The NAB presents itself as a multitude of different concepts for students, faculty, alumni, and New Yorkers. To some, it is a beautiful architectural achievement which is comparable to the innovation of the Cooper Union Foundation building across the street. To others, the building brings some frustration with functionality and accommodating to new environments. However, with either perspective, the building will eventually become the homes of the students and an icon in Manhattan. It will grow and finally mix the art, architecture, and engineering schools – if not to study in the same space and interchange ideas, then to socialize and enjoy the city location and eccentric personalities. We’ll all have criticisms, but it really is a change of scenery that didn’t epic fail as many early skeptics thought it would. Everyone from within started with a bad taste in their mouth for the lack of feedback and transparency in the process. For me, being proved wrong in my pessimism makes me slightly optimistic. The dust will settle and the schedules will be more organized with time.
As a recent Cooper graduate walking around the New Academic Building, I felt this strange feeling of being extremely old. It wasn’t that the building looks like an Apple store with less curved edges, but rather the fact that I no longer felt connected to Cooper the same way I was just a few months ago. The Wollman Lounge in the old engineering building really helped everyone mingle and relax, but now it’s just a little disconnected. Walking through the glowing building with the floating staircases and very stylish designs along the walls makes it feel like a futuristic museum that was built to help guide the tourists through the whole building without missing any exhibitions. Although I would love to see this building as a museum, it’s a school and I think the idea of functionality wasn’t the main focus of the design. It was quite a challenging project for any architect with high expectations, high demands, and annoying air space restrictions, so I do applaud Thom Mayne for a wonderful achievement. It’s been a headache for everyone involved to complete on schedule, but I’m sure the small complaints will subside and our familiarity will welcome the new additions.
In the architect’s defense, many people loathe big changes so there will always be nit-picky jabs of criticism. It’s probably because we just get used to our own little hacky fixes – it makes everything more personal when you know all the back doors, little secrets, and interesting stories behind the history of the building. Hopefully this building grows similarly with Cooper history and will tell its own story in the future. To all the best.
~ See Lemons Content