In Newport Beach, California, the Mariners’ Medical Arts building stands as a prime example of Richard Neutra’s modernist aesthetic. With its low-lying volumes, abundant glazing, and clean geometric forms, the building has been a staple of the city’s architectural landscape since its opening in 1963. Recently, developers Burnham Ward Properties (BWP) and architecture firm Shubin Donaldson embarked on a meticulous restoration project to revive the building’s original design, with a focus on reimagining the outdoor spaces as an extension of the interior.
One of the key highlights of the restoration was the revival of three reflecting pools that had been defunct for nearly 50 years. By analyzing archival images and original construction drawings, the design team uncovered architectural features that had been removed in past renovations. This attention to detail and commitment to honoring the original design intent is what sets this restoration apart.
Recognizing the importance of sustainable practices, the team also rethought the landscaping to include drought-tolerant plantings and tree species. In addition, accessibility improvements and new LED lighting were implemented, further enhancing the functionality and efficiency of the building.
The complex, composed of three interconnected structures, boasts elongated rooflines that shelter the pathways and restored garden beds. The combination of white stucco, stone, wood, and brick creates a park-like environment that seamlessly blends with the paved pathways and gravel garden beds. Splashes of red, found in the post-and-beam constructions and used to coat ceilings and doorways, provide a striking contrast against the earthy tones of the building materials.
Privacy and tranquility permeate the space, with metal louvers covering large expanses and exterior stairways adding a touch of elegance to the rectangular volumes. Lush vegetation and the revitalized water elements pay homage to Japanese garden designs, evoking a sense of serenity and harmony with nature.
The restoration of the water elements was a pivotal aspect of the project, returning Neutra’s original design intent and reaffirming the building’s connection to the natural surroundings. The reflecting pools, though covered and abandoned for years, were uncovered and refilled, once again bringing tranquility to the site.
Dr. Frank Curry, a longtime tenant in the building, expressed his gratitude for the restoration efforts. Running his dental practice from the Mariners’ Medical Arts building for 54 years, he witnessed ownership changes and alterations to the architecture and landscape. He commended Burnham Ward Properties for their commitment to reviving the building’s original glory, stating, “I am fortunate and proud to continue my general practice in this extraordinary building.”
The restoration of the Mariners’ Medical Arts building serves as a testament to the enduring appeal and timeless design of Neutra’s work. By marrying health and design and seamlessly integrating outdoor spaces, this iconic modernist gem stands as a exemplar of the possibilities that lie at the intersection of architecture and nature.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Who was the architect of the Mariners’ Medical Arts building?
The Mariners’ Medical Arts building was designed by Richard Neutra, a prominent modernist architect known for his sleek and minimalist designs.
2. What were some key features restored during the renovation?
Important features that were restored include the three reflecting pools, architectural elements removed in previous renovations, and the connection between the interior and the outdoor spaces.
3. How did the design team enhance sustainability in the restoration?
To promote sustainability, the landscaping was reimagined with drought-tolerant plantings and tree species. Additionally, accessibility improvements and LED lighting were implemented to increase energy efficiency.
4. What role did the restored water elements play in the revitalization?
The revitalization project focused on bringing back the water elements that were originally part of Neutra’s design. By restoring the reflecting pools and their tranquility, the building’s connection to nature was reestablished.
5. What was the reaction of Dr. Frank Curry, a longtime tenant in the building, to the restoration?
Dr. Frank Curry expressed his gratitude for the restoration efforts, stating that he was fortunate and proud to continue his dental practice in such an extraordinary building. He commended Burnham Ward Properties for their commitment to restoring the original glory of the Mariners’ Medical Arts building.