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.
Posts tagged with "Cooper Union":
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 email@example.com
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.
On December 2, Werner Sobek, IIT professor and founder of Werner Sobek Engineering and Design, delivered the third annual Franzen Lecture for Architecture and the Environment at the Cooper Union. Sobek, who is also head of the Institute for Lightweight Structures and Conceptual Design (ILEK) at the University of Stuttgart, discussed experiments at the institute to develop an inflatable-fabric-structural-envelope-system-prototype, or “sausage” to be economical. Our eyewitness reports that after much exposition about inflatable fabric membranes, New York architect Toshiko Mori, who moderated the discussion, offered that she had sat on Werner's inflatable sausage, because he wanted her to test the resistive properties to make sure it could withstand the pressure. Tittering spread through the audience, said our witness, who admitted that he lost track of the discussion. Yes, folks, this is what passes for randy double entendre in the academy.
Last week, the Rockefeller Foundation handed out its Jane Jacobs Medal, now in its third year, at a fête at Thom Mayne’s sumptuous new Cooper Union building. Guests were initially relegated to a basement parlor for drinks before being ushered across the hall into the jaw-dropping Frederick P. Rose Auditorium, which is said to be the little sister of the famed 1858 Great Hall in the main building. Maybe—but only if she were wearing a gauzy, wrinkled sheath dress of aluminum lace. Could there be nicer acoustical baffling? Cooper president George Campbell, Jr., introduced Judith Rodin, president of the foundation. Before beginning her remarks, Rodin gave a shout out to a trio of city commissioners who were equal parts guests of honor and comrades at arms: Planning’s Amanda Burden, Transportation’s Janette Sadik-Khan, and, newest of the pack, HPD’s Rafael Cestero. Rodin noted that exactly 50 years ago this month, the foundation awarded its first two grants, one of which happened to go to a housewife from Manhattan. “It was to support her monograph, that single most import book on the rebuilding of the city,” Rodin said. “That kicked off 50 years of thinking about and working on urban issues.” It is in Jacobs’ honor that the awards were created in 2007, one for Lifetime Leadership, the other for New Ideas and Activism. This year’s honorees were Damaris Reyes, executive director of the Good Old Lower East Side, and Richard Kahan, founder and CEO of the Urban Assembly schools. (You can watch a nice video profile of the two shot by the Municipal Art Society, co-sponsor of the awards, below.) First up after Rodin was New Yorker architecture critic and man about town Paul Goldberger to award Kahan his medal. He had many beautiful things to say, repeatedly comparing the former head of the Urban Development Corporation to Jacobs herself: “Like Jane Jacobs, Richard Kahan loves New York and sees it with a clarity that uncovers its humanism.” “He’s a skeptic, like Jane Jacobs, but like Jane, he’s never let his skepticism spill over into cynicism.” “He was in training to be Robert Moses, not Jane Jacobs, but fortunately for us, that’s not how it worked out.” Kahan thanked Goldberger, and then admitted that while he was honored to be receiving the lifetime achievement, “not to be ungrateful, but I’d rather be getting the award for the up-and-comer.” Circling around to Goldberger’s point, Kahan said that Moses versus Jacobs “presents a false dichotomy.” Indeed, the genius of New York was both its intimate scale and its immense monumentality. He said you have to empower the community so it can be a part of big change. Mary Schmidt Campbell, dean of the Tisch School for the Arts at NYU, invoked Howard Zinn’s A People's History of the United States in her introduction for Reyes, and in many ways echoed Kahan saying that Reyes, too, was at the front ranks spending most of her adult life fighting for the rights of public housing residents and the disappearing culture and community of the Lower East Side. In a stirring speech that at times brought her to tears—“I always cry, even though I told myself I wouldn’t tonight”—Reyes recounted her trials and travails in Manhattan’s most mixed neighborhood. “Today the benches are gone, and the street life with it. Mom and Pop shops are disappearing as people are evicted and rents continue to rise. We fight, and we continue to hold out.” Reyes received a standing ovation. The other ovation goes to 41 Cooper. After the medal presentation, guests made their way to the Alumni Roof for some delectable drinks and treats, including a steak bar and make-your-own mash potatoes. Charlie Rose, accompanying Amanda, was ever so gracious to take a picture with our friend and big fan, Nancy. Meanwhile Commissioner Sadik-Khan was chatting it up for part of the night with Paul Steely White of Transportation Alternatives, no doubt cooking up new schemes to foil the city’s drivers. At one point, we bumped into Charles Renfro, Giuseppe Lignano and Adda Tolla of LOT-EK, as well as about a dozen other spiffily dressed folks we took for designers but didn’t happen to know. Former MAS president Kent Barwick told us he would shortly be back in action at the advocacy group, "the resident crank in the attic." "Whenever they need to know about the Peloponnesian War, they'll come ask me," he joked. And his successor, Vin Cipolla, confided in us that he has a soft spot for Solange Knowles though not Beyonce. Also, he promised big things from the MAS in the coming months, after some reorganizing and rethinking. Ron Shiffman, the Pratt professor, community planning advocate, and former city planning commissioner, got a shout-out from Kahan during his speech for being an inspiration. On the roof, Shiffman told us that he was sorry they don’t make ‘em like Kahan anymore, who, after a period of butting heads, came around to plan such path-breaking projects as Battery Park City and the Bronx Center. “You can’t do planning like he did,” Shiffman said, a note of disappointment in his voice. “Not anymore.”