Posts tagged with "Cooper Union":

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The Cooper Union hosts the first ever American exhibition of the Spanish Biennial of Architecture

The Spanish Biennial of Architecture and Urbanism (BEAU) has travelled to the U.S. for the first time in its history. Now in its thirteenth edition, the BEAU, this year titled Alternativas/Alternatives, is currently on show at the Cooper Union in New York after being exhibited in the Alhambra, in southern Spain.  Alternativas/Alternatives features 22 jury-selected projects–from January 1, 2013 through December 31, 2015–all chosen from contemporary Spanish practices and falling under themes of heritage, planning, and innovation. In the wake of the Spanish Pavilion winning the Golden Lion at this year's Venice Biennale (the biennale's highest honor), 70 percent of the work showcased in Italy is now exhibited at the XIII BEAU. Projects range in scale from low-key dwellings to cliff-side-spanning landscape interventions. Together, the works aim to demonstrate the innovative techniques architects have employed when dealing with the aspects of heritage and planning while constrained by budget and materials by Spain's geography and economy. “We were concerned about the difficult past for architecture in terms of the economic, social, and political situation in the country," said Begoña Díaz-Urgorri, BEAU co-director, speaking to The Architect's Newspaper (AN).  "We wanted to connect the audience to Spanish architecture and help them understand how it is developing," continued Díaz-Urgorri. “The exhibition is called 'Alternatives' to reflect what other alternatives that were found during this two-year period, not always through forms but through the processes that architects used. We were not so much concerned about the aspect of construction, rather, the development of the architect over these two years.” To achieve this "connection," the exhibition at Cooper Union offers a unique way of letting the audience engage with the projects on display. 3-D printed models of the 22 jury-selected works are laid out across a group of tables alongside two television screens and barcode scanners. Here, visitors are encouraged to pick up the off-white maquettes and find the barcodes underneath. In a shopping mall-like experience, when scanned, the barcode reader bleeps and up pops information, drawings, and photography of the building onto the corresponding wall-mounted monitor. Projects are color coded according to the three themes of the Biennial; slides on the screens are kept simple, readable, and generally accessible to most audiences. Further information on the projects is also available within the Biennial's main attraction: A sloping semi-circle platform surrounded by three large projection screens that show more photography of the projects. Also located on the platform, numerous eye-level television screens display critics, architects, and members of the public talking about the building/intervention shown on the nearby projection. Nader Tehrani, dean of the Cooper Union's Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture, also spoke to AN. He described the work on display, saying "some of the projects are planned with a resilient approach to building typologies, understanding that those buildings may have to take on varied programs, functions, and activities in the future." The Iranian-American designer who also founded NADAAA in 2011 also commented on the three themes prevalent within the exhibition. “Any intervention into heritage involves a broader dialogue with history, but often from different mentalities." Tehrani also outlined the "three different modalities" taken on in the approaches demonstrated at the Biennal:
  • Through preservation, to not only restore buildings to their original stature, but to also revive certain crafts and construction techniques that would otherwise become obsolete
  • Through renovation, upgrading buildings to take on the responsibilities of  new codes, life safety systems and other such requirements; while some of them do so in a stealth way, others expose and contrast the new systems in relation to the original spaces, but in each case, there is a deep sense of acknowledgment about the role of the surgical operation.
  • Through intervention, building up a richer dialogue between the original space and the new: drawing out potentials, functions and responsibilities of contemporary priorities.
Alternativas/Alternatives is free and open to the public and runs through December 3 this year.
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Cooper Union Board, Committee to Save Cooper Union, and NY Attorney General reach agreement on how to manage school

The Committee to Save Cooper Union (CSCU), the Board of Trustees of the Cooper Union, and New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman signed a consent decree on September 2nd to manage the school's governance and finances. The consent decree lets the Board avoid admitting wrongdoing, while outlining changes the school's leadership must make to return Cooper Union to a sustainable, no-tuition model. This move is a critical step towards the resolution of a 2014 lawsuit brought by the New York Attorney General's office and CSCU against the board alleged that, among other transgressions, the mismanagement of the school's $375 million endowment violated  Cooper Union's charter. The consent decree establishes a framework in which all stakeholders can enact plans for better governance, responsible fiscal management, and chart a plan for the school to return to its merit-based, tuition-free model. The plan is still awaiting approval by the court, but the full list of stipulations is here. In the school's charter, founder Peter Cooper mandated that the Cooper Union be free and open to all. The entering class of 2014 was required to pay tuition, the first class to do so since the early 1900s. The school's financial troubles are exemplified in the construction and financing of 41 Cooper Square. Designed by Thom Mayne of Morphosis, the building was completed in 2009 at a cost of $166 million. The Cooper Union went into debt to capitalize the project, borrowing $175 million against the land it owns underneath the Chrysler Building. The school lost an additional $35 million after the collapse of Lehman Bros. in 2008, leaving the school in near financial ruin. Students, alumni, faculty, and staff hope that the agreement reached last week will put Cooper Union on a path back to financial solvency.
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Breaking> Nader Tehrani named dean of Cooper Union School of Architecture

