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|The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art|
Cooper Union Foundation Building
|Academic staff||56 full time|
|Location||Manhattan, New York City, NY|
|Colors||Maroon and Gold|
The Cooper Union
Manhattan, New York City
|NRHP Reference #||66000540|
|Added to NRHP||October 15, 1966|
|Designated NHL||July 4, 1961|
|Designated NYCL||March 15, 1966|
|The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art|
Cooper Union Foundation Building
|Academic staff||56 full time|
|Location||Manhattan, New York City, NY|
|Colors||Maroon and Gold|
The Cooper Union
Manhattan, New York City
|NRHP Reference #||66000540|
|Added to NRHP||October 15, 1966|
|Designated NHL||July 4, 1961|
|Designated NYCL||March 15, 1966|
The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, commonly referred to simply as Cooper Union, is a privately funded college located in Cooper Square in the East Village neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City. Inspired in 1830 when Peter Cooper learned about the government-supported École Polytechnique, Cooper Union was established in 1859. The school was built on a radical new model of American higher education based on founder Peter Cooper's fundamental belief that an education "equal to the best technology schools [then] established" should be accessible to those who qualify, independent of their race, religion, sex, wealth or social status, and should be "open and free to all". The Cooper Union previously granted each admitted student a full-tuition scholarship; as of April 23, 2013, due to financial concerns, that policy has been eliminated beginning with the class entering in the Fall of 2014, although every incoming student receives at the very least a fifty-percent merit scholarship.
The college is divided into three schools: the Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture, the School of Art, and the Albert Nerken School of Engineering. It offers undergraduate and master's degree programs exclusively in the fields of architecture, fine arts, and engineering. It is a member of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) and the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design (AICAD). Cooper is considered to be one of the most prestigious colleges in the United States, with all three of its member schools consistently ranked among the highest in the country. Dr. Jamshed Bharucha has succeeded George Campbell Jr. as the college's twelfth president.
Cooper Union was one of very few American institutions of higher learning to offer a full-tuition scholarship – valued at approximately $150,000 as of 2012 – to every admitted student. Cooper Union has historically been one of the most selective colleges in the United States, with an acceptance rate typically below 10%. Both the art and architecture schools have acceptance rates below 5%. Cooper Union experienced a 20% increase in applications for the 2008–2009 academic year, further lowering the acceptance rate. The school also experienced a 70% increase in early decision applications for the 2009–2010 academic year. As a result of its record low acceptance ratio for the fall-2010 incoming class, Cooper Union was named by Newsweek as the "#1 Most Desirable Small School" and "#7 Most Desirable School" overall.
The Cooper Union was founded in 1859  by American industrialist Peter Cooper, who was a prolific inventor, successful entrepreneur, and one of America's richest businessmen at the time. Cooper was a workingman's son who had less than a year of formal schooling, yet went on to become an industrialist and inventor; Cooper designed and built America's first steam railroad engine, and made a fortune with a glue factory and iron foundry. After achieving wealth, he turned his entrepreneurial skills to successful ventures in real estate, insurance and railroads. He was a principal investor and first president of the New York, Newfoundland & London Telegraph Co., which laid the first transatlantic telegraph cable, and once ran for President under the Greenback Party, becoming the oldest person ever nominated for the presidential election.
Cooper's dream was to give talented young people the one privilege he lacked: a good education from an institution which was "open and free to all." He also wished to make possible the development of talent that otherwise would have gone undiscovered.
To achieve these goals, Cooper designated the majority of his wealth, primarily in the form of real estate holdings, to the creation and funding of The Cooper Union, a tuition-free school with courses made freely available to any applicant, although at the institution's beginning, according to the New York Times in 1863, "Those only are supposed to pay anything who are abundantly able, or prefer to do so." Discrimination based on ethnicity, religion, or sex was expressly prohibited.
