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Saturday, October 03, 2009

Cooper Union, 41 Cooper Square, New York, United States

Morphosis' interior design of Cooper Union building revealed
In June this year WAN brought you the first look at the exterior of Thom Mayne's spectacularly individual Cooper Union building in New York ahead of its official completion. Now that the hub for future architects is fully functional, with its ribbon cutting earlier this month, new images have been released revealing its inner sanctum.

The Cooper Union is one of the United States oldest higher education facilities, founded in 1859 by Peter Cooper and includes the Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture. Specialising in the advancement of science and art the 150 year-old's new building is designed to reflect Cooper’s fundamental belief that education of the highest quality should be as 'free as air and water'. The images taken by Iwan Baan show the community spirit embodied within building's vast open spaces, a cohesive design and an inspirational attention to detail.

"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," said Mayne. "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."

The building is a definitive landmark both for The Cooper Union and New York's Cooper Square connecting the school to its community.

"In the spirit of the institution’s dedication to free, open and accessible education, the building itself is symbolically open to the city," added Mayne. "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."

As part of this connection 8,800 sq ft of public space takes form in the Frederick P. Rose Auditorium, the Menschel Board Room, and the Jacques and Natasha Gelman Exhibition Foyer and Gallery. The remainder of the 175,000 sq ft of space over 9 stories accommodates 39,000 sq ft of laboratories, 10,000 sq ft of studios, 15,400 sq ft of classrooms and over 5,000 sq ft of student space.

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