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The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art / Morphosis Architects

  • 01:00 - 12 November, 2009
The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art / Morphosis Architects
The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art / Morphosis Architects, © Iwan Baan
© Iwan Baan

© Iwan Baan © Iwan Baan © Iwan Baan © Iwan Baan +38

  • Location

  • Architecture

    Morphosis Architects
  • Project Designers

    Natalia Traverso Caruana, Go-Woon Seo
  • Project Team

    Irena Bedenikovic, Salvador Hidalgo, Debbie Lin, Kristina Loock,
  • Associated Architect

    Gruzen Samton
  • Model Team

    Reinhard Schmoelzer with Patrick Dunn-Baker, Charles Austin, Sean Anderson, Domenique Cheng, Soohyun Cheng, Eui Yeob Jeong, Amy Kwok, Shannon Loew, Brock Hinze, Hugo Martinez, Greg Neudorf
  • Project Assistants

    Ben Damron, Graham Ferrier
  • It Co Ordinator

    Marty Doscher
  • Owner's Representative

    Jonathan Rose Companies
  • General Contractor

    FJ Sciame
  • Client

    The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art
  • Program

    Academic and laboratory building with exhibition gallery, auditorium, lounge and multi-purpose space, and retail space
  • Area

    16258.0 sqm
  • Project Year

  • Photographs

41 Cooper Square, the new academic building for The Cooper Union, aspires to manifest the character, culture and vibrancy of both the 150 year-old institution and of the city in which it was founded. The institution remains committed to Peter Cooper’s radically optimistic intention to provide an education “as free as water and air” and has subsequently grown to become a renowned intellectual and cultural center for the City of New York. 41 Cooper Square aspires to reflect the institution’s stated goal to create an iconic building – one that reflects its values and aspirations as a center for advanced and innovative education in Art, Architecture and Engineering.

© Iwan Baan
© Iwan Baan

Internally, the building is conceived as a vehicle to foster collaboration and cross-disciplinary dialogue among the college’s three schools, previously housed in separate buildings. A vertical piazza—the central space for informal social, intellectual and creative exchange—forms the heart of the new academic building. An undulating lattice envelopes a 20-foot wide grand stair which ascends four stories from the ground level through the sky-lit central atrium, which itself reaches to the full height of the building. This vertical piazza is the social heart of the building, providing a place for impromptu and planned meetings, student gatherings, lectures, and for the intellectual debate that defines the academic environment.

© Iwan Baan
© Iwan Baan

From the double-high entry lobby, the grand stair ascends four stories to terminate in a glazed double-high student lounge overlooking the city. On the fifth through ninth floors, sky lobbies and meeting places—including a student lounge, seminar rooms, lockers, and seating areas overlooking the cityscape—are organized around the central atrium. Sky bridges span the atrium to create connections between these informal spaces. Further reinforcement of the strategy to create a vibrant intellectual space is provided by the “skip-stop” circulation strategy which allows for both increased physical activity and for more impromptu meeting opportunities. The primary skip-stop elevators, which make stops at the first, fifth and eighth floors, encourage occupants to use the grand stairs and sky bridges. Secondary elevators stop at each floor, both for ADA compliance and for the practical tasks of moving materials, artworks, and equipment.

© Iwan Baan
© Iwan Baan

In the spirit of the institution’s dedication to free, open and accessible education, the building itself is symbolically open to the city. Visual transparencies and accessible public spaces connect the institution to the physical, social and cultural fabric of its urban context. At street level, the transparent facade invites the neighborhood to observe and to take part in the intensity of activity contained within. Many of the public functions - an exhibition gallery, board room and a two-hundred-seat auditorium - are easily accessible one level below grade.

© Iwan Baan
© Iwan Baan

The building reverberates with light, shadow and transparency via a high performance exterior double skin whose semi-transparent layer of perforated stainless steel wraps the building’s glazed envelope to provide critical interior environmental control, while also allowing for transparencies to reveal the creative activity occurring within. Responding to its urban context, the sculpted facade establishes a distinctive identity for Cooper Square. The building’s corner entry lifts up to draw people into the lobby in a deferential gesture towards the institution’s historic Foundation Building. The façade registers the iconic, curving profile of the central atrium as a glazed figure that appears to be carved out of the Third Avenue façade, connecting the creative and social heart of the building to the street.

© Iwan Baan
© Iwan Baan

Built to LEED Gold standards and likely to achieve a Platinum rating, 41 Cooper Square will be the first LEED-certified academic laboratory building in New York City. Advanced green building initiatives include:

© Iwan Baan
© Iwan Baan

An operable building skin made of perforated stainless steel panels offset from a glass and aluminum window wall. The panels reduce the impact of heat radiation during the summer and insulate interior spaces during the winter.

© Iwan Baan
© Iwan Baan

Radiant heating and cooling ceiling panels introduce innovative HVAC technology that will boost energy efficiency. This contributes to making the new building 40 percent more energy efficient than a standard building of its type.

© Iwan Baan
© Iwan Baan

A full-height atrium enables unique circulation for building occupants, improves the flow of air and provides increased interior day lighting.

Seventy-five percent of the building’s regularly occupied spaces are lit by natural daylight.

A green roof insulates the building, reduces city “heat island” effect, storm water runoff and pollutants; harvested water is reused.

A cogeneration plant provides additional power to the building, recovers waste heat and effectively cuts energy costs.

Flexible state-of-the-art laboratories, studios and classrooms are specifically designed to accommodate pedagogical objectives, as well as current and future research activities.


This aggregation of progressive green building initiatives combines with the building’s social spaces and urban connectivity to support Cooper Union in advancing its legacy of innovative ideas, cross-disciplinary knowledge, and creative practices well into the future.

Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address. Cite: "The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art / Morphosis Architects" 12 Nov 2009. ArchDaily. Accessed . <>
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M2 Contracting · August 17, 2012

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cool Architecture · January 08, 2011

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Reading: "The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art / Morphosis Architects | ArchDaily"( )

{ kat } · November 16, 2009

i cannot speak to the interior of the architecture from experience, but i walk by this about once a week and it is always a refreshing sight. from a bird's eye photograph it looks rather intimidating and as some have said feels like it does not belong, but from a street view it is stellar! a great building that reflects the younger crowds in the area.

preetty sandhu · November 16, 2009

i like it.

Fernando · November 14, 2009

Looks post-apocalyptic! No need to fly airplanes into buildings to get that nice 'lived-in' feel that they desperately seek in NYC... haha

snuffaluffagus · November 14, 2009

what do the studios even look like?!?! I can't seem to find images of them anywhere. Are they that bad?

jGo · November 14, 2009

Disappointing! The space looks pretty unusable as there are columns awkwardly located in nearly every room. Seems like form making at the detriment of function (and bad form making at that). It's all far too arbitrary. The only nice part is the internal stair, but I still have no idea why.

Andrew Geber · November 13, 2009

i wanna see MORE of this type of dynamic architecture!

hungdang · November 13, 2009

i can not say anythings. it is very wonderful

@ · November 13, 2009

This is a perfect example of the great schism that Koolhaas speaks of in Delirious New York. What makes the project interesting is its conflicted nature. The tension animates the building which allows it to match the energy of its population as well as the city.

On another note, morphosis has had issues with aligning the detailing for cladding in the past (University of Cincinnati Rec Center) I cant tell from the pictures but it seems as though this building may have some similar issues(where the exterior scrim meets the siding of the gash). Its unfortunate that such an interesting project falls victim to economical detailing.

Scott · November 13, 2009

Morphosis's excels at creating spaces that are very well connected and overlapped to create some great experiences. It seems like they had to hold back for some reason on this project with the fairly basic stacked floors and the straight corridors. The central stair looks like its quite nice though and works well with the facade.

kagayakitecture · November 13, 2009

Wow... In a sea of contextual buildings, come this accent... I would say it's pretty nice.. Thom Mayne really can make those vertical plaza... and LEED certified... I would say I'm proud..

Leonizzy · November 13, 2009

My sister studies there. The students hate it, because they lost so much square footage, as well as their only informal collaborative space (that doubled as a game room/resting place). There are a few classrooms in the basement, with no windows at all, at the expense of a few study lounges with corner windows. The classrooms themselves are smaller than they used to be, and there are some really awkward leftover spaces (the result of the geometrical conflict pointed out by Henry). The main staircase ha a break between the 6th and 7th floors, where students have to take the fire stairs between floors.
This building has an amazing street presence, and definitely is a welcome addition to the streets of New York. But these public gestures and formal acrobatics were made at the expense of the users and their primary needs.

SB · November 13, 2009

He is the mayne!

Henry · November 13, 2009

Its proportions and alienation from the grid of the city reminds me of the original Cooper building--with the clock. The building is conflicted. The plan is made of right angles square-traditional rooms and mundane halls (besides the vertical piece that's cut through this). The building is essentially a box with some decorations and cuts. The architect should decide between a rigid square form or one that is free or somewhat chaotic.

L dog · November 13, 2009

the definition of a "double skin"

Marcus Des · November 13, 2009

Can't judge from photo's, but I love looking at them, there's something very mesmerizing about those unexpected shapes. Hope Morphosis is going to do more in Europe! Great coverage.

ness · November 13, 2009


cad · November 13, 2009

the pigeons gonna love this place

Glazed · November 12, 2009

Would like to know what generated the form of the vertical "piazza". Was program laid out which created the void? Was the void designed as a form, with program laid out around it?

Here's my quib - the distorted grid/trellis that follows the stairs appears purely cosmetic and non-structural. I don't see its purpose other than to scream "distorted and cool." Contrast this to the Diamond Ranch High School that seems more restrained - and quite successful because of that.

cmk · November 12, 2009

As someone who looks out my office window at this building every day, I assert it is the most refreshing piece of architecture in New York in years! The building makes me smile every day and that's not easy to do.

ygogolak · November 12, 2009

Here's a good article on the design process:

Mike Bloomberg · November 13, 2009 05:17 AM

Thanks for the link. Archdaily was pretty late to post this project. Very late I would say. The link you posted above enlighten me.

archimedialab · November 12, 2009

.... and finally decent photographs of it.

ygogolak · November 12, 2009 09:49 PM

The only new one is from the water tower. All the others have been released before. The diagrams are new though, but they are probably on morpohpedia.

N!CK · November 12, 2009

I would rather take the stairs in stead of the elevator

A Sphere · November 12, 2009

Because I'm worth it
Cooper Union and Morphosis
like a famous Slogan

carlos · November 12, 2009


jg · November 13, 2009 09:13 AM

callate, carlos!

furqiii · November 12, 2009

this is indeed an amazin piece of architecture!!!!!

B.m.eid · November 12, 2009

What a wonderfull building!
clean plan, amazing faace, and stunning vertical plaza!

asd · November 12, 2009


dados · November 12, 2009

In before "It's just a normal buildling with a fancy skin"

I like the vertical plaza idea and I think the geometry is better than what most architects do when they try to copy something like this. I'd like a picture of the street entrance stairway though.

jimmydesigner · February 07, 2010 08:39 PM

Does anyone know which softwares Morphosis uses to "design" their buildings?
I have heard they use Rhino but then how do you transfer the model to another production software (Construction Documents) like Autocad, Microstation?


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© Iwan Baan

库珀高等科学艺术联盟学院 / Morphosis Architects