Originally intended to be named simply "the Union," the Cooper Union began with adult education in night classes on the subjects of applied sciences and architectural drawing, as well as day classes primarily intended for women on the subjects of photography, telegraphy, typewriting and shorthand in what was called the college's Female School of Design. The early institution also consisted of a free reading room open day and night, and a new four-year nighttime engineering college for men and a few women. A daytime engineering college was added in 1902 thanks to funds contributed by Andrew Carnegie Initial board members included Daniel F. Tiemann, John E. Parsons, Horace Greeley and William Cullen Bryant, and those who availed themselves of the institute's courses in its early days included Augustus Saint-Gaudens, Thomas Alva Edison and William Francis Deegan.
The Cooper Union's free classes – a landmark in American history and the prototype for what is now called continuing education – have evolved into three schools: the School of Art, the Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture and the Albert Nerken School of Engineering. Peter Cooper's dream of providing an education "equal to the best" has since become reality. Since 1859, the Cooper Union has educated thousands of artists, architects and engineers, many of them leaders in their fields.
The Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, was founded in 1897 as part of Cooper Union by Sarah, Eleanor, and Amy Hewitt, granddaughters of Peter Cooper.
Cooper Union's Foundation Building is an Italianate brownstone building designed by architect Fred A. Petersen, one of the founders of the American Institute of Architects. It was the first structure in New York City to feature rolled-iron I-beams for structural support; Peter Cooper himself invented and produced these beams. Petersen patented a fire resistant hollow brick tile he used in the building's construction. The building was the first in the world to be built with an elevator shaft, because Cooper, in 1853, was confident an elevator would soon be invented. The building was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1961, and a New York City Landmark in 1965.
On February 27, 1860, the school's Great Hall, located in the basement level of the Foundation Building, became the site of an historic address by Abraham Lincoln. Abraham Lincoln's dramatic speech opposed Stephen A. Douglas on the question of federal power to regulate and limit the spread of slavery to the federal territories and new States. Widely reported in the press and reprinted throughout the North in pamphlet form, the speech galvanized support for Lincoln and contributed to his gaining the Party's nomination for the Presidency. It is now referred to as the Cooper Union Address.
Since then, the Great Hall has served as a platform for historic addresses by American Presidents Grant, Cleveland, Taft, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, and Bill Clinton. Clinton spoke on May 12, 1993 about reducing the federal deficit and again on May 23, 2006, as the Keynote Speaker at The Cooper Union's 147th Commencement along with Anna Deavere Smith. He appeared a third time on April 23, 2007, along with Senator Edward Kennedy, Henry Kissinger, Norman Mailer, and others, at the memorial service for historian Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. Most recently, Barack Obama delivered an economic policy speech at Cooper Union's Great Hall on April 22, 2010.
In addition to addresses by political figures, the Great Hall hosts semi-annual meetings of the New York City Rent Control Board, as well as incidental organized protests and recreational events. It is the stage for Cooper Union's commencement ceremony as well as the annual student orientation meeting for incoming freshman students. Cooper Union's Great Hall was also the site of the school's inauguration, whose primary address was given by Mark Twain.
The Great Hall also continues to serve as an important metropolitan art space and has hosted lectures and performances by such key figures as Joseph Campbell, Steve Reich, Salman Rushdie, Ralph Nader, Hamza Yusuf, Richard Stallman, Rudolph Giuliani, Pema Chodron, Michael Bloomberg, Evo Morales, and Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez.
When not occupied by external or hosted events, the Great Hall is made accessible to students and faculty for large lectures and recreational activities, including the school's annual Culture Show. The Hall's audio/visual resources are operated by a student staff under faculty management, as part of Cooper Union's extensive work-study employment program, though some high-profile hosted events are operated by professional staff.
In late 2008, the Great Hall was closed to students and outside events for the first major renovation of the hall since 1978. This renovation and redecoration was overseen by Sam Anderson Architects, a firm created and led by Cooper Union School of Architecture alumni, while the Arup Acoustics company was responsible for analysis and renovation of the hall's acoustic profile, which included installation of modern sound diffusion paneling on the rear walls.
