Thom Mayne’s new academic building for Cooper Union, 41 Cooper Square, is the Pritzker Prize winning architect’s first building in New York. Sensual, jarring and willfully strange, it’s unlike anything else in the city. New Yorkers won’t find a meaningful introduction to Mayne or his building anywhere in the popular press.
Fifteen years ago, a Progressive Architecture editorial by Thomas Fisher titled “A House Divided” lamented the state of writing about architecture. Fisher saw a choice between “unquestioning description” by architectural journalists and “obscure, jargon-filled analysis” by academic critics. “What is rare, on either side,” Fisher wrote, “are critics who can address the underlying ideas and larger meanings of architecture and who can convey them clearly and concisely to the public and the profession.” What’s been written so far about Thom Mayne’s new academic building for Cooper Union shows how true this remains. (more…)