Cooper Joseph Studio was founded in January when Chris Cooper joined Wendy Evans Joseph as a partner. Joseph had been a sole practitioner since 1993 when she left Pei, Cobb, Freed where she was a senior associate. In private practice she became well known both for her civic engagement as president of the New York chapter of the AIA in 1999 and 2000 and for her design of exhibition installations, including Shaping the Future on Saarinen at the Museum of the City of New York, as well as for the renovation of Frank LLoyd Wright’s Price Tower in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. Before creating Cooper Joseph, Chris Cooper was an associate at Skidmore, Owings and Merrill for ten years where he ran a 40 person design studio. At SOM he developed a successful strategy for integrating construction technology, building systems, and structural engineering early in the design process and has carried this formulation into his current practice with Cooper Joseph. The experience Cooper gained at SOM working on large scale projects from residential towers to institutional commercial work, combined with Wendy Joseph’s unique client-tailored solutions has produced an expertise and a body of work that combines elegance with practical efficiency.
In their newly completed Mill Pond Park Outdoor Classroom in the Bronx, done in collaboration with landscape architect Thomas Balsley, the firm used this same direct and unassuming working method to create a usable yet wonderfully sculptural amenity for this community abutting Yankee stadium. Hard up against the Major Deegan, the design features a classroom, with perforated aluminum panels hung on a steel frame, that faces away from the Deegan and towards the Harlem River. Like their best work, it is both appropriate in design and execution and an impressive achievement for this small, cutting-edge firm.
Southern Utah Museum of Art
Cedar City, Utah
A museum managed and run by students on an existing state university campus, the facility promotes a journey from campus upward and outward to the surrounding mountains. This journey created by a “sheared” plan of sloping ramps is meant to mimic moving through a canyon. Pedestrian ramps overlook a study area, storage and teaching spaces as well as galleries that feature the work of local artist Jimmie Jones. The ramp circulates up and through the building to reach a viewing area overlooking the surrounding mountains.
This Sonoma project built took the wooden frame of a nondescript two-story spec residence (shown above) and cut out part of the floor to create an open double-height living area focused across the bucolic Sonoma vineyard landscape. With this new interior plan, the architects created an external frame of steel and wooden slats to cover up the original frame house (and the existing roof) turning an ugly ducking into a beautiful architectural swan.
This small 859 square foot guesthouse is constructed of concrete planes facing the road and large glass walls overlooking surrounding olive groves and a dry creek. A cascading three-level stairway connecting domestic, public, and kitchen work areas replicates the sloping site. The palate is tactile, made of zinc, wood, and grey stained oak. Small open glass corners and cantilevered windows heighten this closed yet open and dynamic design.
Webb Chapel Park Pavilion
This small pavilion creates a shaded—hopefully cooler—amenity for a Dallas public park. It takes an existing Dallas park typology, the open framed outdoor eating area, and creates a modest but smartly designed architectural space using the traditional “palapa” or natural cooling tower. Cast-in-place concrete benches and intense yellow interiors help maintain a cool feel in the torrid Texas summer.
National Butterfly Center
The Butterfly Education Center had a modest budget but a program that reads like an idealized academic brief. Defined by human scale elements, rustic and formal gardens, and water retention areas, it is meant to promote butterfly watching and respect for the environment. The firm’s solution was a clever one that emphasizes local nature through both association and contrast. Finally it zones the surrounding butterfly watching landscape into discrete areas of enclosure and open space with both blending into distant wild habitats.