What makes home design effective beyond basic structural needs? Maybe it is the involvement of the client in creating a dwelling space that reflects his or her dreams, styles, hobbies, culture(s). When budget is not an issue, we can run across some really spectacular examples of what someone’s home can be. The aviation-inspired design present in John Travolta’s Ocala home tells a story of a place made for the effective pursuit of a passion: the flying of jet planes. The design does not shy away from this topic, placing runways for planes right in front of the house, such that they appear in the periphery of vision for anyone visiting the property, in almost any spot. This bespoke house/airport was designed by architect Dana Smith, and it is a multifaceted edifice to experience. Let’s analyze 10 creative choices that the architect took to bring this home to life. 

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House_ Chris Livingston_©Getty Images.

Facade

While the sunshine state is home to a large quantity of private airports, most of these are apart from owners’ homes, with planes stored in not particularly handsome hangars. John Travolta’s home is certainly approaching the airport theme from a different vector, and it is spectacular the way in which the planes are incorporated into the design. The front is characterized by a serious, semi-industrial look, closely resembling an airport. To further affirm the aviation-inspired design, in the center of the house and visible from the front, a full glass window tower rises, imitating a control tower. The entryway is garlanded by two large, solid columns, preceded by the typical Floridian palm trees. And to add to the seriousness of the theme, several flag posts are present. The overall effect is of an upscaled hub of transport.

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Front of John Travolta’s Ocala Home Tim Boyles_©Getty Images.

Windows 

The windows in the façade of Ocala are a maritime blue that offers tonal contrast to the general white color of the walls. The fenestration in between is also representative of the aviation-inspired design; it is large and flat, just like in airports. This theme continues in the glass control tower all around, presenting an attractive view from above, not just at the planes on the property and overhead, but of the rest of the estate, which includes a golf course and a pool. The back of the house carries on with the same open-viewed style, presenting visitors with plenty of opportunities to admire the jets parked right outside.

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John Travolta’s Ocala Home_©NC Sizemore

Interior

The large windows throughout the house flood the interior with that famously warm Floridian light, creating a sense of bright openness even from the interior. Lushly furnished, the inside of the house still embraces the aviation-inspired design, as it is a clear homage to the glamorous Pan Am style of the 60’s. This bygone era in aviation tells the story of America’s fashion in flight, and its revival in the interior of the Ocala home is not haphazardly done: everything from the floor designs to the ceilings embodies its spirit. A series of model airplanes completes the scene, bringing the friendly skies inside, even if just in miniature.>>

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John Travolta’s Ocala Home Interior_The Tech Lab_©YouTube.

Style 

This home, as must be apparent by now, is very airport-style inspired. But it does not simply copy said style. Its embrace is gracefully done, albeit with hints of eccentricity, in which the acclaimed actor takes great pride. The artwork featured within is the cherry on top of this aviation-inspired design, with a mural covering several full walls depicting planes flying across the world, as well as families from the 50’s waiting impatiently at the airport for their chance to fly. This mural was lifted from a 1937 “Fortune” magazine ad, faithfully replicated in the house by artist Sandra Hilliard. The passion that Travolta has for flying is ever-present.

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John Travolta’s Ocala Home Interior_The Tech Lab_©YouTube.

Pool Area

The pool area is imbued with 50’s-style elegance, accentuating the line drawn from the entrance to the back. This side of the house transitions from squared surfaces into a perfect semicircle, opening up to the pool. A selection of palm trees has been conveniently placed to provide shade and mood to the relaxation area. But, of course, the pool is the main event. Even here the aviation-inspired design is present, look both left and right from the azure waters and you can find the jets parked right nearby, as transitional forms connecting lawns and interiors. The idea was to not differentiate between the home area and the airport area, and effectively, the planes can be accessed from under canopies, designed to shelter from the elements when boarding.

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John Travolta’s Ocala Home Pool_The Tech Lab_©YouTube.

Runways 

The house extends in two directions. Front-to-back, ending in the pool area, and right-to-left, both extensions terminating at the jets’ parking spaces, joined at the back of the house by their runways. It is not completely symmetric; instead the design is unified by the planes themselves in the corners. The jets can be accessed from the interior of the house, sheltering the owner, pilots and guests from rain, a common meteorological occurrence in Florida. The house expands for around 7,000 square feet, sitting on 9.5 acres of prime real estate, of which the runway occupies a cozy 7,500 ft, running right into the home’s very back door.

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John Travolta’s Ocala Home Aerial_©Isaac Adler.