The audience seats, which had not been altered since a prior renovation in 1906, were replaced by modern seating designed to replicate the unique shape of the original furniture. In addition, the audio/visual and lighting systems of the Great Hall were updated to modern standards, including installation of ceiling-mounted digital projectors and intelligent lighting fixtures, to meet the increasing demands of hosted and student events. The hallway and lobby leading to the Great Hall were also redecorated during the renovation period, with additions featuring historical information and primary source documents relevant to the space.
The Cooper Union evolved over time into its current form, featuring schools in architecture, fine art, and engineering. At present, these three fields represent Cooper Union's degree programs (exclusively). The Faculty of Humanities and Social Studies provides classes and faculty to all three programs. Despite changes in the names and kinds of degrees offered, the degree-granting programs are still completely tuition-free.
In September 1992, Cooper Union opened its Student Residence Hall, located across 3rd Avenue from the Foundation Building, as the school's first-ever on-campus housing resource. This apartment-style dormitory provides living space for 178 students, or approximately one-fifth of the school's student population. In addition to resident assistants, the Residence Hall provides living spaces for incoming freshman students of all three schools. New first-year students are not required to live in the dormitory building, unlike housing policies of many other universities. Remaining space in the building, when available, is allocated to upper-class students based on individual housing needs.
Modern curricular changes include the consolidation of the School of Engineering's interdisciplinary engineering (IDE) major and BSE program, after faculty reviews of the two programs yielded votes of no confidence and concerns of limited support. In addition, the Engineering School curricula have been recently updated to allow for greater flexibility in scheduling and elective course selection.
A new classroom, laboratory, and studio facility designed by Thom Mayne of Morphosis Architecture with associate architect Gruzen Samton completed construction in Summer 2009, replacing the aging Hewitt Academic Building at 41 Cooper Square. In contrast to the Foundation Building, 41 Cooper Square is of modern, environmentally "green" design, housing nine above-ground floors and two basements. The structure features unconventional architectural features, including a full-height Grand Atrium, prevalent interior windows, a four-story linear central staircase, and upper-level skyways, which reflect the design intention of inspiring, socially interactive space for students and faculty. In addition, the building's design allows for up to 75% natural lighting, further reducing energy costs. Other "green" features in the design include servo-controlled external wall panels, which can be swiveled open or closed individually in order to regulate interior light and temperature, as well as motorized drapes on all exterior windows. In 2010, 41 Cooper Square became the first academic and laboratory structure in New York City to meet Platinum-level LEED standards for energy efficiency. The building was funded largely by alumni donations, materialized in nameplates and other textual recognition throughout the building.
Primarily designed to house The Cooper Union's School of Engineering and School of Art, the new building's first eight above-ground floors are populated by classrooms, small engineering laboratories, study lounges, art studio space, and faculty offices. The ninth, top floor is dedicated completely to School of Art studio and classroom space in addition to the art studio spaces located throughout the building. The lowest basement level consists almost completely of the school's large machine shops and design laboratories, as well as much of the HVAC and supply infrastructure. The building's first basement level houses primarily the Frederick P. Rose Auditorium, a 198-capacity lecture hall and event space designed as a smaller, more modern alternative to the Great Hall. In addition, the first basement's Menschel Conference Room provides a high-profile space for meetings and classes, and features a high-definition videoconferencing system linked to two other similar spaces in the upper floors of the building.
Connecting the first four floors of 41 Cooper Square is the linear Grand Staircase, which is used both for transportation and as a recreational space for students. Higher floors are connected by floating interior skyways, in addition to two standard corner staircases and three passenger elevators. At the peak of the Grand Staircase is the Ware & Drucker Student Lounge, which houses a small cafeteria service for students as well as a relaxed, naturally lit study location.
