Cooper Union Academic Building Helps Blur the Lines Between Art and Funtionality

Cooper Union Academic Building Helps Blur the Lines Between Art and Funtionality

Iconic Design On the Leading Edge of Creativity

 

Change is tough and sometimes controversial. When change has the prospect of deviating from the norm with a new artistic expression at the expense of losing some history, it can create some tension and anxiety about the outcome. This was not more evident than in the case of a new building for The Cooper Union in New York City. The 150-year old institution’s new academic building, named the the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, is proof that buildings themselves can represent functional art while inspiring creativity; a testament on which the school was founded on. Designed by Thom Mayne of the Los Angeles and New York firm Morphosis, the Cooper Union Science and Art building was conceived as a more radical design that many had not seen in New York up to that point; a bold architectural statement of genuine civic value. Its lively public spaces reaffirm that enlightenment comes from the free exchange of ideas, not just inward contemplation. Nicolai Ouroussoff, architectural critic of The New York Times, praised the building as being an “example of how to create powerful architecture that is not afraid to engage its urban surroundings.”

 

 

The building, originally known as the New Academic Building, stands on the site where the School of Art Abram Hewitt Building was previously located. Construction of the building began in 2006 and was completed in September 2009. It is a nine-story, 175,000-square-foot academic center that houses the Albert Nerken School of Engineering with additional spaces for the humanities, art, and architecture departments in the newest addition to Cooper Union’s campus at 41 Cooper Square. There is also an exhibition gallery and auditorium for public programs and retail space on the ground level.

 

The renovation project had a controversial start in the East Village neighborhood of Manhattan. The area around the site consists mostly of low to mid-rise buildings with small commercial businesses on ground level and residential spaces above. Mixed into the scene are various buildings belonging to New York University. The neighborhood was once the scene of early twentieth-century tenements and warehouses and an experimental art and cultural scene in the 1960s and 1970s. Recent projects, most of which are part of the Cooper Union expansion plan, have started to change the modest physical profile of the neighborhood to something much more progressive. Another integral piece of modern architecture introduced into this neighborhood, prior to the New Academic Building, is the Sculpture for Living building (aka Astor Place Tower), a high-rise luxury condo tower, designed by the former strachitect Gwathmey Siegel & Associates Architects at 26 Astor Place. The site is serviced by two subway lines and many bus routes, which makes it a desirable location for developers. The building does not shy away from this debate by trying to fade into the background.

 

 

Morphosis Architects invited Zahner to join the project team early on in a design assist process. Zahner collaborated with the team to provide engineering, design, and manufacturing for the metal screen building facade. Working very closely with The Cooper Union, Morphosis, and general contractor Sciame, W&W Glass, LLC was chosen as the facade installer for this complex project. W&W Glass was selected based upon their expertise on custom, intricate projects like this.

 

Seen from the old Cooper Union Foundation building across the street, the new building has a flexed, concave facade that is veiled in a glittering perforated metal screen like armor. It’s hard at first to get a grip on the building’s scale from the outside in the day until you see its interior glowing at night with many levels of transparency inside and out. A large vertical slot is cut out of the facade’s center, as if the building’s “armor” had been ripped open.

 

Courtesy of Arch Daily: http://www.archdaily.com/40471/the-cooper-union-for-the-advancement-of-science-and-art-morphosis-architects

 

W&W Glass decided to use a custom Moduline (Oldcastle) window wall system to marry up behind the customized-perforated metal panel scrim system. From afar, small windows appear to be scattered across the building’s surface. Drawing closer, it becomes clear that these windows are actually sheets of punched stainless steel with many building automated operable panel areas for ventilation. Perforated sheets, surfaced in a mechanically-applied “Angel Hair” finish, encompass the entire facade and offer a sustainable, energy saving solution. By controlling sunlight penetration during warm weather and acting as an insulating barrier in cold weather, the skin system promises a 50% reduction in heat load. The video below describes the architect’s vision and the building system functionality in depth.

 

 

Prior to Cooper Union’s expansion plan, the campus consisted of three academic buildings, one for each of the disciplines of art, architecture, and engineering, as well as a seventeen-story dormitory. There have recently been more changes to the campus with a new office tower, designed by Fumihiko Maki, that has replaced the former Cooper Union engineering building on 51 Astor place. Times they are a changin’.


W&W Glass LLC is a family owned business with a 70-year history in the metal and glass industry, one of the largest metal and glass companies in the New York metropolitan area and the largest supplier of structural glass systems in the country. We have over two decades of experience in the design and installation of various building enclosure systems, including stick-built curtain walls, pre-glazed unitized curtain walls, Pilkington Planar structural glass facades, and custom metal and glass enclosure systems. We install all of our work with our own dedicated union labor force. W&W is consistently the largest employer of glaziers in the NY metropolitan area.

 

Gates Hall: Creativity Fit for Any Mind… or Computer!

It isn’t a steel and glass homage to Fenway Park’s famous “Green Monster” in left field, even though it overlooks Cornell University’s Hoy Field baseball diamond.  That being said, every Cornell University “Big Red” fan on the four-level building’s south side gets a season-ticket view from their 160-square-foot offices.  Between games, first-year CIS Ph.D. students get the best view of all – northwestward across campus to a sunset-lit Cayuga Lake.

