Alexandra Lange | Essays

Small Wonder: 41 Cooper Square

My review of 41 Cooper Square, the new Cooper Union academic building by Morphosis, is now up on Design Observer. An excerpt regarding the public space at its base:

At the sidewalk 41 Cooper Square might as well be set in the middle of a parking lot in Mayne’s native L.A. I was thinking of the criss-crossing concrete legs as Breuer-esque (there are lots of big boxes lofted on diagonal columns in his campus buildings in University Heights) when another building, closer to Mayne’s home turf, popped into my head: Eliot Noyes’s 1964 IBM Aerospace Building in Los Angeles, now the Otis College of Art and Design. Almost a cube, clad in precast concrete panels punctuated with windows that suggest a punchcard, Noyes’s building lifted its symbolic screens off the ground on shifted diagonal legs and does sit in the middle of a sea of cars. Noyes’s building offered shaded space at the base, before the glass entrance, but in Mayne’s building, the space between concrete and glass is narrow and empty. A strip big enough for some sociability opens up on the south side, where a bookstore is scheduled to open. Maybe they will put out a few tables? In their loneliness the interstices of the legs are filling with bits of trash.

Posted in: Architecture

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