New York City's Cooper Union finally found a new leader. Nader Tehrani has been appointed dean of the Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture. He joins the school this month, taking over where Anthony Vidler left off. Tehrani, formerly of Office dA, is now principal of NADAAA. Tehrani is also a professor of architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and served as head of MIT’s Department of Architecture from 2010 to 2014. For over 25 years, Tehrani has developed research around material culture as the basis for speculation—exploring material properties, negotiating materials and their geometric predispositions and challenging the means and methods of building processes. “Nader Tehrani is in tune with the traditions of the Irwin S. Chanin School in terms of our emphasis on exploration and the processes that are at the core of the creation and production of architectural form,” said School of Architecture Professor Diana Agrest, who chaired the dean search committee. “He brings fresh perspectives on architectural discourse that will open new avenues in our teaching and will help create new energy in the school.” At Office dA, Tehrani has been recognized with the Cooper Hewitt National Design Award in Architecture (2007). More recently, Tehrani completed three schools of architecture, including the Hinman Research Building at Georgia Tech and the Faculty of Architecture, Building, & Planning at the University of Melbourne. He is currently working on the completion of the new John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, & Design facility at the University of Toronto. Tehrani received a B.F.A. and a B.Arch from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1985 and 1986, respectively. He continued his studies at the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London, where he attended the post-graduate program in history and theory. Upon his return to the United States, Tehrani received the Masters of Architecture and Urban Design from the Harvard University Graduate School of Design in 1991.
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HUD Secretary Julian Castro to headline IDEAS CITY 2015 in New York City

Julian Castro, the United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, has been announced as the keynote speaker for the third annual IDEAS CITY festival in New York.  IDEAS CITY is a biennial street fair that “explores the future of cities with culture as a driving force.” It will launch its third annual rendition on May 28th–30th on the Bowery. Castro will address this year’s theme of “The Invisible City,” highlighting the parts of the city that go unseen, or the forces that are driving change that are not always easy to map. Castro was appointed Secretary of HUD in July, after gaining notoriety as not only an up-and-coming Democratic mayor of San Antonio, who has been mentioned as a possible Vice Presidential candidate in the 2016 race, but also as a strong advocate and innovator in urban policy with a design slant. From the IDEAS CITY website:

As three-term mayor of San Antonio, Julián Castro was known for innovative governance. His “Decade of Downtown” program campaigned for new investments in San Antonio’s city center and older communities and brought in $350 million of private sector money, generating more than 2,400 housing units. In 2010, Castro was enrolled in the World Economic Forum’s list of Young Global Leaders and named by Time magazine as one of its “40 under 40” list of notable leaders in American politics. At the 2012 Democratic National Convention, he became the first Latino to deliver a keynote. Castro took office as the sixteenth Secretary of the US Department of Housing and Urban Development on July 28, 2014.

This year’s festival promises to be an energetic follow-up to the previous years under the direction of Joseph Grima, who has been involved in no less than three Biennials in the last year, including Chicago’s Architecture Biennial and Biennale Interieur in Belgium. IDEAS CITY is also a partnership of The New Museum (Founder), The Architectural League of New York, Bowery Poetry Club, The Cooper Union, Storefront for Art & Architecture, The Drawing Center. Some of the other events that stand out are: —IDEAS CITY Street ProgramInstitute for Public Architecture: Total ResetKurt Andersen, Carmen Yulín Cruz, and others: MAYORAL CONVERSATION: Finding The Invisible CityRhizome: AIRBNB Pavilion: Stay With MeKim Stanley Robinson, Bjarke Ingels: Make No Little Plans: A CONVERSATION IN TWO PARTS:Part 1. Toward A Plausible UtopiaMunicipal Art Society, Architizer: Pitching the CityManny Cantor Center, Laura Nova: Moving Stories
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Lawsuit Filed to Block Cooper Union Tuition

