a photograph of a biography of artist Robert Irwin

The Book That Helped Shape Angie Brooks’ View on Architecture

The co-principal of Brooks+Scarpa reflects on the biography that influences her practice to this day.

I read Seeing Is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees (1982) in the early ’90s during graduate school in Southern California, and it had a profound impact on how I view architecture, the shape of cities, and the people who live in them. The book is a decades-long interview by author Lawrence Weschler with the artist Bob Irwin, who wanted his art to be experienced and not photographed. 

Eschewing art-as-object, Irwin had a steadfast belief that how one experiences and perceives art could fundamentally alter the way one sees the larger real world. Other artists shared this view, including James Turrell, who manipulated light and space to frame nature, which elevates our ability to actually see it. Society tends to label, making it easier to disregard or look the other way. I try to flip the label and make the ordinary extraordinary, bringing art to those who lack access and healing rather than tearing apart.

A portrait of Angie Brooks
Angie Brooks is co-principal of design firm Brooks + Scarpa, and a leader who believes everyone deserves to be close to art and nature. Her firm has received over 200 major design awards, and in 2020, Brooks received the AIA California Maybeck Award for exemplary achievement in architectural design, making her the first woman to earn the recognition.

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