A substantial portion of the annual budget, which supports the full-tuition scholarships in addition to the school's costs, is generated through donations from alumni in both the public and the private sector. In addition, real estate has become a very important asset to the College and has drastically increased its endowment to over $600 million. The land under the Chrysler Building is owned by the endowment, and as of 2009, Cooper Union received $7 million per year from this parcel. Further, under a very unusual arrangement, New York City real-estate taxes assessed against the Chrysler lease, held by Tishman Speyer, are paid to Cooper Union, not the city. This arrangement would be voided if Cooper Union sold the real estate. In 2006, Tishman Speyer signed a deal with the school to pay rent that will escalate to $32.5 million in 2018, $41 million in 2028 and $55 million in 2038. Cooper Union investment committee member John Michaelson acknowledged to the Wall Street Journal that Tishman Speyer "would not have signed a generous agreement like that had it been approached in 2009."
Around October 29, 2011, rumors circulated that the school was in serious financial trouble. On October 31, a series of open forums were held with students, faculty, and alumni to address the crisis.
Current and past students voiced opposition to the plan on social networking sites and print publications. The president of the school, Jamshed Bharucha, indicated that depletion of the school's endowment required additional sources of funding. A possible tuition levy and more pointed solicitation of alumni donations and research grants were being considered to offset recent financial practices such as liquidating assets and spending heavily on 41 Cooper Square, a controversial new academic building. On April 24, 2012, the college announced approval from its Board of Trustees to attempt to establish a new tuition-based cross-disciplinary graduate program, expand its fee-based continuing education programs, and impose tuition on some students in its existing graduate programs, effective September 2013.
In December 2012, as a protest against the possibility of undergraduate tuition being charged, 11 students occupied a suite in the Foundation Building for a week. Solicitation of additional endowment to support the free tuition policy was complicated by the school's policy of granting full tuition scholarships to wealthy students. Charging high tuition was complicated by the school's lack of customary amenities offered by other high-tuition schools.
On April 23, 2013, the New York Times reported that the college had announced that it would end its free tuition policy for undergraduates, beginning in fall 2014. The administration maintained that they would continue to offer need-based tuition remission to incoming undergraduates on a sliding scale. On May 8, 2013, a group of students occupied president Jamshed Bharucha's office in protest over the end of the free tuition policy. The administration, board of trustees, and those members of the Cooper Union community who had been occupying the Office of the President since early May reached an agreement that ended the occupation on July 12.
The Cooper Union School of Engineering's enrollment includes about 550 students, and is the largest of the three schools by a significant margin. It is one of the most prestigious and selective engineering schools in the United States, consistently ranked within the top four undergraduate engineering programs among non-doctorate-awarding schools nationwide. The school offers ABET-accredited Bachelor of Engineering (B.E.) programs in chemical, civil, electrical, and mechanical engineering. In addition, Cooper Union offers an interdisciplinary engineering program, leading to a Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools-accredited Bachelor of Science in Engineering (B.S.E.) degree.
All School of Engineering departments maintain a focus on project-based learning and opportunities for extension through undergraduate research, in addition to training students in the science and mathematics fundamental to engineering practice. Because Cooper Union does not offer doctoral program, all of the institution's research is carried out by undergraduate and master's students in partnership with faculty and staff.
The School of Engineering's B.E. degrees are designed to prepare students for either direct industry employment or continued, graduate-level engineering education in their particular field. Students in the B.E. program may choose to proceed into a 5th-year Master of Engineering (M.E.) program, or even (in some cases) complete the requirements for both the B.E. and M.E. degrees within four years. In contrast, the interdisciplinary B.S.E. program is intended for those students interested in further education in the fields of medicine, business, and law (specifically patent law), and provides a curriculum with broader focus and emphasis on the application of engineering and science skills to other, related fields.
