Wings of Imagination

By Nancy D. Lackey Shaffer


ow many of us would see an old airplane in a scrap yard and think, “That would make a great house?”

It’s a leap of both imagination and engineering, to be sure. But architect David Hertz of the S.E.A. Studio of Environmental Architecture is very comfortable thinking outside of the “little boxes” of tract housing. His specialty is environmentally responsible buildings, which he designs with an eye towards innovation and creativity. The Wing House encompasses all of those things, to magnificent effect, making the most industrial design elements – wings, fuselage, tail fins, landing lights and other pieces of a Boeing 747 — seem perfectly at home in a stylish hillside residence. The plane’s look isn’t lost, but incorporated into the design, resulting in a house with a contemporary-cool, futuristic vibe that is still elegant and even a little soft. 

Being willing to take a plunge into the “what ifs” can lead to amazing things.

On a charming channelside lot near Oxnard’s Seabridge neighborhood, Adrienne and Art Stone built a two-story house that encompassed everything they loved: eclectic art, space for entertaining friends and family, floor-to-ceiling windows with unparalleled views of the water, even a small movie theater where they could enjoy their beloved classic movies. The one thing this narrow parcel of prime real estate lacked was outdoor space. But what if they purchased the neighboring lot, and devoted it purely to lush botanicals? The Stones created a personal palace on the sea, next door to their own Garden of Eden — now that’s aspirational living!

For Brooke and Steve Giannetti, the dream was a piece of the Old World here at home. So they transformed a five-acre property in Ojai into a European country-style estate, complete with antique furnishings, French terra-cotta roof tyles, vintage barn beams and more. Add some chickens, donkeys, and an impressive garden, and you get a landscape both charming in its simplicity and luxurious in its expanse and attention to detail. Marie Antoinette at her Petite Trianon comes to mind.

For some residents of Ojai and Ventura, dreams were shattered rather than realized when the Thomas Fire destroyed their homes. As these property owners face the arduous prospect of rebuilding, several architects share their thoughts on the best way to move forward. What if, they ask in an illuminating roundtable discussion, old tract-style homes could instead feature passive heating and cooling, flexible layouts, even roof gardens? These building and design professionals suggest that these attractive, energy-efficient and cost-effective approaches are not so far-fetched. 

The key here is vision: an ability to see something different than what has come before, to devise new ways to do something ordinary, to figure out a way to turn fantasy into reality. We can’t all have a garden paradise or a Wing House . . . but we can all dream, and let our imaginations take flight. Who knows where we’ll land once we do. 

The 747 Wing House will be featured in the “Magical Malibu Tour” offered through the Venice Design Series on Sunday, April 29. For more information, call 310.526.3857 or visit


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