A group of Cooper Union professors, alumni, and students has filed a lawsuit against the school’s Board of Trustees over its decision last spring to start charging undergraduate tuition at the school. At the time, the board said the cash-strapped institution had no choice but to break their long-held tradition of offering free arts and architecture education. They announced that the change would go into effect this coming fall, and that tuition would be set on a sliding scale. The group who filed the suit—the Committee to Save Cooper Union—is attempting to block this change before new students arrive this fall. The committee is also calling for an audit into the school’s finances, which they allege have been grossly mismanaged. According to the New York Daily News, "the scathing Manhattan Supreme Court documents accuse the school’s leaders of spending on fancy new buildings, borrowing more money than the school could afford and losing tens of millions by investing in a trustee’s own hedge fund." One of those "fancy new buildings" is the school’s gleaming, 175,000-square-foot structure designed by Morphosis that opened five years ago. A spokesperson for Cooper Union said, in part, "we are disappointed that the Committee to Save Cooper Union would choose costly litigation over constructive conversation."
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Revolving Dean Door: Schools Coast to Coast In Search of New Leadership

There is a rumor making its way around the West Coast that Thom Mayne may have more than a new building in New York. He may be headed east to become dean of Columbia University, replacing the departing Mark Wigley. But we have also heard—despite his protests that he is happy sailing to Catalina—that Greg Lynn may also be interested in the Morningside Heights position. It could be that Lynn would join his wife, Sylvia Lavin, who has long coveted an East Coast deanship. How about if Mark Wigley and MoMA’s departing Barry Bergdoll simply swap positions? There seem to be no end to the rumors of who may be filling one of the vacant deans posts at Cooper Union, Columbia, California College of the Arts in San Francisco, Cranbrook, or the University of Kentucky. We hear that Cooper Union is assembling names and has created a short list (who would want that job now?) that includes the names of several current deans as well as alumnus Daniel Libeskind and philosopher poet Peter Lynch. Then what will happen in the next two years when deanships become available at Penn Design, Yale, and Sci-Arc? Now that Aaron Betsky has left parochial Cincinnati he may be looking for a more hospitable place to work.
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Free Again?

Students have ended a week-long protest at Cooper Union. (Courtesy Free Cooper Union / Facebook) Cooper Union students’ 65-day occupation of the President’s office has come to an end. The board of trustees, administration, and student occupiers announced this month that the school will now reconsider its controversial decision to end its tradition of free tuition. A new proposal establishes a “Working Group”—consisting of a selection of trustees, faculty members, students, alumni, and administrators—to examine the school’s finances and come up with a strategy to reinstate its full-tuition scholarship for students. The Working Group will provide recommendations to the Board of Trustees by December 1, 2013. (Photo: Courtesy Free Cooper Union / Facebook)
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Letter to the Editor> Cooper Union’s President Emeritus Responds

[ Editor's Note: The following comment appeared on AN's website in response to the editorial, “Cooper Union’s Tragic Compromises,” which cited a report in the New York Times, titled “How Errors in Investing Cost a College Its Legacy.” The selection ran as a letter to the editor that ran in print edition, AN08_06.05.2013. Opinions expressed in letters to the editor do not necessarily reflect the opinions or sentiments of the newspaper. AN welcomes reader letters, which could appear in our regional print editions. To share your opinion, please email] The article on Cooper Union, “How Errors in Investing Cost a College Its Legacy,” like many others in response to the college’s decision to charge tuition, discusses selected aspects of its financial history, leaves out crucial elements, and offers misleading and outright incorrect details. Left out of the sweeping generalization—“decades of bad decisions”—is that the college experienced a remarkable period of recovery from near bankruptcy in 2001–02, when the annual operating deficit had been more than $10 million for more than a decade, the cash reserves were months from being depleted, and the endowment dipped below $100 million. By 2008, the operating budget returned a surplus, according to the Times article, the endowment had climbed to $710 million, and the $250 million, 12-year capital campaign launched in 2002 had produced more than $20 million per year. Beyond the restructured Chrysler Building lease that will bring a total of $32.5 million in annual revenues plus an estimated $20 million in tax equivalency payments, there were a number of other successful real estate transactions during this period. It is often stated that the college borrowed $175 million to build a new academic building. This is a gross misrepresentation of a complex transaction that consolidated the institution’s existing debt, permitted the college to add $34 million to its investment portfolio, and, most importantly, enabled the development of 51 Astor Place (the old engineering building) that returned $100 million to the endowment in 2008. In addition, the latter, together with the 26 Astor Place transaction, assuming a reasonable investment return together with rents or tax equivalency payments on those properties, yield annual revenues that more than cover the debt service on the loan. These were, in fact, very sophisticated deals that brought a net positive financial return to the college while yielding a state of the art building without which the college could not have sustained a first rate engineering school. These transactions are clearly not a source of the college’s current financial woes. Operating a free university, offering degrees in critical, technology intensive disciplines, has always been an enormously challenging proposition financially, and Cooper Union has been close to giving up this aspect of its mission many times before. While I do not know enough about the current financials to comment on the decision to charge tuition, I have to believe there are other choices that could be made. George Campbell Jr., Ph.D. President Emeritus The Cooper Union
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Free No More: Cooper Union Trustees Choose Tuition

