[ 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 email@example.com. ] 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
Posts tagged with "Cooper Union":
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.
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.
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.
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.
Building of the Day #20: 41 Cooper Square The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art New York, NY Often “stats” and awards are known well before the public appreciates a new building’s urban role. Cooper Union’s 41 Cooper Square, designed by Thom Mayne, FAIA, of Morphosis Architects with Gruzen Samton as Associate Architect, is more than a volume for a multi-disciplinary academic building with a co-generation plant, cooling and heating ceiling panels, low V.O.C. materials, green terraces, and “Fit-City”-worthy vertical circulation. While these stats did help the client claim the first LEED Platinum-certified academic laboratory building, Cooper has also revived a former traffic triangle and extended its identity southwards along the new Bowery. At a time when both NYU and Columbia’s building goals face sharp scrutiny, it pays to have a tough skin. Make that a gritty double skin! The west façade’s projected outer skin is so dynamic in section that I only recently understood (via Mayne on YouTube) that it is also gently convex in plan. An eye-catching event along the city’s grid at the start of Third Avenue also reintroduces us to Peter Cooper Park. After 150 years, the short (south) façade of Frederick A. Peterson’s Foundation Building has a worthy urban partner with which to share this public space and the 1897 Peter Cooper Monument (Augustus Saint-Gaudens with a Stanford White base). The Foundation Building employed innovations such as wrought iron framing, ventilation at the below-grade Great Hall and a round elevator shaft. Mayne’s primary elevators skip stops to encourage use of the central open and luminous stair. This void is the heart of 41 Cooper Square, with its walls inflected by labs and studios. The façade gash opens this “heart” to the city and, in return, the city to it. -Arthur Platt, AIA, is Co-chair of AIA New York’s Architectural Tourism Committee and a partner at Fink & Platt Architects. For the info on the tour of tomorrow's Building of the Day click here: Toni Stabile Student Center, Columbia University. Each “Building of the Day” has received a Design Award from the AIA New York Chapter. For the rest of the month—Archtober—we will write here a personal account about the architectural ideas, the urban contexts, programs, clients, technical innovations, and architects that make these buildings noteworthy. Daily posts will track highlights of New York’s new architecture. Read more at www.archtober.org/blog.
Fresh off winning a MacArthur Fellowship, last night Jeanne Gang gave a lecture at the Great Hall at Cooper-Union, organized by the Architectural League, which emphasized her firm's commitment to material research, sustainability, and collaboration with experts from diverse fields. She spoke about an ongoing research project into possibly restoring the natural flow of the Chicago River, which may have intrigued New York's Planning Commissioner, Amanda Burden, who was among those in the audience. The project, in many ways, mirrors the Bloomberg Administration's citywide sustainability efforts. Amale Andraos, from Work AC, introduced Gang and guided her through some gentle questioning. Andraos praised Studio Gang's civic engagement and the persistent "earnestness" of their work. When asked about mentors, Gang praised her unnamed professors, made a glancing reference to having worked for Rem Koolhaas, and said how much she learns from her employees. The Koolhaas connection, which she shares with Andraos, seemed particularly intriguing. Because though Koolhaas's research intensive process certainly inform's Gang's approach--as it has influenced countless architectural practices around the world--Gang's earnestness and plainspoken Midwestern attitude seems almost diametrically opposed to Rem's persona. She also discussed her Tower of Tubes in Lexington, Kentucky, which, though it was well received in the community, has yet to secure financing. In addition she gave an preview of the firm's contribution to MoMA's forthcoming exhibition Foreclosed, which looks at a post-industrial site in Cicero, Illinois. And while she emphasized the importance of community engagement, she said the firm has yet to "spring" the proposal on Cicero.