In addition to core and elective coursework, engineering students are required to take part in the "Cooper's Own No Nonsense Engineering Communication Training" (CONNECT) program, which provides workshops and lectures in technical writing, oral presentation, public relations, and other communication-related topics relevant to engineering practice in industry. Facilitators and teachers in the CONNECT program generally have backgrounds in theatre, business writing, journalism, or communication, rather than engineering and science, and therefore offer a broader gamut of communication-related skills than Cooper's core faculty. The program was introduced in 1994 by Professor Richard Stock, Ph.D of Cooper Union's Chemical Engineering department, and Dr. John Osborn, an instructor of drama at New York University, in response to practicing engineers' need for professional presentation skills as well as industry demands for employees capable of accurately and effectively communicating the details of their work to management and third parties.
Simon Ben Avi has recently retired as the Acting Dean of the Albert Nerken School of Engineering to join Hofstra University, succeeding Eleanor Baum, the former Dean. She was the first woman to be named as dean of an engineering college or university and is an Electrical Engineer. Dean Baum was recently named to the National Women's Hall of Fame
All bachelor's programs offered by the School of Engineering require a minimum of 135 credits for graduation, including completion of a core program of general engineering and science classes as well as a minimum of 24 credits in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences. Each department maintains additional degree requirements, including both core and elective courses within the relevant field.
The 55-credit core program, which is required of all engineering students (regardless of major), consists of 17 specific courses in the fields of Mathematics, Physical Science, and Humanities and Social Sciences, as well as two project-oriented courses in Engineering Design. The academic curriculum is designed such that all students are capable of completing this core curriculum by the end of their Sophomore year, though many students postpone required core courses until the third or fourth year in favor of additional electives.
In addition to the general curricular demands of each department, students in the Chemical, Civil, Mechanical, or Interdisciplinary Engineering programs may opt to obtain an academic minor in a specific discipline of their engineering field. In order to obtain a minor, a student must enroll in at least four additional 3-credit courses relevant to the area of specialization. Minors from the Humanities and Mathematics departments are available to all engineering students.
The Master of Engineering program offers an opportunity for Cooper Union undergraduate students to obtain a Master's degree in one of the four named engineering disciplines while conducting research at the school. Students in the Master's Program are teamed with a full-time professor in their department for the research and design project. The requirements for the Master's Degree are a 30-credit course of study, including a 12-credit major and a 12-credit minor. At least 6 credits of Master's Thesis study are also required. Candidates for this degree are also required to conduct an oral defense of their thesis which is organized by the department faculty. The Cooper Union hosts, on average, 20 Master's degree students per year. Master's students will have to pay tuition in the future.
Unlike many engineering schools, there is no option for "general studies" at the Cooper Union, even in the first year. All applicants must declare their major on application, enrolling themselves in a particular department (or the interdisciplinary B.S.E. program) before they arrive. Once at Cooper, switching majors within the Engineering school is permitted, but a cumulative GPA of 3.0 and faculty approval are required. Most department-specific courses do not begin until the latter half of the second year, and therefore switching majors before that point is very feasible from a curricular standpoint. However, given the intense and competitive nature of the first two years, maintaining the academic requirements for eligibility can be extremely difficult.
The chemical engineering curriculum and program structure is designed to provide students with thorough knowledge of energy and material balances, thermodynamics, and the physical and reactive characteristics of chemical structures, in order to facilitate creative design and analysis of chemical and nuclear systems. Major focus is given to understanding and quantification of the relevant safety, cost, and environmental impact of such systems. The Chemical Engineering curriculum includes a total of 53 credits in specific required courses (in addition to the 55-credit engineering core curriculum).
In addition to the Chemical Engineering major, students have the option to obtain one of four minors through the department: biomedical engineering, environmental engineering, applied chemical technology, or energy engineering.
