Colorado Court / Brooks + Scarpa

Courtesy of

The award winning, LEEDTM Gold Certified, Colorado Court by Brooks + Scarpa is 100% energy independent, distinguishing itself from most conventionally developed projects. Implementing energy efficient measures above and beyond the standard practices of the time, this project was able to optimize its building performance and ensure reduced energy use during all phases of construction and continuing upon occupancy.

The initial planning and design of Colorado Court was a direct derivative of an emphasis on passive solar design strategies. These strategies include: locating and orienting the building to control solar cooling loads; shaping and orienting the building for exposure to prevailing winds; shaping the building to induce buoyancy for natural ventilation; designing windows to maximize daylighting; shading south facing windows and minimizing west-facing glazing; designing windows to maximize natural ventilation; shaping and planning the interior to enhance daylight and natural air flow distribution.

More details, photographs, and drawings following the break.

Architects: Brooks + Scarpa
Location: 502 Colorado Avenue, Santa Monica, California,
Project-in-Charge: Lawrence Scarpa, AIA
Project Architect: Angela Brooks, AIA
Project Team: Gwynne Pugh, AIA, Anne Marie Burke, Heather Duncan, Vanessa Hardy, Bettina Hermsen, Tim Peterson, Ching Luk, Jackson Butler, Steve Kodama, FAIA
Project Energy Engineer: Dr. John G. Ingersoll of Helios International Inc
Structural Engineering: Youssef Associates
MEP Engineering: Storms and Lowe
Landscape Architects: Dry Design, Inc
Client: Community Corporation of Santa Monica
Project Area: 30,150 sqf
Project Year: 2002
Photographs: Courtesy of Brooks + Scarpa

Courtesy of Brooks + Scarpa

The program for this single resident occupancy housing project includes:

• 44 single resident occupancy units (375 square feet max per unit)
• Community Room
• Mail Room
• Outdoor common courtyard spaces @ ground level and 2nd level
• On-grade covered parking for 20 cars
• Bike Storage

Courtesy of Brooks + Scarpa
cross ventilation diagram

Colorado Court features several state of the art technologies that distinguish it as a model demonstration building of sustainable energy supply and utilization. These technologies include a natural gas powered turbine/heat recovery system that generate the base electrical load and hot water demands for the building and a solar electric panel system integrated into the façade and roof of the building that supply most of the peak load electricity demand.

Courtesy of Brooks + Scarpa
wind diagram

The co-generation system converts utility natural gas to electricity to meet the base load power needs of the building and captures waste heat to produce hot water for the building throughout the year as well as space heating needs in the winter. This system has a conversion efficiency of natural gas in excess of 85% compared to a less than 30% conversion efficiency of primary energy delivered by the utility grid at the building site.


The solar photovoltaic system produces green electricity at the building site that releases no pollutants to the environment. The panels are integral to the building envelope and unused solar electricity is delivered to the grid during the daytime and retrieved from the grid at night as needed. These systems will pay for themselves in less than ten years and annual savings in electricity and natural gas bills are estimated to be in excess of $6000.

Courtesy of Brooks + Scarpa

Colorado Court received the following awards: 2003 National AIA Design Award, 2003 AIACC Award, 2003 AIA/LA Award, 2003 Rudy Bruner Prize, 2003 World Habitat Award Finalist, 2003 AIA COTE “Top Ten Green Building” Award, 2003 AIA PIA National Housing Award, SCANPH “Project of the Year”, 2002 Westside Urban Prize, LEEDTM “Gold” Certified and was published in over 100 journals and books.

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Cite: "Colorado Court / Brooks + Scarpa" 19 Nov 2010. ArchDaily. Accessed 22 May 2015. <>
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