It's that time of year again: School is giving way to summer vacation, final reviews are winding down, and the life of the architecture student regains some semblance of normalcy. The Cooper Union celebrates this time of year with its traditional End of Year Show, highlighting the work of students in art, architecture, and engineering. Hundreds of projects are now on display at the school's Foundation Building at 7 East 7th Street on Cooper Square. The engineering show just wrapped up, but the architecture showcase runs through June 18 and the art school's work will be on display through June 11. The exhibition is free and open Tuesday through Saturday from noon until 7:00 p.m.. Take a look at a few of the student projects after the jump. Engineering student Maxwell von Stein applied the principles of a hybrid car to the bicycle to harness the kinetic energy typically lost when braking. With a variable transmission and a flywheel mounted to the bike's frame, von Stein's bike allows the rider to pick up speed faster after stopping than with a battery. He takes it for a test ride in the above video. School of Architecture student Daphne Binder sought to bring life to the shores of the Dead Sea. Beyond the actual proposed terraced buildings on a hillside, Binder found her project raising political questions addressing peaceful coexistence. From an exhibition statement: "The site explores the potential for urbanizing the Dead Sea area, based on the premise that architecture can and should play a major role in the protection of our world’s limited water resources. Through the thesis project, architecture student Daphne Binder found herself traversing the divide between two nations. Fundamental to this project is the idea that a peaceful relationship between Israel and Jordan should be celebrated and developed through a shared built environment in order to secure the survival of the Dead Sea. These joint ventures can also create an opportunity of productive discourse between Israel and the Palestinians." Architecture student Audrey Berman's Hearth takes the bread oven mobile, bringing the communal activity of breaking bread to anywhere throughout New York that you can pedal. She wanted the oven to remain flexible for a variety of social situations and to act as "a vehicle for communication." School of Engineering student Helen Minsky created the Scissor Jack Drill to assist in small-scale geothermal installations. From the exhibition statement: "Small scale geothermal heating and cooling has the potential to reduce costs and save energy for individual homes and buildings. If the drilling costs were lower, this would become a more feasible option to help supplement the cost of heating and cooling a home. For our project we designed and built a low-cost drill (budget of $1,000) that could penetrate granite, with the idea that it could be used for the instillation of geothermal heating and cooling systems." Below, School of Art graduate Louis Lim is showing off his installation, Untitled, 2011. The wooden bridge-like structure is composed of creates—natural on the outside but colorfully painted on the inside. The piece enters a dialogue with the surrounding architecture as it moves past columns.
Microsol Resources' Tuesday night presentation of Z Printers at Cooper Union was notable for scale of output, both small and large (very large). The 3-D printers produce a powder-based model where all unused excess material gets recycled within the machine. The copier makes tiny models with extraordinary precision. The prices run from $15,000 to $65,000. But a panel of four presenters said the printer's primary advantage is speed, allowing for new models to be created within 24 hours. Two firms made notable presentations. Xavier De Kestelier, an associate partner at Foster + Partners, veered from the script a bit when he showed a video of a cement printer being developed at Loughborough University in the UK. That hanger sized 3-D printer makes modular units that can be adapted as building components. Then, Wesley Wright, a designer with Pelli Clarke Pelli, brought the conversation back to the Z Printer, which he said has become an integral part of the firm's design process. The firm has four machines operating round the clock. Sketching right onto the models during the review process is not uncommon. In a video, no less than the maestro himself, César Pelli, intones on the importance of model making in general and on 3-D printers in particular. Wright has graciously, and exclusively, shared his video with AN. We nabbed the Foster/Loughborough video from YouTube. (Scroll down for the videos!) Pelli on Models from Architect's Newspaper on Vimeo.
BEFORE SUBZERO, REFRIGERATORS WERE WHITE (OR AVOCADO) Eavesdrop jetted to pollen-crusted Raleigh, NC, with an eclectic herd of reporters from the likes of Sculpture magazine and The Jewish Daily Forward to tour the North Carolina Museum of Art expansion designed by Thomas Phifer. We were not disappointed. The 127,000-square-foot museum is an elegant, single-story box penetrated by courtyards, pools, and gardens. The interior and exterior details are so deliciously subtle that they seemed to elude some of the mainstream press, who asked him why he didn’t site the building to dominate the street. Articulate and precise, Phifer hypnotized the skeptics by explaining every strategy convincingly, and they hung on his every word. (Check out AN correspondent Thomas de Monchaux’s own critical appraisal in our next issue.) Later, as the tour wound down, and journalists were milling about in the lobby, Eavesdrop overheard two gentlemen relaxing on a bench and discussing the building’s aesthetics. The one with deep architectural insight commented to his older companion: “White. All the walls are white. Everything is white! I wondered what that was about, and then I remembered that Phifer worked for Richard Meier for years. That’s where he got his refrigerator-door