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!
A rainy day couldn’t dampen the spirits of the fourth graders that we met playing hoops in the brightly lit gym of the East Harlem School. It looks to me that there are two geniuses behind this wonderful building: Peter Gluck, the acerbic and seasoned architect/builder and Ivan M. Hageman, co-founder and Head of School.
Gluck led the tour, but Ivan was ever-present—in the cafeteria leading an appreciation of the chef and servers, and in the reception area meeting with parents. He welcomed us into his office, which is perched at the east end of the building with a clear glass open view up 103rd Street to the Public School embedded in the nearby housing project. Jane Jacobs eyes on the street.
Longtime repertory company A Noise Within (ANW) will complete its move to Pasadena at the end of October. Formerly located inside an old Masonic Temple in Glendale, it now calls Edward Durell Stone’s midcentury modern Stuart Pharmaceutical Company home. The project was carried out by John Berry Architects, Robert J. Chattel, and DLR Group WWCOT. You might remember back in May when we showed you the project still under construction. ANW staffers have now started to move in and perform technical runs for their inaugural showing of Shakespeare’s The Twelfth Night.
Photographs by Andrew Moore
Queens Museum of Art
Flushing Meadows Corona Park
The Queens Museum of Art (QMA) presents the powerful photography of Andrew Moore from his three-month visit to Detroit from 2008 to 2009. Moore’s photographs are a tragic yet beautiful glimpse into the decline of a city that was once the twentieth century industrial heart of America. Michigan Central Station (above) stands empty, the organ screen at the United Artists Theater is crumbling, and bright green moss covers the floor of the former Ford Motor Company Headquarters. “Moore’s exquisitely realized visions of architecture overtaken by vegetation remind contemporary viewers that our own familiar culture is subject to the forces of entropy and the eternal strength of nature,” says a statement from QMA.
Building of the Day #18: 200 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY
Beautiful weather continues to make Archtober the best month ever to enjoy great architecture. Madison Square, where 200 Fifth Avenue is located, is a palimpsest of the northward expansion of commerce and civilization in Manhattan. A public space since 1686, it first became a park in 1847. With the construction of the Fifth Avenue Hotel, (Griffith Thomas with William Washburn Architects, 1859) on the site of the current 200 Fifth, the area became the social, cultural, and political hub of elite New York in the years after the Civil War—think Edith Wharton. And it has the monuments to prove it.
Hey, remember that time that stretch of the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland caught on fire? That wasn’t so great. Things have gotten better since then. We now have the Environmental Protection Agency, the Clean Water Act, Superfund and lots of other pollution control and remediation tools. Things have gotten better along the Cuyahoga too. One segment of the river remains persistently sick though, the one mile stetch, lined with steel bulkheads, that runs through to downtown. Planners are trying a new method to reintroduce a softer edge–with plants and the attendant microrganisms and fish–while preserving the areas still active industrial and shipping character: floating artificial islands. Read More
Last week, we took a trip around the block from the AN office to go to an open house at 55 Warren hosted by Legrand, the French systems management company. While we were impressed with all the gizmos and glitzy gadgets, it was OCV Architect’s clever renovation of the old cast-iron building that grabbed our attention.
When you see architects working feverishly into the night to arrange food cans into strange sculptures it can only mean one thing: CANstruction is back again! This year CANstruction LA took place at Westfield Culver City and featured creative designs from the likes of RTKL, HKS, Callison, and several other architecture and engineering firms. This year’s big winner was “Take a Bite out of Huger,” by RTKL, made of beans emerging from water waves to feast on tiny goldfish, but other fun designs included UFOs, abstract sculptures, and even food trucks. The event was organized by the Society for Design Administration, and all cans used go to the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank.
If you want to vote for the Peoples’ Choice award, go to Westfield Culver City’s Facebook page.
Walking the line. Watch artist Simon Faithfull travel both built and unbuilt environments along “the exact longitude of the Greenwich Meridian,” using a GPS device in his documentary project “0˚00 Navigation.” Above is an excerpt through London, but you can also watch the whole thing here. (h/t Polis.)
At the city gates. In this short article at the Sustainable Cities Collective, Chuck Wolfe muses over what a “city gate” would be in a modern city, contending that Google streetview is one form of a modern gate incarnation. Is a physical gate just an ornament of memories, or do we need the architectural drama only a physical threshold can provide?
Art heals blight. As Elizabeth Currid-Halkett notes in the NY Times, art as a revitalization tool works, but not always. It takes more than just cheap rent and abandoned factory lofts to cultivate the next Soho. Take the case of Red Hook’s art scene from the Brooklyn Daily Eagle: art, given its mercurial nature, may be best left alone, like the somewhat-isolated Brooklyn neighborhood.
A map for Captain Planet. SkyTruth, a nonprofit environmental monitoring group, recently launched a real-time, interactive alert system that digitally maps domestic pollution events, such as toxic spills and air & water pollution. More at the LA Times blog.