Ada Louise Huxtable, graceful doyenne of architecture criticism, sizes up Thom Mayne's new Cooper Union building for the Wall Street Journal, and she's digging the Bowery's "dramatic new building, a stunning—some would say startling—addition to the 150-year-old institution..." But look beyond the flashy facade of our fifth best building of the decade and you'll find, Huxtable writes, "a surprisingly simple reinforced-concrete box with a standard window wall and a conventional plan." Conventional, of course, except for the most talked about set of steps since Times Square's Stairway to Nowhere. Yep, we've got another staircase superfan on our hands!
The stair commands one's immediate and total attention. Twenty feet wide, it is the building's organizing element and circulation spine, connecting the first four floors and continuing upward with bridges across the space and a narrower stair above as it ascends to the structure's full nine-story height. Like some wildly updated, indoor version of Rome's Spanish steps or a more rational and cheerful Piranesian invention, it is a knockout, an überstair for the 21st century.With all the stairs and running around, 41 Cooper Square is also shaping up to be the übergym for the 21st century. Feel the burn, little artists!
· State of the Cooper Union [WSJ]
· Cooper Union coverage [Curbed]