—will engage art audiences and local communities in a dialogue about the role art should play in the public sphere. The projectis informed by Postcommodity’s “2043” initiative, an ongoing investigation into the U.S.’s postcolonial future in which non-white populations will become the majority nationwide. For Commons Lab, artists will envision new models of cultural institutions that are capable of destabilizing traditional hierarchies between the more informed, “core,” audiences of contemporary art and the larger public—breaking down barriers to broaden participation. The artists’ findings will be presented in exhibitions of drawings, sculpture, installation, social practices, sound art, and digital media, as well as through public programs such as dinners, workshops, and panel discussions with local partners, including the Santa Monica Public Library and Santa Monica High student groups.


Brooks + Scarpa is a collective of architects, designers and creative thinkers dedicated to enhancing the human experience. Honored with the 2014 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 that produces innovative, sustainable iconic buildings and urban environments. Awarded the 2010 State of California and National American Institute of Architecture Firm Award for nineteen years of consistently exemplary work seamlessly blending architecture, art and craft, Brooks + Scarpa has also garnered international acclaim for the creative use of materials in unique and unexpected ways. The firm has also been recognized for pioneering more holistic approaches to delivering award winning environmentally responsive designs. Brooks + Scarpa are recipients of the 2019 Los Angeles County Housing Innovation Challenge in partnership with Community Corporation of Santa Monica and Plant Prefab to build Nest, an innovative long-term housing solution for unsheltered citizens.



Opening Reception
October 19, 2019 | 5 – 8 PM
Airport Gallery | 3026 Airport Ave, Santa Monica

The Future of Affordable Cities – Panel
November 12 | 6-8 PM

Airport Gallery | 3026 Airport Ave, Santa Monica


Celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2018-2019, 18th Street Arts Center is one of the top 20 artist residency programs in the US, and the largest in Southern California. Conceived as a radical think tank in the shape of an artist community, 18th Street supports artists from around the globe to imagine, research, and develop significant, meaningful new artworks and share them with the public. We strive to provide artists the space and time to take risks, to foster the ideal environment for artists and the public to directly engage, and to create experiences and partnerships that foster positive social change.

Form Magazine

Author: Form Magazine

FORM: pioneering design, a publication that celebrates Southern California’s contribution to architecture, design, and the visual arts.