Filling the Voids: Using Landscape to Transform Scale and Define Experience at Great 8

The Marina Arts District has come online in recent years as an area transformed for a youthful live-work population. Lined with loft like buildings that signal its former light industrial past, the area is defined by an aesthetic of industrial materials that bridge the past and future of this reemerging neighborhood.

A local real estate developer, California Landmark, is building 230 apartments in this burgeoning area adjacent to Marina del Rey. The development, called Great 8 or G8, is representative of the new, high-density housing developments that are starting to define this area, albeit at a larger scale.

 An initial sketch explores the massing ideas which led to the final design and landscape concept

An initial sketch explores the massing ideas which led to the final design and landscape concept

When the client engaged Rios Clementi Hale Studios as design consultants to define the visual character of the project, we knew that landscape could be more than just a visual element, but a vital component to interrupt the scale of a very large, dense building.

In order to stitch the massive 250,000 SF project into the existing neighborhood fabric of adjacent small 1- and 2-story houses, offices, and light industrial buildings, we first organized the building into an assemblage of 7-8 smaller blocks with individual but complimentary architectural characters.

 

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Because G8 has frontage on three different streets – Beach, Glencoe, and Del Rey — we placed a different character at each street, giving the sense of smaller-scaled buildings creating the project. We then began to weave the landscape through the entire project into the voids and terraces created between the building blocks.

The three primary scale-breaking landscape strategies are the common theme to nest this project in among its neighbors:

 

 An aerial view of Great 8 shows the Pocket Park at top left, along withe the elevated walkways and elevated courtyards that define place in this development

An aerial view of Great 8 shows the Pocket Park at top left, along withe the elevated walkways and elevated courtyards that define place in this development

01: Pocket Park

The pocket park is the front door of the property, and the landscape that originates here is then pulled up and through the other public spaces, connecting them to nature and scaling the large building at every vantage point.

A way to give back to the community, the pocket park provides central outdoor space for both residents of the project and the neighborhood at-large. By carving out space from the ground level, and slipping a park discretely into the site, it provides an additional amenity to augment the lifestyle sought out by residents of this area.   

 

 The street view along Beach demonstrates the scale-breaking strategies used to create harmony with lower-scale structures in the area

The street view along Beach demonstrates the scale-breaking strategies used to create harmony with lower-scale structures in the area

 

02: Elevated Courtyards

Three elevated courtyards atop the second story of the building are designed to have different characteristics, making them distinct from one another as they face different areas of Los Angeles. These courtyards serve a larger purpose by establishing zones within building centered around each courtyard. Around each, a feeling of “neighborhoods” within building is further emphasized by planting palettes that correspond to the amount of sunlight received.

 

 Each elevation, in this case along Del Rey, conveys a different look and feel, which combined with the landscape strategy for scale-breaking the property

Each elevation, in this case along Del Rey, conveys a different look and feel, which combined with the landscape strategy for scale-breaking the property

 

03: Open Walkways

Throughout Great 8, elevated, open air walkways connect the entire building, replete with trees and plantings that further introduce landscape at every level of the vertical community.

 

 Elevated courtyards are visible from Glencoe and combine with private terraces to create a dynamic facade

Elevated courtyards are visible from Glencoe and combine with private terraces to create a dynamic facade

When Great 8 is complete in 2019, Marina Arts District will inevitably look different than it does today as it progresses away from its industrial roots towards a lifestyle destination. Our hope is that the new constant in the area is this model of dense city living that still allows its residents to feel connected to nature through innovative urban landscape design.

 

Rios Clementi Hale Studios was hired by California Landmark as design consultant for G8. PK Architecture is serving as the Executive Architect.

Sebastian Salvadó