Marina City Club Condominiums

Surfside 70s

Marina City Club Condominiums

Marina del Rey, California 90292, United States

Created By: Friends Of Residential Treasures: Los Angeles



Anthony J. Lumsden

Why is it on the Trail?

The firm Daniel, Mann, Johnson, and Mendenhall, or DMJM, was a prolific contributor to Los Angeles’s late modern architectural landscape. Two of its principal architects, Cesar Pelli and Anthony Lumsden, developed the mirror glass skin technology that came to define Late Modernism in the popular imagination, thereby solidifying Los Angeles as a center of architectural innovation during this period. Their Federal Aviation Administration building, the first designed in all-over mirror glass, and the Donald C. Tillman Water Reclamation Plant, Lumsden’s futuristic tribute to a growing environmental movement, are standout contributions. As stated by the Los Angeles Conservancy, “The designers and engineers at DMJM distinguished the firm by challenging the conventions of building exteriors often found in office and industrial buildings.”

The Marina City Club Condominiums were built between 1970 and 1978 on land leased from the city in Marina Del Rey, and they reflect the variety of architectural expressions coming out of the firm at that time. Lumsden directed the design and local architect William Overpeck (whose work during this period deserves attention) served as project manager. Comprised of 600 units organized into three pairs of C-shaped luxury towers, this massive complex is an exercise in circles within circles, from the rooftop decks down through the curved parking garages at the base.

On the outside, each ring is fronted by a layer of windows and balconies punched out from the surface and lifted on piloti. Alternating glass skin and concrete balconies give pattern to the façade. On the interior, curving walkways and glass tower elevators connect multiple levels of residence, recreation space, and parking garage, a virtuoso exercise in articulating vertical depth. An elongated, three-story stepped apartment building runs the length of the marina and connects the towers visually. The complex includes tennis courts, swimming pools, cafes, and other amenities dispersed throughout, making it more like an inward-facing city set apart from the surrounding streetscape.

Advertised as “more resort than residence,” DMJM’s project was Marina del Rey’s first high rise, and it changed the culture of the once-sleepy seaside community.

Year Built


Materials Employed

Structural steel, concrete, and glass.

Architectural Style

Late Modern

Emerging in the 1960, as the Mid-century modern craze was winding down, Late Modernism pushed the stylistic ideas of Modernism to extremes. This often involved a mutation, a distortion, and/or an exaggeration of modern design elements; a sculptural breaking of the box. Though still modern in terms of form, features, and materials, late modern work was often more mannered.

Unlike Postmodernism, which was concerned with historical styles and symbolism, Late Modernism remained committed to the new, which sometimes involved going against some of its predecessor’s core values. For example, instead of breaking down the division between inside and out, as glass-walled modernist houses had attempted to do, late modern buildings wrapped in reflective double-sided glass seemed to heighten it, creating hermetically sealed worlds hidden from view.


Conceived as a live-in resort rather than a conventional residential development, the Marina City Club was Marina del Rey’s first high rise construction. It required the development of 20 acres of land and 11 acres of water rights, changing the character of this quiet coastal community.

The complex includes three pairs of 17-story C-shaped towers totaling 700 ocean-view units, visually connected by an elongated three-story stepped apartment building running the length of the marina. An 800-room high- rise hotel and a 200,000 square foot office building are also located on the property, and there is enough parking space for 3000 cars.

The residential towers are an exercise in concentric circles, from the rooftop decks down through the curved parking garages at the base. The outside of

each ring is fronted by alternating glass skin, concrete balconies and vertical bands of sand-colored concrete, creating linear patterns on the façade, while on the inside, long curving walkways and glass elevators towers connect fifteen stories of residence, green spaces, and garages.

The property also features amenities usually associated with vacation resorts, all of them located within walking distance of the residential towers, including six tennis and racquetball courts, three swimming pools, multiple cafés and restaurants, a convenience store, a fitness center, steam rooms, sauna and jacuzzi, a hair salon, a club house, and a private yacht club with 390 boat slips.

The complex was built in three major phases, with the west towers opening in 1971, the center towers opening in early 1975, and the east towers opening later in 1975. Smaller buildings may have been built as late as 1977-78. The residential towers were converted into condominiums in 1986.