After nearly two years of intense debate and student protests, Cooper Union has announced that it will end its 155-year tradition of tuition-free education—a hallmark of the prestigious institution. The school’s board of trustees said in a statement that budget-cutting measures could not relieve the $12 million annual deficit it has on its hands. The new policy will cut the full tuition-free scholarship to 50 percent for the undergraduate class beginning in fall 2014. Depending on financial need, a student could pay nothing or up to $20,000. Industrialist Peter Cooper founded the school in 1859 on the premise of providing a first-rate, free education to the working classes.
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On View> Cooper Union Exhibition Explores Environmental Design in Modernism

Lessons From Modernism is the smartest and most compelling exhibition ever mounted in New York (and maybe anywhere) on the influence of nature and the environment in architectural design. This Cooper Union exhibition looks at and analyzes 25 iconic modern buildings from architects like Le Corbusier, Paul Rudolph, Jean Prouvé, and Oscar Niemeyer. Conceived and curated by Cooper Union Professor Kevin Bone, Lessons From Modernism brilliantly demonstrates how these and other important modern architects integrated environmental concerns into their designs and "explores the extent to which these practices have produced environmentally performative and distinctive architecture." Staged in a school known for its formal architectural inventions it makes the case that environmental design has long been a a foregrounded consideration in the creation of architecture and not something created by by the United States Building Council and its LEED certification process. Professor Bone has created a valuable time line of major landmarks in the environmental design movement and directed his students to produce precise and beautiful models of these 25 buildings. The exhibition includes analytical drawings illustrating the sustainable design issues within each project in the show and includes texts by Professor Bone, Kenneth Frampton, Lydia Kallipoliti, and Carl Stein. The show runs through March 23 so run to see it before it vanishes.  
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Cooper Union's Hejduk Award Goes To Morris/Sato Studio

Cooper Union's John Q. Hejduk Award for Architecture has been given to Michael Morris and Yoshiko Sato at the schools Founder's Day ceremony. The two architect's both attended Cooper Union graduating in 1989. In addition to teaching at Cooper, Columbia, Harvard and Parsons, the pair were well known for their design, lectures, and research for Dupont's Corian products (including the design for Corian's New York showroom) and collaboration with NASA's Johnson Space Center on human habitability projects for future missions and life beyond earth. Morris accepted the award for himself and Sato who died last year and was given the award posthumously.
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Student Lock-In Ends at Cooper Union

The eleven Cooper Union students who barricaded themselves in a classroom in the school's Foundation Building at Astor Place ended their week-long protest on Monday. The students aimed to draw attention to the school's decision in April to charge tuition for some of its graduate programs, which, like the schools undergraduate degree programs, have been free to students thanks to an endowment established in 1902. Over the years, this has made Cooper Union one of the most desirable—and as a result, one of the most selective—schools in the country. Cooper Union leadership has said that the school must find a way to cover its increasing operating costs, but the students took the position that grad school tuition creates a slippery slope, one that they worry could easily bleed over to undergraduate degree programs. The New York Times reported that students affiliated with Cooper Union Student Action to Save Our School "presented a document by a group called the Undergraduate Tuition Committee, which appeared to suggest charging undergraduate tuition." Cooper Union representatives countered by saying that this was only one of several preliminary exploratory measures that will be reviewed in 2013. If nothing else, students succeeded in drawing attention to their cause, arguing that a tuition-free school was essential to the school's mission. Symbolically, the students camped out in the eighth floor suite named after Peter Cooper, the New York industrialist who founded the school. Cooper, who lacked a formal education himself yet went on to great success in business, firmly believed that everyone should have access to an education. In his remarks at the closing exercises of the first session of the new "Union" in 1860, Cooper stated: "The income of the corporation derived from the rents of the stores and offices and of the Hall, has been sufficient to maintain a free reading room filled with magazines and newspapers, a picture gallery, the school of design for women, classes of instruction in chemistry, mechanical philosophy, mathematics, music, architectural, mechanical and free-hand drawing, free of expense to all applicants." Cooper Union's Great Hall as well as its new Morphosis building are already serving  as busy venues, but maybe there are more business tips to be taken from Cooper himself—the shops at Cooper Union? Cooper Union co-working space? Here's hoping that the trustees think as creatively as Cooper once did.