From the street, the red-brick building in New York’s Gramercy Park that has served as architect David Ling’s home and work space for the past two decades looks fairly unremarkable. On the other side of its rather ordinary façade, however, things quickly take a turn for the surreal.
Erected in the mid-1800s, the building has cycled through a number of identities over its lifetime. According to the historical blog Daytonian in Manhattan, it’s been a stable for horses, a grocery store, a boarding house, an auto repair shop, and a dental laboratory/assembly factory. And now, the three-story structure awaits its next incarnation, as Ling has lofted it onto the market with an asking price just a smidgen below $8 million.
The architect, who did stints in the firms of Richard Meier and I.M. Pei before launching his own practice in the ’90s, purchased the Gramercy Park building in 2000 for $740,000, public records show. After gutting the 6,500-square-foot structure’s interior, Ling transformed it into a live-work space, that, as he told Dwell magazine in 2008, served as something of a laboratory where he could experiment with design ideas outside of his normal practice. The unconventional results garnered much publicity — in addition to Dwell, Ling’s loft has been featured in the New York Times, Remodelista, Architizer, and in Netflix’s 2018 series “Amazing Interiors.”
The most attention-grabbing of Ling’s design experiments involve water. In his “Amazing Interiors” segment, the architect says, “I love flowing open spaces — no doors, no walls.” So, rather than using the aforementioned solid objects to create separation between the building’s various spaces, Ling constructed an interior moat with stepping stone pathway on its ground floor, a bridge on the middle level, and a waterfall that cascades from the mezzanine loft bedroom.
Other singular architectural elements include a thick cone of curving steel, an homage to Richard Serra, that wraps around to create a shower wall at its widest end, in the mezzanine bedroom, then descends to a sculptural point one floor below, next to a masonry wall painted Yves Klein blue.
Complementing the steel cone, the mezzanine bathroom also contains a conical steel sink and a brushed-steel commode, which Ling describes in “Amazing Interiors” as “a really beautiful toilet, regardless of its history of being a prison toilet.” (The building’s three other bathrooms appear to be fully enclosed and outfitted with standard porcelain fixtures.)
Per online marketing materials, the building’s second and third floors are accessible though a dedicated street entrance, each with a working fireplace, roof-top deck, kitchen and bath, facilitating their being leased out as individual live/work units. Oh, and for anyone wondering about the safety of the mezzanine bedroom’s cantilevered bed, in the Netflix series, Ling notes that only a pillow, a lamp and a cat have fallen from its ledge, and happily, all three survived.