 

Welcome to Cornell University’s Gates Hall Computing and Information Science (CIS) Building, the home of cutting-edge computer technology.  It’s not a coincidence that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, who donated $25 Million for this latest campus addition, has their name on this building.  Since information sciences is a highly creative and innovative field, the University wanted a nontraditional design to inspire faculty and students alike.  Curved lines intersecting with linear angles and lots of glass and light were paramount – not just in the common, collaborative spaces but also in every office, lab, and teaching space.  It was critical that everyone who works in computer computation and graphics have bright, open spaces where ideas can flow.

 

Gates Hall

 

Photo Credit: www.ykkap.com

 

Morphosis’ design director and Pritzker Architecture Prize-winner, Thom Mayne, paid close attention to address the University’s needs.  Early in the design process, began in 2012, he promised CIS faculty and students a space “to capture and express the dynamic and transformative power of the discipline it houses.”  $42 million worth of construction later, general contractor Welliver (formerly Welliver McGuire Inc.) and a skilled cast of subcontractors, including one of the nation’s leading glazing contractors W&W Glass, completed the project in late 2014.

 

W&W Glass was part of the design-assist team to help optimize materials and details with the project team to make sure the University and architect got what they wanted within budget. W&W used Erie Architectural Products’ custom structurally-glazed, high-performance unitized curtain wall with outriggers connected directly into steel within the vertical aluminum mullions to support custom perforated metal panel systems supplied by Zahner. Upon closer inspection from inside, the panels function as more than just an exterior decorative screen.  While remaining very transparent, they still provide shading for occupants from the sun and also some foul ball protection due to the close proximity to the field.  This is just one of dozens of green design features that are expected to help the building earn a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) “Gold” rating.

 

Gates Hall

 

Photo Credit: www.azahner.com

 

The professionals at W&W Glass had to be just as creative and inventive as the future students and faculty.  The high-performance, structurally-glazed thermally-broken curtain wall system consisted of roughly 600 unitized frames and 35,000-square-feet of glass. The prefabricated unitized curtain wall system was erected first, with anchor plates and panel assemblies being installed onto the facade in the field afterwards. The main challenge with the system was in the design and coordination of connections and panel assemblies. Zahner and W&W worked very close with the architect to make sure the panels did not overlap and run into each other. Zahner did an excellent job of helping to rationalize the panel assemblies to reduce variations to a limited number of panel sizes with most modifications kept to stand-off lengths and angle of tilt on the panels.  Some other scope areas that posed challenges were the serpentine curved insulating glass eye-shaped entrance and the offset cylindrical interior digitally-printed structural glass wall. The curved entrance had to be laid out very carefully to accommodate the proper splay with patterned-shaped insulating glass units. The orange fritted laminated glass cylinder was four-sided silicone butt-glazed like other walls inside, but presented an engineering challenge for layout.  W&W used Rhino modeling software to help better understand the complex shapes that need to be fabricated. Since this was a Design-Assist project, W&W worked together very closely with the project team and vendors to try and resolve many conflicts up front before there were issues in the field. This was imperative to the success of the project.

 

“It’s our job to inspire students. Bill and Melinda Gates Hall is a real game-changer for Cornell’s Information Science Department,” said Haym Hirsh, Dean of the Faculty of Computing and Information Science.  “Being in one location will facilitate research collaboration – and expand and strengthen the educational experience that we provide our students.”  When people think about innovative, but functional architecture utilizing high-performance glazing systems, W&W Glass, LLC seems to shine through with custom design solutions.  W&W and Morphosis are teaming up again on their next Cornell University project at the new Cornell NYC Tech campus’ First Academic Building on Roosevelt Island. Stay tuned for more details in the future.

 

Gates Hall

 

W&W Glass LLC is a family owned business with a 70-year history in the metal and glass industry, one of the largest metal and glass companies in the New York metropolitan area and the largest supplier of structural glass systems in the country. We have over two decades of experience in the design and installation of various building enclosure systems, including stick-built curtain walls, pre-glazed unitized curtain walls, Pilkington Planar™ structural glass facades, and custom metal and glass enclosure systems. We install all of our work with our own dedicated union labor force. W&W is consistently the largest employer of glaziers in the NY metropolitan area.

Carthage College Straz Center Project Unveiling

 
A Pilkington Planar™ project was recently featured in the The Journal Times for the renovation of the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Natural and Social Sciences at Carthage College. The overall project features glass-walled classrooms and laboratories, as well as a two-story, glass-enclosed atrium for exhibits, planetarium shows, and presentations.
 
The atrium, consisting of Pilkington Planar™ light grey tinted, low-e coated insulating glass units, provides beautiful views of Lake Michigan. Many are hoping this new wing sparks inspiration for the students. “They’re hungry to learn and I think the space is responsible for that,” Jean Quashnock, professor of physics and astronomy said. Faculty and students are excited about the completion of the project, which they hope will “draw more science students to Carthage.” 
 
For more information about the Straz Center and the ribbon cutting, make sure to check out the full article.

 

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