Civil engineering is the oldest and smallest degree-granting engineering program at Cooper Union; roughly 25 students are admitted into the undergraduate program each year. In addition to the core curriculum, Civil Engineering students are required to take an additional 47 credits in specific CE courses. The Civil Engineering program focuses heavily on the topics of mechanics, materials science, and computer-aided design and analysis. These subjects are the foundation for civil engineering applications including structural/infrastructural, geotechnical, environmental, and transportation design. Students are also educated in the processes and analysis methods relevant to the development of new materials and structural systems.
Cooper Union's electrical engineering program, which enrolls about 30 new students per academic year, is consistently ranked among the top undergraduate programs in its field. Unlike other engineering departments at The Cooper Union, the Electrical Engineering program does not offer students the opportunity to pursue an academic minor, instead offering three curricular "tracks" which students may adopt. All students in the program are required to choose a specialization, and each has unique graduation requirements.
The computer engineering track is designed to develop skills in computer architecture, systems programming, data communication networks, and artificial intelligence. The Signals track focuses on DSP algorithms and their implementation in hardware and software, as well as electronic imaging/sensing technologies and communication systems. Finally, the Electronic Systems and Materials specialization bridges Electrical Engineering and Materials Science, including advanced integrated circuit design and the production of semiconductors and optical materials. All tracks also include a general electrical engineering curriculum, covering circuits, digital logic, control systems, signal processing, and computer programming.
In addition to being the largest of Cooper Union's engineering departments, the Mechanical Engineering program is also the broadest and most versatile; students study varied topics including thermodynamics, control engineering, mechanics, materials science, systems, and instrumentation, and may choose to pursue individually crafted specializations through elective coursework. Students are encouraged to customize their educational curriculum by replacing (with prior approval) core engineering curriculum courses with additional electives, whether within the Mechanical Engineering department or in a different field. Common specializations include Aerospace, Biomechanical, and Robotics Engineering.
The School of Engineering is also home to three other departments; chemistry, mathematics, and physics. In addition to providing required and elective courses in their respective subjects to students in all majors, the faculty of these departments provide engineering students with research and independent study opportunities. In addition, faculty from the Department of Chemistry direct master's degree students in fundamental and applied research projects in partnership with the Department of Chemical Engineering. The Chemistry and Mathematics departments are two of the original departments established in 1859 at the founding of the Cooper Union.
In February 2013, students applying Early Decision to the School of Art were notified that their applications were "deferred."  This is attributed by the President to the Board's unwillingness to accept the financial obligations of admitting another year of students, unless the School of Art Faculty can provide a plan that can assure such funding. The possibility that there will be no incoming 2013 students for the School of Art has not been formally communicated by Cooper Union to applicants.
Consisting of roughly 200 students and 70 faculty members, the Cooper Union School of Art draws on the creative energy of the East Village to produce some of the most distinguished artists in the world today. The school offers a 4-year program leading to a Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A) degree, which can be extended to 5 years with faculty approval. In addition, students may instead opt to receive a Certificate of Fine Arts degree, which can be completed in two years of study. As a member school of AICAD, School of Art students may participate in exchange programs with the other colleges in the Association, including California Institute of the Arts and Otis College of Art and Design.
The Cooper Union Art program is often referred to as "generalist" or "versatile" when compared to other Fine Arts colleges; incoming students do not choose an academic major within the Fine Arts field, but instead are permitted and encouraged to select courses from any of the School of Art's departments. This approach allows for a personalized curriculum which addresses each student's particular interests, regardless of variation or eclecticism. In addition, the program and curriculum place heavy emphasis on each student's creative and imaginative abilities, rather than technical precision in a specific medium, to develop the social awareness and critical analysis skills relevant to art in the contemporary world.
Notable alumni of the Cooper Union School of Art include Seymour Chwast, Ching Ho Cheng, Milton Glaser, Herb Lubalin, J. Abbott Miller, Lou Dorfsman, Ellen Lupton, Paul Carlos, Joel Peter Witkin, Tom Kluepfel, Stephen Doyle, Alexander Isley, Eva Hesse, Alex Katz and Hans Haacke.
