'This is the kind of building that should not be built here'

Wilfred J.O. Armster (Photo by Christopher Capozziello, The New York Times)

The building looks very much like a spaceship, which is what locals here have been calling it since its arrival in the late 1980s — a term that was at first derogatory and is now used with increasing affection. (It was even memorialized as such in early 2002 in Zippy the Pinhead, a comic strip.)

But the structure created by the architect Wilfred J. O. Armster is no alien craft. Nor is it an office building or a rich man’s folly, as many of the tourists who still flood the driveway to gawk and take pictures believe.

It is a condo, made up of 13 lofty, light-filled apartments (mostly one-bedrooms) that slice the building crosswise, from west to east.

On balance, it is inhabited by the sort of people who view Mr. Armster, 70, as an iconoclastic artist, and his building, their home, as a piece of sculpture.

“Neither of us grew up in an architected space,” said Sue Preneta, a painter and dance teacher who has lived here with her husband, Peter Sispoidis, chief technology officer of a company that puts advertisements in video games, since 2001. “We just grew up in houses. But you can feel the intention here.”