When it comes to luxury real estate, admit it, you like to watch
Three real estate projects that raise the question: Why build when you can fiddle?
The Silo Home
Saranac, New York
History and fantasy collide in this decommissioned U.S. Air Force missile silo. The subterranean nuclear facility, located in a remote area of New York’s Adirondack State Park, was installed around 1960 and was more recently transformed into the underground portion of an otherwise unassuming lodge-style home. At the end of a 20-foot staircase and through two 2,000-pound steel blast doors, you’ll find the 2,300-square-foot former Launch Control Center, which was converted into a living space by the home’s owner, Bruce Francisco. The second level, 40 feet below ground, includes two master bedroom suites with glass window blocks, behind which reflective boxes containing daylight-spectrum bulbs mimic natural light. The 12,000-square-foot, 185-foot-deep silo tube itself, once occupied by an Atlas-F missile, has yet to be repurposed, but using it as a wine cellar seems like a good idea.
The 747 Wing House
A few years ago, architect David Hertz stood atop the Malibu mountains and, looking out over the Pacific Ocean, started thinking about airplanes. He’d been commissioned to build a house on this spot, with a brief that specified a curvilinear form. So Hertz and his client set out on a road trip to an aircraft boneyard in the Mojave Desert. They returned $30,000 lighter, having secured ownership of a decommissioned Boeing 747 (original market value: $200 million).
Hertz proceeded to dismantle the plane, integrating its various parts into the new home’s design. The wings and tail stabilizers became roofing material; the fuselage functions as an interior feature wall; the outdoor fire pit, crafted from an engine cowling, serves as a communal space. Over time, the once-coveted first class cabin deck will be used for the roof of the guesthouse; the cockpit windows will form a skylight in the meditation pavilion.
It’s been a long haul and taken 17 government agency approvals, but in 2011 Francie Rehwald was finally able to call the 747 Wing House her home.
Pent Tank House
Manhattan, New York
Rooftop water tanks are so commonplace in New York, people hardly ever notice them. But as architects Brian Messana and Toby O’Rorke set about renovating a loft atop a prewar building in Greenwich Village a while back, a sprinkler tank caught their eye. The project called for a reading and relaxation space, and the quaint, circular structure seemed as if it might be just the thing.
Today, the 100-square-foot rotunda features a 12-foot-tall window overlooking the roof garden and Lower Manhattan; removable oak floor panels with access to storage space; and a circular skylight that lets the sun stream in. In the evening, the ceiling looks ethereal; with the walls pulled back four inches from its circumference, fluorescent lighting fills the gap to give the ceiling a floating effect. —Marina Chetner