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 "Thom Mayne":
We know Thom Mayne and Morphosis are moving. Now we know they're moving REALLY soon. Their new headquarters, located just next to the new Expo Line tracks in Culver City, started construction last summer and are wrapping up this month. They need to move in by July 1, said Mayne, because the lease to their rented warehouse space next door is up. That should get things moving, despite some delays because of this year's heavy rains. The double-height building will soon be clad with perforated metal panels, plywood, and a network of trellises containing vines and other plants, said Salvador Hildalgo, one of the project managers/architects/jack-of-all-trades. Inside it will contain not only offices but a large gallery to show off the firm's work, and Mayne's own artwork. It will also contain large shop areas and a zone to show off in-progress mockups. Several skylights will keep the firm from having to turn on the lights during the day. The firm moved out of its old Santa Monica offices, where it had been for about 20 years, last August. Mayne calls the building, which he says will be grid-neutral thanks to its efficient envelope and PV panels, a "neutral armature," and "anti-formal." Below see the progress of the building since it began construction.
LA starchitect Thom Mayne recently took some time to share his art/sculpture with our friends at Form magazine. The three-dimensional pieces reveal his love for investigating hard-edged metallic shards, architectural movement, faceted surfaces, hovering forms and general chaos; all major forces in his architecture. It makes us think of the other architects who are also sculptors, and just what the difference is between architecture and sculpture these days anyway? (Since software does so much of the heavy lifting now, many would say there isn't any difference.) Here are a few of our other favorites, whose art often informs, and sometimes mirrors, their architecture: Santiago Calatrava Zaha Hadid Frank Gehry Maya Lin Oscar Niemeyer
After years in the spotlight it appears that University of Southern California (USC) uber-alum Frank Gehry has decided it's time to give back. The school announced today that Gehry has been named the school's Judge Widney Professor of Architecture. He's also taught at Columbia and Yale, but this is his first time teaching at his Alma Mater. It's not clear yet what classes he's going to lead. Gehry, 81, graduated from USC (B.Arch) back in 1954. He's arguably the school's most famous alumnus, but there is good competition, including architects Thom Mayne and Gregory Ain, astronaut Neil Armstrong, filmmaker George Lucas, and, of course, O.J. Simpson.
The Daily Beast features a very interesting article about LA's "Culture King" Eli Broad. The writer, LA Weekly's Tom Christie, details Broad's incredible spending spree on culture (not to mention on education and science), from the Broad Stage in Santa Monica to his new museum downtown, putting him in the company of other legendary—and, um, challenging— LA philanthropists like Norton Simon and J. Paul Getty. While art world figures like Michael Govan take their shots, few architects appear willing to talk on record about the intrusive client (Broad calls himself "strong willed" in the story). But one of them is Thom Mayne, who doesn't pull many punches, although in the end seems to have an affinity for Broad. As for their failed partnership on the downtown museum, Mayne gets in a little dig: "We worked for a while, and we just reached a mutual understanding that we weren’t going to work together… It’s my city, and I didn’t want to produce a building I wasn’t proud of.”. Another revealing tidbit “I think he’s crazy as a loon half the time, and I don’t agree with him. But I have great admiration for him, and I actually like him.” For his part Broad gets in a slap at those who criticize his style: “Why don’t they join in the L.A. cultural life, rather than [sit] back and [offer] commentary?”
As promised yesterday, we are going paparazzi. We have pix of the architecture event of the week: the opening of LA's A+D Museum. (See Slideshow Here). The event drew hundreds into the museum's brand new space, a beautiful white jewel box located on the ground floor of a midcentury office building. Guests were treated to tunes from KCRW DJ Tom Schnabel, and bid on works of art and sculpture created by some of LA's biggest architects and cultural icons. Big names contributing work included Bruce Mau, Max Neutra, Lorcan O'Herlihy, Thom Mayne, Richard Meier, Hitoshi Abe, and many more. And so it begins for a museum that has for years been known for not having its own space. Welcome home.
Granted he's won the Pritzker Prize and had a string of recent successes, but all the same we were more than surprised to get a forwarded White House press release from Morphosis today touting the appointment of Thom Mayne, one of the industry's gruffer individuals, to the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities. He is the only practicing architect on the list. Created in 1982, the committee, according to its website, brings, well, the arts and humanities into the White House. Headed by the First Lady, activities under the previous administration included an "unprecedented" cultural exchange with China, a "bi-national cultural communique" with Mexico, and the creation of the Coming Up Taller awards to honor school-age artists. Of the 24 other committee members, there is one other architect, Christine Forester, though she has left the field for marketing and branding in the 1980s according to the release. Noted green guy and urban thinker Ed Norten is also a committee member, as are other notables Teresa Heinz Kerry, Yo-Yo Ma, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kerry Washington, Forest Whitaker, and Anna Wintour. And despite our initial suspicions, a search of public records show no political contributions on behalf of Mayne.
