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.

Los Angeles International Design Center
Photo courtesy Architectural Resources Group

Los Angeles International Design Center

Designed to be the nerve center and showplace of the decorative furnishings industry, the building became the nexus of interior design and architecture in L.A. upon its completion in 1964.
Photo by Michael Locke

Kubly House

Sitting in an old eucalyptus grove, the giant trees providing privacy for the transparent house, this post-and-beam residence is a spare, horizontal box that is lifted pavilion-like off the ground.