July 13, 2015

There are moments, standing in either of the 30,000-square-feet outdoor courtyards at the Mercedes House rental building between 53rd and 54th St. and 11th Ave., looking up at the hulking steel and glass structure, that you are not in this city, this country or possibly this world.

Standing outside in the northern courtyard, trees and manicured gardens surrounded you. There are curvy orange outdoor chaises, bocce ball courts and an amphitheater on one side. On the other is an elevated outdoor pool perched on a metal and wood-wrapped pedestal adjacent to a giant Japanese weathervane sculpture by Susumu Shingu.

The ziggurat-shaped building rises high around you. Zen-style sunscreens block the sun to give the structure the feel of a giant civic building in a futuristic science-fiction world where only bright skies exist. Several renters have terraces that go up and down the Z-shaped building. It’s like nothing this city has ever seen before.

That’s great architecture. It was developed by Two Trees Management Company, the Walentas family-owned group who created the neighborhood of DUMBO, and designed by Enrique Norten’s Ten Arquitectos. The building is a glimpse into more of what New York needs. It’s mammoth, its use of indoor and outdoor space allowing triple the air and light of other New York dwellings.