palette!” Eavesdrop almost collapsed. CHANNELING WARHOL Attention, iPhoneys. “Is This Art?” is a new iPhone app “designed for people who have questions about the artistic integrity of their surroundings.” Using the iPhone’s camera, the app’s Pittsburgh-based developers claim they will instantly provide users with an “authoritative declaration of artistic importance.” This could work for architecture, thought Eavesdrop, which found three architecture-related submissions in its reservoir. The bloated, rainbow-colored “Hell, Yes!” barnacle on the New Museum in New York was panned with “I do not understand it; therefore, THIS NOT ART.” The merit of W.R. Dalzell’s apparently out-of-print book Architecture: The Indispensable Art was confirmed with “This work’s materiality is immaterial; therefore, THIS IS ART.” What is art, the cover or its contents? The same approval rating was bestowed on a bland window wall of a building that looks like a stillborn Dwell house. First one to submit a picture of Danny Libeskind’s Dresden Military History Museum wins. FAREWELL FEUD Raimund Abraham, who died in a car accident on March 4 in Los Angeles, had been a faculty member at Cooper Union since 1971, along with other long-timers such as Lebbeus Woods, Diane Lewis, and Kevin Bone. And while a memorial for Abraham in Vienna at the MAK Museum is planned for June 11 (including Peter Eisenman, Michael Rotondi, Wolf Prix, and Woods as speakers) in spite of his renouncing Austrian citizenship in 2002, factions at Cooper Union have proved so fractious that no date or program for a memorial in New York has yet been set. Send vintage Kelvinators and Frigidaires to firstname.lastname@example.org
When I first encountered the work of the architect and painter Anthony Candido, it was moving—or rather, the dancers whose costumes he had splashed with black paint were moving across the floor in a work choreographed by Nancy Meehan. The irregular black strokes and drips seemed to both follow and impel the dancer’s movement, melding abstract thought and nature through gesture. Candido’s current exhibition, The Great White Whale Is Black at Cooper Union in New York, more than fulfills the promise of the costume designs, for it offers a rich body of work spanning five decades of an extraordinary career. Included in the show, on view at the school’s Arthur A. Houghton Jr. Gallery, are Candido’s visionary cable cities. Executed in a manner that implies a quick thought—yet reflecting years of study and experience—the style recalls that of the New York school in its rapid execution, simultaneously implying a kind of personal handwriting, aerial plan, and rendering in an abstract yet universal language. Consistent with these works are the large-scale brush stroke paintings: linear, calligraphic ramblings across tall vertical panels that progressively fill the surface with near-absolute darkness. Exhibited for the first time in the U.S. are the Asahikawa Heads—again, a series of tall, thin panels covered with lines that coagulate into enormous heads seemingly stuck to the surface. Interestingly, the elusive sense of scale inherent in such abstractions is countered in the exquisite little sketches, which show a single seated or perambulating figure in the artist’s more overtly architectural drawings. The larger double images are motivated by what Candido describes as a “duality in man’s mind of nature and the abstract,” a duality that materializes as a divided canvas or page. Here figure and calligraphic mark are relegated to separate zones, and yet clearly inhabit the same surface, disintegrating any real barrier between nature and the abstract. Enhancing the show is a series of designs for urban farms by students in a course that Candido taught at Cooper Union, where he is on the faculty of the Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture. In the concept for this student project, one detects Candido’s training in city planning under Ludwig Hilberseimer. Despite the enormous production of drawings and paintings, Candido has also had an important career as a designer. He made the first design for the longitudinal elevation of Konrad Wachsmann’s Air Force hangar, developed in the early 1950s, and was an architectural designer for I.M. Pei from 1954 to 1957. Noteworthy from that period was his design for a single-support, 180-foot diameter steel-and-glass structure at Roosevelt Field on Long Island. He also made a major contribution to the design of the U.S. Pavilion for Expo ’70 by Davis and Brody Architects. This show represents a fearless departure from exhibitions of traditional, often impersonal architectural renderings, and a bold venture into a way of uniting personal notions of representation to suggest large, abstract concepts. Ultimately, it charts the way the mind creates form and the individual understands the world.
If you're an architecture geek like us, you love playing Spot the Building while watching TV or at the movies. (The International, otherwise mediocre, is one of our favorites for this very reason.) That's why this Cadillac commercial caught us so off guard when we saw it the other day. At first, we knew we recognized the "museum" at the start, even though it wasn't actually one. In fact, it wasn't even one building. The big photos of the Caddy are on display in the 14th floor double-height cafeteria at Renzo Piano's Times building, a nice touch given the cool light effects the building's (very climbable) ceramic bars create. But then, their gallery-going complete, the happy yuppie couple step outside into... Huh? That's not Times Square but Cooper Square! Somehow, through the magic of advertising, we've been transported downtown, outside Morphosis' new Cooper Union building. As though the restrained rectilinear forms of Piano could be mistaken for the curvilinear craziness of Thom Mayne! Nice try, Madison Avenue fatcats. You can't pull a fast one on The Architect's Newspaper.