Cooper Union in New York

The new university building for the Cooper Union unites three schools in a single location. Its striking external form is an expression of the innovative claims of this institution; internally, it is designed to promote an interdisciplinary dialogue between art, architecture and engineering. The sculptural facade plays with light, shade and transparency. Large areas of glazing are enclosed within an outer layer of perforated stainless-steel sheeting, which screens the spaces within against overheating yet still allows internal activities to shimmer through to the outside. A glazed incision in the facade creates a visual link between the external public realm and the central atrium and staircase, which wind their way up the building in the form of a “vertical piazza”. From the entrance area, a six-metre-wide staircase leads up four floors to a student lobby with a view over the city. Laid out around the atrium from the fifth to the ninth floors are “sky lobbies”, meeting and seminar rooms. Public areas are easily accessible in the basement. The main lifts stop only on certain floors in order to promote pedestrian circulation and chance encounters. To obtain a LEED gold certificate, an efficient heating/cooling system was incorporated with ceiling radiant panels and a combined heat-and-power plant.
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