Marina del Rey | Los Angeles Conservancy
Marina del Rey
Photo by ravitch on Flickr

Marina del Rey

Developers had been eyeing the Ballona Wetlands area as a prime location for a harbor since the late nineteenth century, but it wasn't until 1953 that any plans actually started becoming reality. That year, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors authorized a loan to fund construction of a marina, and an unusual public-private partnership began development of Marina del Rey, "The Harbor of the King." Architect Victor Gruen was hired to create the master plan for this 780-acre area, which includes one of the largest manmade small craft harbors in the world.

After years of work, delayed somewhat by a destructive winter storm in 1962-1963, Marina del Rey was officially dedicated in 1965. The marina-centered community includes restaurants, shops, hotels, and multi-family residential housing in both low- and high-rise buildings. It is a veritable treasure trove of 1960s architecture, ranging from the Polynesian-style Pieces of Eight restaurant (now Shanghai Red's) to pristine Mid-Century Modern apartment buildings. The area exemplifies the ideals of seaside resort living at mid-century and is fascinating from a cultural perspective as well as from a planning perspective. Redevelopment seems to be a constant at Marina del Rey, so many of its original buildings are threatened by new construction—if you haven't seen them yet, now is a good time.

Photo courtesy Architectural Resources Group

Office Building

A lovely example of Mid-Century Modern architecture in a low-rise, commercial context, easy to miss in the abundance of eye-catching architecture on Ventura Boulevard.