Curator Saskia Bos was appointed Dean of the School of Art in 2005.
The Cooper Union has the lowest acceptance rate of any fine arts college in the United States. It also has a very high yield rate, with over 70% of accepted students choosing to attend. The School of Art chooses to accept, on average, 60 first-year and two transfer students each academic year. An early decision application is available; approximately 60% of accepted students are early decision applicants.
In addition to standard SAT and transcript requirements, the School of Art requires all applicants to complete a rigorous "hometest," which spans a four-week period and plays a primary role in the admissions decision process. This conceptually-focused assessment consists of six prompts addressed by applicants using visual pieces in any medium, as well as 10 short-answer writing prompts. In addition, first-year students are required to submit a portfolio consisting of 10–20 recent works which demonstrate the artist's creative and technical ability. The School of Art encourages all applicants to attend an open house prior to portfolio submission, wherein faculty members are available to offer suggestions and advice regarding portfolio compilation.
The School of Art's four-year B.F.A. curriculum consists primarily of elective studio and academic courses, which can be chosen by students to personalize their education and experience. In addition, a total of 39 credits in specific courses are required of all students. This core curriculum includes literature, social sciences, art history, and writing courses, in addition to "foundation" studio courses in color, drawing, and design. Foundation-level art courses are completed by all students within their first year at The Cooper Union, leaving the remaining three years completely open for elective studio courses which can be chosen from departments including sculpture, painting, video, photography, traditional and computer animation, graphic design, typography, printmaking, and new media. A total of 55 credits in elective studio courses are required for graduation, in addition to 12 credits of other electives.
Students in the Certificate of Fine Arts program must complete at least 27 credits in elective studio courses, in addition to a 24-credit subset of the core curriculum. This program is generally limited to an extremely small number of "special case" students for whom the B.F.A. program is deemed inappropriate or impossible. C.F.A. students may apply for transfer to the B.F.A. program after completing 42 total credits in the School of Art.
All graduating students are required to complete a final exhibition of their work, which can be installed in any of The Cooper Union's gallery spaces and remains publicly accessible for two to four days.
The Cooper Union School of Art's studio, workspace, gallery, and classroom spaces are located throughout the Foundation Building and 41 Cooper Square, and provide comprehensive resources for students working in any Fine Arts department.
Sophomore, Junior, and Senior Art students may apply for personal studio space in either the Foundation Building or 41 Cooper Square, which can be used for project storage as well as production space for media not requiring a specialized facility. Student studio spaces are generally divided areas or cubicles of larger rooms, with the central areas open for large-scale work. All resident students must agree to a "studio use contract" upon application, which designates liability and responsibility for damages and misuse of space.
All student workspaces feature sinks, electrical outlets, and space for hanging or mounting artwork. Immediately outside each studio room is a partitioned storage and disposal system for hazardous and flammable media and materials. Personal studio rooms in 41 Cooper Square are naturally lit and feature high ceilings and advanced multimedia capabilities; as a result, these spaces are generally reserved by Junior and Senior students taking courses in the building, who have priority in the selection process.
Occasionally, first-year Art students living a significant distance from the school's campus are granted shared studio spaces for storage. Because most freshman students choose to live in the Cooper Union Residence Hall immediately across the street, this exception is rarely justified.
Because each discipline of fine art requires specific equipment and conditions, the School of Art maintains 20 workrooms dedicated to the production of specific media, in both the Foundation Building and 41 Cooper Square.
Located in both public spaces and specialized rooms, Cooper Union's galleries provide space for installations and showcases by students, faculty, and guest artists. Popular gallery locations include the Great Hall lobby in the Foundation Building and newly opened 41 Cooper Gallery in 41 Cooper Square, which provides a three-story high space for large, three-dimensional exhibitions and works visible from both the building lobby and 7th street through large plate-glass windows.
