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Marina del Rey Apartment Complex Design
This six-story mixed-use development offers 244 residential units and 9,000 sq. ft. of commercial space.

Landscape Architecture by Orange Street Studio, Los Angeles
Editor Steve Kelly



The "podium" level at the 'Stella' luxury apartment complex on Maxella Avenue in Marina del Rey, Calif., features a circular "beach," shaded group cabanas, outdoor kitchens, water fountains, a spa and a recreational pool with individual shaded nooks and lounges. The majority of the hardscape for the podium level is colored concrete ('Outback'), with some scored concrete in 'Cobblestone', 'Adobe' and light and dark grey colors. Black beach pebbles (1"-1.5") were laid in the dark gray concrete.

This six-story mixed-use development on Maxella Avenue in Marina del Rey, Calif., offers 244 residential units and 9,000 sq. ft. of commercial space. The project achieved LEED Silver rating, and received the Westside Urban Forum Honor Award for multi-unit housing (2014).

Tall Phoenix dactylifera date palms line both sides of the entrance driveway to the 'Stella'. The apartment complex was designed to be something of an urban residential oasis tucked within this compact, unincorporated area of boat marinas in southwest Los Angeles.




The southern and western edge of the apartment complex is sandwiched between the Marina Expressway and busy Lincoln Boulevard. There is a meadow (top right) with a DG path on the south edge of the property, adjacent to the Marina Expressway. There's also a landscape strip (middle right) on the western edge along Lincoln Boulevard. These spaces are the only nature to buffer the hubbub of those two busy roadways. The meadow was hydroseeded with a native meadow mix, and four tree species planted: Calif. pepper, London plane, Australian willow and western redbud.

Santa Monica and Marina del Rey are the two most expensive rental markets in Los Angeles, according to Axiometrics, an apartment data services. The average monthly rents are $3,316. The Brentwood, Westwood and Beverly Hills aren't far behind at $3,013, followed by Palms/Mar Vista area ($2,540) and downtown ($2,344). Those familiar with Los Angels may be surprised that Brentwood, Westwood and Beverly Hills aren't at the top of the rental rung. Location, as always, trumps other considerations in real estate; proximity to the beach costs you extra.

Axiometrics notes that there are four apartment properties in the downtown with average rents above $3,500. The downtown L.A. residential vacancy rate, however, is 12%, the highest level in nearly two decades. The vacancy rate is blamed on the overbuilding of luxury apartments downtown. The downtown also has a homeless problem. You may be paying $3,500 a month, but there's a fellow nearby on the sidewalk with a makeshift cardboard house who is not paying a penny. The vacancy rate elsewhere in L.A. is 4%, meaning you've got to scramble to find something appealing.


Tall Phoenix dactylifera date palms line both sides of the entrance driveway, lending an oasis vibe to the apartment complex.

When you're paying ocean proximity rent rates you expect some resort-like amenities and a variety of spaces. On the "podium" level of the Maxella Avenue units is a family-friendly circular "beach" area with lounge chairs. Residents can stretch out by the large pool, or dine in the grilling areas outfitted with kitchens and outdoor heaters. Granted, cold weather is an anomaly here, but there are those evenings when it's a "bit nippy." At this writing, Oct. 24, the temperature in L.A. is 104°, an all-time high for this day in L.A.--well, at least since 1877 when the city began keeping weather logs. Marina del Ray wasn't much cooler. It posted 100°.


At street level, raised concrete planters serve as water runoff infiltration planters. Planted medians and 'Palisade' benches of jarrah (Eucalyptus marginata) make it a pedestrian-friendly public space.

The complex also affords a variety of spaces for quiet sitting or communal gatherings. Lush plantings in the courtyards offer residents a calming respite from the urban environment. At street level, raised planters serve as water runoff infiltration planters and planted medians create a pleasant pedestrian-friendly public space. In addition, there's a meadowlands southwest adjacent to the building complex, a park-like refuge for the residents and their canines.


Individual fireplaces are among the amenities of the communal outdoor lounge areas.

About Orange Street Studio
Michael Schneider, ASLA, founded Orange Street Studio ( in 1998. Michael has an MLA in urban design from the Harvard Graduate School of Design, and 25 years of experience in landscape architecture, urban design and construction management. James Dinh, MLA, is the associate designer; Cindy Chen and Grace Sullano are designers, and Christina Sitkevich is the office associate. The firm delivers contemporary landscape architecture design and master planning, maintaining a diverse studio environment that encourages collaboration within the office and with clients, architects and other consultants.

Stella Project Team
Owner: Merlone Geier Partners
Developer: GLJ West Development Company (now Trammel Crowe Residential)
Tony Ditteaux, Grath Erdossy
Architect: DesignArc Los Angeles, Dion McCarthy, Sean Finn, Andy Alper
Landscape Architect: Orange Street Studio: Michael Schneider, Principal Designer, Jennifer Lee, Project Manager, James Dinh, Design Associate
Irrigation: Sweeny & Associates
Structural Engineer: Taylor & Syfan
Civil Engineer: PSOMAS; David Martin
General Contractor: GLJ Builders West, L.P.
Interior Designer: Arroyo Interior Design & Ariel Fox Design


Plant Pallet

As seen in LASN magazine, November 2017.

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June 19, 2019, 11:14 pm PDT

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