Gallery: INHABITAT TOUR: NYC’s LEED Platinum Cooper Union Academy

41 Cooper Square, East Village, Gruzen Samton, LEED platinum, Morphosis, new york city, sustainable design, The Cooper Union, Thom Mayne

This year The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art opened a stunning new academic building in downtown Manhattan that boasts a bevy of green building strategies. Designed by Morphosis, the project replaces the existing Hewitt Academic Building and incorporates many of the demolished building materials. We recently had the opportunity to tour and photograph the new building for a first-hand look at this revolutionary project – read on for our exclusive report!

Named after its address at 41 Cooper Square in Manhattan’s East Village, the 9-story, 175,000 sf environmentally-responsible building was conceived by the Cooper Union as an innovative education center for art, architecture and engineering. The project was designed by Los Angeles–based architecture and research firm Morphosis under the direction of principal and founder, Thom Mayne and local associate architect Gruzen Samton.

The building consists of a standard glass and aluminum window wall that is concealed by a dynamic operable building skin made of perforated stainless steel panels. The screen actively works to control sunlight diffusion by lowering the flow of heat radiation in summer months, and serving as a protective armor during winter months, reducing energy loss. Passerby on the street are able to get glimpses inside the building through the breaks in the facade, yet the most astounding views come from the interior spaces looking outward onto the streets of New York.

The building’s exterior program also plays a key role in shaping the interior spaces of the academic and laboratory building. Naturally lit by an abundance of interior windows (masked behind the screened facade), the interior spaces were developed to foster collaboration and dialogue between the three schools — art, architecture and engineering — that are housed within the building.

The interior spaces are designed around a full-height grand atrium with a 20-foot wide four-story linear central staircase encased in a curvaceous lattice that ascends from the ground floor up. Upper-level balconies allow views across and into the atrium, which provides a connective thread between the school, the building and the city beyond. Inside the new building, students are able to glimpse across Third Avenue to see the Cooper Union Foundation Building a short distance away. The building also features an exhibition gallery, auditorium, lounge, and multi-purpose and retail spaces that benefit from 75% daylighting. The use of natural light helps reduce the need for artificial light, thus increasing energy savings.

Green roof gardens and terraces provide insulation to the interior spaces of the building while minimizing the “urban heat island” effect so prevalent in Manhattan. They also reduce the flow of storm water runoff and pollutants into city sewers.

Some other eco-friendly features present throughout the building include: radiant ceiling panels, a co-generation plant that transfers excessive heat into electrical energy, recycled and renewable finishes and materials, advanced air quality systems, bicycle storage and parking spaces for low-emission and clean air vehicles, high energy-related systems, and express elevators.

Built to LEED Gold standards, 41 Cooper Square was recently certified as the first LEED Platinum academic building in New York City.

+ Morphosis Architects


or your inhabitat account below


  1. June 26, 2010 at 11:51 am

    THAT UGLY!!!!!!!!!!!!!! maarhroom :p

  2. Betty Laehr December 30, 2009 at 7:28 pm

    I’m sorry, but, with all due respect, GIVE ME the grey stone building on the left any day. The grey stone building is beautifully rich and in one glance mirrors hundreds of years of human art, history and design and is done on a wonderfully human scale. In comparison, this Cooper Union bldg, for me, is very cold, reflects nothing of man and done on what feels like a cosmic scale. In fact raising it next to this beautiful grey stone building on the left seems………rude. :( Betty.

  3. cyana December 29, 2009 at 12:38 pm

    you should have used our pictures, they are, lets say…. more artsy :)

get the free Inhabitat newsletter

Submit this form
popular today
all time
most commented
more popular stories >
more popular stories >
more popular stories >
Federated Media Publishing - Home