Marina City Club

The Marina City Club is more than just a collection of residences housed in a glass building, it is a symbol of architectural ambition, economic development, and a thriving community.

In 2017, we were chosen to renovate the club’s communal heart. The complex’s deck has hosted events, recreation, and relaxation for its many residents since first opening in 1978 . However, as times have changed, so have the needs of those who use this outdoor space.

Our role has been to modernize the destination with more defined but fluid spaces that can support both everyday use and special events, and encourage interaction between older and younger residents.

An Unexpected Architectural Gem

In the development of our design, we took cues from a variety of sources, referencing the site’s history, the different activities of the marina, the ocean side environs, and the existing architecture. Of note, the Marina City Club buildings, three glass-clad circular structures, are part of a very important moment in architectural history. In researching the property, we learned that they are not just any glass towers, but rather among the earliest glass membrane buildings designed by renowned architecture firm DMJM, which at the time was led by Anthony Lumsden and Cesar Pelli, two of the world’s most influential architects. By reversing the mullions to face inward rather than outward, DMJM’s system enabled completely new ways of enveloping buildings in glass to create the smooth curtain walls we see on so many modern buildings today.

Circles and Arcs

Given the Marina City Club’s architectural significance, it was clear that our design solution needed to respond to all the intricacies attached to the property. As we distilled all our findings, no other geometries were as apparent as the circle and arc—the buildings are arcs in plan , dock lines and rope are coiled in a circle or figure-eight, the shape of sails are arcs, people tend to congregate in a circle or semi-circles when socializing, puddles left by oarsman are series of circles and arcs , boat hulls are arcs, and how water moves around objects is, too, arc-like.

From these references, in addition to the insight we gleaned from our interviews with the facility’s current users and managers, we drew out a set of tools and strategies that allowed us to formulate the architectural response seen here.