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Renowned Architect Todd DeGarmo Settles Into His Custom Laurel Park Home

It's the first time DeGarmo, the CEO Emeritus of STUDIOS Architecture, got to design a home for himself.

By Kim Doleatto April 12, 2024

Todd DeGarmo

Considering its smallish size, Sarasota’s concentration of architectural finesse is high. And its architectural acclaim didn’t end with the Sarasota School of Architecture, the renowned post-World War II architectural movement.

Take Todd DeGarmo, for example. He's an acclaimed architect who could build a home just about anywhere, but he chose Laurel Park in Sarasota.

“If you’re an architect, you’ve probably heard of this place,” he says of our city.

1702 Oak St. in Laurel Park.

If you don’t know DeGarmo’s name, you might know the buildings he’s worked on. He’s CEO Emeritus of Washington, D.C.-based STUDIOS Architecture, which he led for more than 20 years. STUDIOS the firm behind Sony Corporation of America's, Time Inc.'s and Coach's headquarters, plus the interior of Bloomberg. He’s also helped develop work models for Orrick LLP, the Pentagon, the Department of Defense and Dow Jones, and led teams working on the Kingman Island Environmental Education Center and the renovation of the Headquarters for the American Institute of Architects, both in Washington, DC.

The main home and accessory dwelling unit span roughly 2,613 square feet.

He’s also a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects and a member of the Interior Design Hall of Fame. And although he stepped down from his role as CEO of STUDIOS in 2022, DeGarmo still works with the firm, which now has offices in Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Paris, France, and Lyon, France.

Plus, in case you missed it, STUDIOS Architecture was one of three finalists in the recent local design challenge to "reimagine" New College’s I.M. Pei Dorms–check out its design ideas here

DeGarmo designed much of the home's furniture.

Despite all that experience, his Laurel Park home is the first the 68-year-old has designed for himself from the ground up. Although accustomed to working on “big commercial, mixed-use projects,” he says, his home isn’t palatial, like the ones often found on our priciest annual homes list. “I knew I had to keep it simple, and the zoning in the neighborhood is tight so that houses need to be a bit specific,” he explains.

"If you look at a lot of the homes here, they sit back off the street and have this front garden that's sort of a gift to the neighborhood," he says.

Inside, his home is not enormous—but it is all about the details. "It’s the first time I could ask myself, 'How would I like to live?'" he says. "There’s a lot of joy about that for an architect."


The empty lot he bought in Laurel Park was an opportunity, but one with limits. “At least 15 percent of the front facade has to be windows, and a third of the front has to be a porch, and the limit is two stories," he says. "The zoning encourages you to float a box in the middle. I pushed it as far as I could to one corner of the site and turned it into an L shape with sliding glass walls that open onto the pool, and courtyard for a serene world outside." He liked the design so much that he also bought the lot next door. For now, it remains vacant green space. 

The courtyard

What he did build reads modern. Shellcrete floors flow seamlessly from space to space. Each room is a different color, "though soft," DeGarmo notes. "We broke up the floor with separators and made sure they lined up with the beams in the ceiling and sliding glass doors." Working with Sarasota-based builder Jonas Yoder, "we worked hard to make things seem effortless," he says. 

Each bedroom has a unique character. "The architecture I do is very program-driven. I'm creating experiences in my work, so I wanted to do the same thing with the house," he says. For example, one room has twin beds and built-in seating, with an ensuite bathroom anchored by a large tub for his nieces and nephews.

The room the younger family kids favor.

Because Sarasota is such a destination and family gathering place, he also built a one-bedroom, one-bathroom accessory dwelling unit above the garage, behind the home, for added privacy.


After initially pondering living in the Harbor Acres neighborhood during his search for a home in Sarasota, he noted that many huge new houses were raised above the flood plain to respect hurricane safety codes. "I didn't want a looming McMansion over me," he says of his decision to build in Laurel Park.

And he loves the neighborhood's walkability—especially after a recent heart transplant.

“It's an optimistic procedure that's different than being on chemotherapy or dialysis, which can eventually overpower [your body],” he says. “The moment you open your eyes with a new heart, there’s oxygen to your brain and you see nuance. All of this comes from that optimism—and there’s so much more to discover with the city. This neighborhood is a great base to do that from.”

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