End of Year Exhibitions 2010-11

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2010-11 End of Year Exhibition

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This year’s exhibition is a perfect demonstration of a school that has emerged with its powerful tradition intact and renewed in order to face the conditions of the twenty-first century. Supported by vigorous studio courses in freehand drawing and descriptive geometry, the Architectonics studios explore visual and formal issues of projection and representation in the context of the actual studio while constructing ideal habitations at large scale, using all the resources of the Shop. The Design II studios tackled the complex questions of site, structure and program, in an brilliantly inventive three-dimensional transformation of the School’s own “Nine-Square” program followed by a semester of analysis investigating the programmatic and formal forces that shaped different scales of domestic space from the house to the chair. Design III, integrating design with the knowledge gained from building and environmental technologies and structures, has moved from the scale of habitat to that of the theater, studying increasingly complex ideas in the realm of a material poetics. The Design IV studios first returned to the scale of the detail, expanding out to the scale of the city, and then re-focused moving from the widest urban perspective to that of the single institution. The fifth year Thesis, exhibiting the most varied interests in many years, took on questions of the architectural environment from the global to the local with inventive intensity. In its second successful year, the new graduate Masters studio conducted design research into urban and natural landscapes, asking fundamental questions about the roles of technology, the media, natural resources, and social conditions in contemporary architectural culture. These studios do not exist alone. They stand at the center of a network of courses and experiences that introduce students to the special knowledges of the historical, social, anthropological, philosophical, aesthetic, technological and cultural disciplines that inform architecture and urban design.

Peter Cooper considered The Cooper Union student to already be a citizen of the world, and accordingly he instructed that “Instruction in the science and philosophy of a true republican government formed, as it should be, of the people and for the people” be “continually taught.” With this foundation, the professional education of an engineer, and an artist and an architect could begin. And with this education, Peter Cooper hoped that, as he wrote, “the students of this institution will do something to bear back the mighty torrent of evils now pressing on the world.” In every way, Peter Cooper’s ideal of public service is sustained by an architectural community forged at Cooper, entering a society now, more than ever, in need of the most creative solutions to its increasingly intractable problems.

–Anthony Vidler, Dean (2001-2013)


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  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.