What's it like to live in an architectural gem, and where do you even buy one?

By Virginia K. Smith  | December 18, 2014 - 11:59AM

For anyone who's ever fantasized about ditching their apartment and moving into the Frank Lloyd Wright room at the Met, New York Magazine has an envy-inducing feature about what life is actually like in a home designed by a world-famous architect. The first part of the answer is "expensive," as you'd probably guess, but beyond that, the sheer aesthetic value can act as a conversation starter.

"I’ve never lived anywhere where someone automatically knows which building you mean when you tell them where you are," says one renter at the New York by Gehry building at 8 Spruce Street. "It’s entertaining when people try to describe it. They say it looks like a sand castle or crumpled-up metal or rippling waves." 

On the flip side, the owner of the Philip Johnson "glass house" in Connecticut frequently finds birds crashing into her windows, and the resident of a Frank Lloyd Wright home on Staten Island gets regular house calls from tourists and architecture students, and recently had to do an expensive re-pointing of the exterior brick. "I’m not saying I regret it in any way. But this house requires a lot of loving care," he tells the magazine. Depending on who designed the place, you'll also have to tread lightly about updates that would otherwise be run of the mill, like installing curtains or a new air conditioning system.

If none of this sounds daunting (and you've got a whole lot of cash on hand), you're in luck: it just so happens to be an architecture buff's prime time to buy, with residences opening up in both the Puck Building and the Woolworth Building, and a new Zaha Hadid project coming to the High Line. (We'd add that Jean Nouvel, Shigeru Ban and Norman Foster all have local projects in the works.) New York rounds up some pedigreed options currently on the market, and while most are in the multi-million-dollar range, there's also a $339,000 East 33rd Street post-war studio designed by I. M. Pei (and with a rent-stabilized tenant currently in place). You'll likely have to wait a long while before you move in, but when you do, you'll at least have bragging rights. 


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