Value 

The Floridian property was purchased at $3.5 million dollars in 2001. The house is located within a fly-in community spanning around 550 acres in the town of Anthony, north of Ocala. John Travolta’s intention to live in an aviation-inspired design was embraced in this area, famously home to more plane and flight aficionados. The home features a 16-car garage, 5 bedrooms with 7 bathrooms, a pool completed by a bar and indoor cabana, and a private control center. The famed star of such classics as Grease, Saturday Night Fever, and Battlefield Earth owns others homes too, some of them also located in Florida, but only Ocala is so eccentrically and spectacularly aeronautical in design and function.  

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Marion’s Jumbolair Aviation Estates_©Ocala StarBanner.

Location 

John Travolta’s airport/home is located in the town of Anthony, near Ocala. Florida seems like an ideal location for such a place; usually (but now always) sunny, near to many popular tropical vacation destinations, and most importantly to a privately licensed pilot, it is a famously flat state. Private airports can be found all over the Sunshine State, adding to the charm and value of its many diverse communities. But John Travolta’s home in Ocala stands out from the rest, being carefully designed as both a private airport and a luxurious home. It is the stuff of legends when it comes to architecturally embodying a man’s passion for flying as translated into a way of life. With this property you get the full package: the aviation-inspired design, the aviation in itself, and the star power of one of Hollywood’s most iconic actors. 

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John Travolta’s Ocala Home_©Global Film Locations.

Construction Time

The design stage of this complex house (and air field) took over 6 years. Yet the house itself was completed in two. The entire home is an invitation to enjoy the pleasures of flying and the life of a pilot, even if this pilot’s primary career has been on the silver screen. The house comes across as stunningly well designed, with no excesses in its architecture despite being a luxury home. The aviation-inspired design comes across as wholesome and functional; it is an invitation to others from the private aviation community to invest not only in their passion for flying, but in how to bring this passion into their everyday lives.

In Conclusion: A Family Home 

The Pulp Fiction star commissioned this home together with his late wife Kelly Preston. It was designed to be a family home, nestled deep within the aviation community of and around Ocala, Florida. This area is known as the Jumbolair Aviation Estates neighborhood, and it is a short ten minute flight from a major city: Orlando. The aviation-inspired design of the actor’s house might have come directly from his personal passion for flying, but it was at its core a family dwelling, meant to be lived in and enjoyed. Tragically, the Travolta family has been struck by a number of painful losses in recent years. Aside from his wife Kelly, firstborn son Jett also passed in 2009 before his time. Yet despite these losses, the actor still values family above all else, and has often said his best co-pilots in life are his surviving children Ella and Benjamin.

John Travolta with his daughter Ella and Conner Rayburn_©The Repository.

Images:

  1. John Travolta’s Ocala Home, Chris Livingston/Getty Images. [online] Available at: https://www.architecturendesign.net/john-travoltas-house-is-a-functional-airport-with-2-runways-for-his-private-planes/
  2. Front of John Travolta’s Ocala Home, by Tim Boyles, Getty Images. [online] Available at: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/122512052339784885/
  3. John Travolta’s Ocala Home, by NC Sizemore. [online] Available at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/nearous/3687746191
  4. John Travolta’s Ocala Home Interior. By The Tech Lab, YouTube. [online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wTScjfUaZDY
  5. John Travolta’s Ocala Home Interior. By The Tech Lab, YouTube. [online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wTScjfUaZDY
  6. John Travolta’s Ocala Home Pool. By The Tech Lab, YouTube. [online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wTScjfUaZDY
  7. John Travolta’s Ocala Home Aerial, by Isaac Adler. [online] Available at: https://i.imgur.com/K8W925v.jpg
  8.  Marion’s Jumbolair Aviation Estates by Ocala StarBanner. [online] Available at:https://www.ocala.com/restricted/?return=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.ocala.com%2Fstory%2Fnews%2F2021%2F03%2F04%2Fjumbolair-aviation-estates-development-sells-9-million%2F6905792002%2F
  9. John Travolta’s Ocala Home, by Global Film Locations. [online] Available at: https://globalfilmlocations.net/2017/01/25/john-travoltas-house-location/
  10. John Travolta with his daughter Ella and Conner Rayburn, The Repository. [online] Available at: https://www.cantonrep.com/story/entertainment/local/2009/11/25/movie-review-old-dogs/42156266007/
Author

G. C. Reyes is a classically trained artist and architecture student from Miami, Florida currently working in New Jersey. She enjoys 3D printing and design and thinking about the architecture of the future. Some of her favorite artists include Louis Kahn, Steven Holl, Marina Abramovich, and Leonard Cohen.

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