REVEALING BITS Stephen Ehrlich is known to be a mild-mannered LA architect. But it looks like that wasn’t always so. As part of his tribute at Julius Shulman’s memorial service in September, Ehrlich bared not only his praise for Shulman, but also his butt cheeks. He wasn’t at the event, but the Getty presented an image that Shulman took of him in his—shall we say—perkier days. He was obviously hitting the beach a lot then, because we saw some serious tan lines. Uncle Julius, maybe you had another career waiting in the centerfolds? YOUR PINK SLIPS ARE SHOWING The layoffs continue unabated. But it’s even more painful when the firm doing the layoffs just bought your company. Our always (well, almost-always) reliable sources tell us that architecture giant Perkins + Will has just laid off more than 25 people in its San Francisco office. Around ten of them are former employees of SF firm SMWM, which merged with Perkins + Will about a year ago. Guess that M&A plan wasn’t such a good idea, was it? EASY LISTENING The gossip goldmine that is the Monterey Design Conference has delivered yet again. ... Send tips, gossip, and job fairs to Eavesdrop@archpaper.com
PACKING UP CAMP Now that Donald Fisher’s CAMP project in San Francisco is officially dead, talk is swirling about where the Gap founder’s art collection will go. The whispers have focused on one obvious suspect: SFMOMA, which has already begun planning a 100,000-square-foot expansion that could get even bigger. One rumor has it that the museum is talking to the city about acquiring an adjoining fire station and building a new one elsewhere in return, in order to offer the Fishers their own digs. SFMOMA director Neal Benezra coyly parried questions with the comment: “We welcome the opportunity to partner with the Fishers to find a home for their collection as part of an expanded SFMOMA campus.” PEARLS BEFORE SCI-ARC Few talking heads can dent an architectural ego like critic, curator, and professor Jeff Kipnis, who moderated a chat at SCI-Arc on July 29 with Eric Owen Moss and Thom Mayne about Moss’ new installation at the school. Among Kipnis’ gems, he praised Moss’ garrulousness with the bon mot that he got paid by the hour for such events, and marveled at Moss and Mayne’s ability to argue with themselves—not among themselves, mind you, but each with his own self! Days later SCI-Arc hosted another panel, this time with Moss, Mayne, Hitoshi Abe, Peter Cook, Wolf Prix, and Peter Noever, among others. The event had the makings of a navel-gazing nightmare, but Eavesdrop promptly fell asleep and can’t recall a thing. Honest. RAISE HIGH THE WINDOW WALLS Everyone adores the Center for Architecture in New York, the storefront space run by the AIA New York chapter that draws more activity than any other such facility. Word has it that AIA Los Angeles is among those green with envy, which could mean a departure from its eighth-floor digs in Mid-Wilshire. The group is said to have hired a real estate consultant to scout locations nearer to Museum Mile. Will Wright, head of legislative affairs at AIA/LA, was semi-mum on the matter: “We have long-range plans to evaluate the opportunity to evolve into an Architecture Center.” Roger that, Will. Easy does it, we always say.
Widely accepted as the greatest public radio station on the planet, KCRW is famous for its groundbreaking music played by DJs who are smarter, cooler and infinitely better dressers than you. But last week was a bitter one for LA as the station's great Nic Harcourt hung up his headphones as music director. For those of you who are already missing Harcourt's esoteric taste (sometimes a bit difficult to take at 9:03am even after a visit to Intelligensia), never fear: Thom Mayne has stepped into the booth. You heard that right: As part of KCRW's Guest DJ Project, Mayne picked five songs that have inspired him throughout his life. Paired with former music director Tom Schnabel, Mayne sported his usual maniacal grin and a gleam in his eye (above) as he took to the turntable, admitting that on some occasions, he allowed music to help him design: "There’s actually times when I was drawing, closing my eyes, when I have a sketch book where I was moving my hand rhythmically and shaping it and literally trying to shape drawings that were coming directly from various types of music." You can hear the whole set at KCRW.com, but go ahead and rev up your iPod now, because here's what he played: 1.) Dr. John - Right Place, Wrong Time 2.) John Lurie (as Marvin Pontiac) - Runnin' Round 3.) Stevie Ray Vaughn - Texas Flood 4.) Laurie Anderson - Big Science 5.) Prince - Musicology We have to admit we love Mayne's taste in music, which left a dirty Texas BBQ flavor with a sprinkle of bad 80's hair in our mouths. And at least now we can forgive Mayne for the shortcomings of the Caltrans Building: It's clearly not his fault, seeing as he designed it while under the influence of what is easily the worst Prince song in existence. With the possible exception of "Diamonds and Pearls."