In addition, numerous smaller exhibition spaces exist throughout both buildings on campus, providing space for student projects and individual artwork to be displayed. Larger spaces on the upper floors of the Foundation Building are used primarily for interdisciplinary exhibitions with the School of Architecture. For presentations of video and digital media, the Great Hall and 41 Cooper Square's Rose Auditorium are used. Exhibition resources including frames, stands, projectors, and mounting hardware are provided to students and faculty by the school's Buildings and Grounds department.
The Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture at The Cooper Union offers a five-year program leading to a Bachelor of Architecture degree. The school ranks among the top five architecture programs in the United States. The philosophical foundation of the school is committed to the complex symbiotic relationships of education, research, theory, and practice.
The five-year Design sequence is structured to integrate the elements of architecture: investigation of program, construction, structure, and form/space. The Design sequence is intended to generate effective, forceful and spirited architecture.
With over 8,000 square feet (740 m2) of studio space, each student has his or her own drafting and work area. The studio functions as a classroom in which instruction occurs, as a laboratory in which projects are conceived and developed, and as a base of operations. Classroom facilities include a lecture hall, seminar room, and ample presentation space. There is also a computer lab available for student use on the seventh floor.
The faculty includes many influential practicing architects and theorists (Diana Agrest, Diane Lewis, and Lebbeus Woods). Well-known graduates of the school include Shigeru Ban, Daniel Libeskind, Karen Bausman, Elizabeth Diller and Ricardo Scofidio.
The Master of Architecture II post-professional degree program was launched in 2009 to extend the vision and intellectual rigor of the undergraduate program and allow a further development of the school’s preeminent position in the education of architects. Concentrations in one or a combination of three areas are offered: theory, history and criticism of architecture, urban studies and technologies. Faculty directly engaged with the Master of Architecture II program (in studios and seminars) include Diana Agrest, Lydia Kallipoliti, David Turnbull, Anthony Vidler, Michael Young, Pablo Lorenzo-Eiroa, Tamar Zinguer, Guido Zuliani and others. Guest lecturers have included Lucia Allais, D. Graham Burnett, Kurt Forster, Ruben Gallo, Adam Maloof, Joan Ockman, Gyan Prakash and others.
The Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences provides the academic thread that binds the three schools into a tightly integrated whole. The Cooper Union is committed to the principle that an education in the liberal arts provides the ethical, social and humanistic framework crucial to personal development and professional excellence; thus, all students in the first two years take a core curriculum of required courses in the humanities and social sciences. These courses are not segregated by member school or academic major, and provide a formal opportunity for students in each of the three Schools to interact in an interdisciplinary environment. Students in the School of Art take an additional three-semester sequence in art history. During the third and fourth years, students have considerable latitude to explore the humanities and social sciences through elective courses. The Center for Writing works with all students throughout their time at The Cooper Union, providing both tutoring for Humanities courses and assistance with other writing-related tasks (such as technical documentation of research projects and the production of résumés.)
With fewer than 1,000 students, Alumni of the Cooper Union win a vastly disproportionate share of the nation's most prestigious awards. Recent awards include one Nobel Prize, a Pritzker Prize, ten Rome Prizes, 18 Guggenheim fellowships, three MacArthur fellowships, nine Chrysler Design awards, and three American Institute of Architects Thomas Jefferson Awards for Public Architecture. The school also boasts more than 23 Fulbright scholars since 2001, and ten National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships since 2004.
The Cooper Union Alumni Council presents three awards annually to notable alumni: the Augustus Saint Gaudens Award for professional achievement in art, the Gano Dunn Award for professional achievement in engineering, industry, or finance, and the John Q. Hejduk Award for architecture alumni who have made an outstanding contribution to the theory, teaching and/or practice of architecture. Other awards presented by the Alumni Council are the Alumnus of the Year and the Young Alumnus of the Year Awards.
Notable alumni of the Cooper Union include:
Poetry and spoken word
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Lincoln's Cooper Union speech: