American Society of Landscape Architects ASLA 2008 Professional Awards
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(Photo: Benny Chan)
(Photo: Benny Chan)
(Photo: Steve Gunther)
(Photo: Steve Gunther)
(Photo: Steve Gunther)
(Photo: Steve Gunther)
(Photo: Steve Gunther)
(Photo: Steve Gunther)


Altamira Ranch, Palos Verdes, California
Marmol Radziner & Associates, Los Angeles, California

"A summer camp for a family. The landscape architect designed a highly articulated plan that relates beautifully to the home and residents. The craftsmanship is beautiful, particularly the concrete work."

— 2008 Professional Awards Jury Comments

PROJECT STATEMENT: At Altamira Ranch, the architectural and landscape designs work together to create a project that, despite its impressive scale, looks and feels as though it emerged from the surrounding environment. Through careful siting and the use of local material, including indigenous stone and native California plants, the design of Altamira Ranch engages the surroundings and creates a natural home for generations to come.

PROJECT NARRATIVE: Altamira Ranch represents the manifestation of the dreams and visions for generations of one California family. Occupying 20-acres along the rugged coastline of the Palos Verdes Peninsula, the undeveloped site held memories of childhood camping trips, family picnics, and dramatic sunsets over the ocean. To maintain this sense of place, the clients wanted to maintain the “untouched” feel of the land as much as possible in the design of their 15,500 square foot family complex by connecting it to the surrounding landscape both physically and visually.

Not wanting to disturb the land more than necessary, the four separate buildings--main house, study, guesthouse, and garage--were cut into the terrain, thus reducing the need for site grading. As a result, the subterranean garage and partially buried main house seem to emerge from the ground as the land slopes toward the ocean. Not only did submerging the buildings reduce the amount of site work required, it also preserved the ocean view for the surrounding neighborhood.

Using site features and convergence lines, the designers created a datum line to establish the location of the architectural and site walls. Carefully located plant massings run along these lines to frame views of Inspiration Point and Catalina Island and to create distinct destinations within the landscape. Based on this datum line as, curving pathways of decomposed granite gravel connect the house with the vegetable garden, olive orchard, camping platform, beach volleyball area, and various lookout points. Before construction, the client and landscape designer walked the pathways, making adjustments along the way to ensure that all had good views and comfortably traversed the terrain.

The selection of building and landscape materials that repeat the colors and textures indigenous to the area reinforce the connection to the site beyond the physical locations of the structures and outdoor areas. Local shale was used to clad the concrete building site walls, while the landscape boulders were harvested from a nearby quarry. The over 30,000 plants were contract-grown from native California seed.

The planting design in particular connects the built environment not only to the surrounding lands, but to the ocean as well. With similar visual rhythms and a subtle blue-green color palette, the drifting masses of native shrubs evoke the ocean waves surrounding the site. Like waves lapping at the shoreline, the plants become shorter and are interrupted by large areas of sand as they approach the house. At the guesthouse, the most inland of the structures, succulents that resemble sea urchins, starfish, and corals are used to evoke the feeling of entering a tidal pool or estuary. The strong collaborative relationship between client, architect, and landscape designer resulted in a design that honors the sense of place and unique characteristics of the surrounding environment.


Managing Principal:
Leo Marmol, FAIA

Design Principal:
Ron Radziner, FAIA

Project Manager:
Nicole Starr

Project Architect:
Brian DeYoung, Brad Williams

Project Team:
Nicole Cannon, Daniel Monti, Brendan O’Grady, Laura Parisi, Sonya Reed, Bobby Rees, Huay Wee, Susanna Woo

Interior Design:
Marmol Radziner

Daniella Wilson, Meredith McDaniel, Olivia Erwin, Jesse Moyer

Landscape Design Team:
Meg Coffee, Jeff Pervorse, Martin Fredrickson, Carolyn Sumida, Joel Boulanger

Stone: Altamira Shale

Sheet Metal: Timet Titanium

Terrazzo:  Hermosa Terrazzo

Windows and Sliding Doors:  Fleetwood Doors and Windows

Rosewood custom master bdrm built-in bed and tv console

Walnut casework throughout the house

Ipe wood master bdrm floors, cherry ceiling



(Photo: Meg Coffee)
(Photo: Meg Coffee)
(Photo: Meg Coffee)
(Photo: Steve Gunther)
(Photo: Steve Gunther)
(Photo: Steve Gunther)
Site Plan
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