Anthony John Hale Lumsden, known as Tony, was a Los Angeles-based architect who, along with his colleague Cesar Pelli, developed new ways of wrapping buildings in smooth glass skins, introducing an architecture style that would eventually become ubiquitous across the United States and beyond.

Born in Bournemouth, England, in 1928, Lumsden was raised in Australia and received an architecture degree from the University of Sydney in 1952. Two years later, he was offered a job in the Michigan office of the famous Finnish architect Eero Saarinen, where he worked closely with Cesar Pelli. After Saarinen’s unexpected death in 1961, both Pelli and Lumsden worked for Kevin Roche, John Dinkeloo and Associates (KRJDA) until 1964, when Pelli accepted a design director position at the architecture and engineering firm DMJM, and convinced Lumsden to move to Los Angeles to work as his assistant.

Founded in 1946 by Phillip Daniel, Arthur Mann, S. Johnson, and Irvan Mendenhall, DMJM (pronounced Dim-Jim) was one of the first combined architecture and engineering firms in the Western United States. Although the company originally specialized in military and educational facilities, it grew quickly. By the time Pelli and Lumsden were hired in the mid-1960s, it had become one of Southern California’s largest full-service design and engineering firms.

In their early years at DMJM, Pelli and Lumsden pioneered the influential glass skin technology that would come to define Late Modernism. By turning the mullions (the vertical elements that separate windows from each other) inward rather than outward, keeping them flush with the rest of a building’s exterior, their system enabled them to “wrap” buildings in mirrored glass, creating smooth reflective curtain walls. The Federal Aviation Administration’s West Coast Headquarters, designed in the mid-1960s and completed in 1973, was the first building to be fully covered in mirrored glass.

When Pelli left DMJM in 1968, Lumsden replaced him as the firm’s Design Director, a position that he would hold until 1993. During his tenure at DMJM, Lumsden oversaw the design of dozens of commercial and residential projects in his signature late modern style. These projects linked Los Angeles architecture to contemporaneous art movements such as Minimalism and “Light and Space,” but they were also shaped by economic forces. Produced for a large corporate firm operating under tight budget constraints, they prioritized economy and efficiency—the reversed mullions saved money on aluminum and used inexpensive standardized components. Lumsden and his team only had control over a limited range of design elements, including a building’s shape, the flatness or depth of its mullions, and the opacity or translucency of its glass skin.

In 1994, Lumsden left DMJM to start his own architecture firm, going on to design multiple large-scale projects in Asia, and the Little Tokyo branch of the Los Angeles Public Library. Over the course of his career, Lumsden also taught architecture and design at many colleges and universities, including USC, UCLA, UC Berkeley, Cal Poly Pomona, and SCI-Arch. He received more than thirty design awards, including the AIA Gold Medal.

Anthony Lumsden died of pancreatic cancer on September 22, 2011, in Los Angeles. He was 83 years old, and was survived by his wife, two sons, a daughter, and three grandchildren.


In the 1970s, Lumsden produced several designs that replaced the simple geometric volumes wrapped in unbroken glass skins that he had pioneered in the 1960s with more complex cylindrical and rolled shapes. He referred to this technique as “extrusion.” The Marina City Club is a perfect example of this sculptural period of Lumsden’s career.

For the MCC’s three residential towers, which are made of steel, concrete and glass (the ultimate modernist materials), he started with cylinders, hollowed them out, and exploded them into clusters of semicircular towers. Each apartment has an open floor plan and a floor-to-ceiling glass wall with a sliding door leading out to a balcony facing the ocean, checking all the boxes of Modernism (natural light, fresh air, seamless indoor-outdoor flow), but the towers’ interlocking volumes and their façades broken up by bands of windows, rows of balconies, and strips of smooth concrete, show that the complex is a more elaborate late expression of the style.



The Marina City Club’s west towers open.

Early 1975

The complex’s center towers open.

Late 1975

The complex’s east towers open.


The apartment complex is converted to condominiums.


Following an investigation by CBS reporter David Goldstein, an inspection of the complex by Los Angeles County found cracks in the exterior walls, signs of water intrusion in the parking garages, and water-damaged rooftop decks.

February 2022

According to an engineering report released by Los Angeles County, the complex was found to be structurally sound but will require between $80 million and $140 million in repairs.

This point of interest is part of the tour: Surfside 70s


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