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The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art (commonly referred to simply as The Cooper Union or Cooper Union) is a privately-funded college in Downtown Manhattan, New York Citymarker. Cooper Union, founded in 1859, established a radical new model of American higher education. Its mission reflects Peter Cooper's fundamental belief that education of the highest quality should be as "free as air and water" and should be available to all who qualify, independent of race, religion, gender or social status. For 150 years, the College has admitted students based on merit alone and provided each with a full-tuition scholarship.

The Campus is located in the East Villagemarker, around Cooper Squaremarker and Astor Placemarker (Third Avenue & 6th-9th Streets). The school offers accredited degree programs in architecture, fine arts, and engineering and is a member of ABET and the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design (AICAD), a consortium of thirty-six leading art schools in the United States. Cooper is considered to be one of the most prestigious schools in the nation, with all of its member schools ranked among the highest in the country.

The Cooper Union is one of very few American institutions of higher learning to offer a full-tuition scholarship (valued at $130,000 as of 2008) to every admitted student. As a result, The Cooper Union is one of the most selective colleges in the United States, with an acceptance rate generally below 10% (although both the art and architecture schools have acceptance rates lower than 5%). The school experienced a 20% increase in applications for the 2008-2009 academic year, further lowering the acceptance ratio. Cooper Union also experienced a 70% increase in early decision applications for the 2009-2010 academic year.

Cooper Union's Financial Support

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 Buildingmarker, an Art Deco skyscraper, is owned by the endowment.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 sign a generous agreement like that had it been approached in 2009.

Founding and early history

The Cooper Union was founded in 1859 by Americanmarker industrialist Peter Cooper, who was a prolific inventor, a successful entrepreneur, and one of America's richest businessmen. Peter Cooper was a workingman's son who had less than a year of formal schooling, yet he went on to become an industrialist and an inventor; Cooper designed and built America's first steam railroad engine. Cooper made his fortune with a glue factory and an iron foundry. Later, he turned his entrepreneurial skills to successful ventures in real estate, insurance, railroads and telegraphy. He even once ran for President.

In the late 1850s, when Cooper was a principal investor and first president of the New York, Newfoundland & London Telegraph Co., the firm undertook one of the 19th century's monumental technical enterprises—laying the first Atlantic cable. Cooper also invented instant gelatin, with help from his wife, Sarah, who added fruit to what the world would come to know as Jell-O.

Peter Cooper's dream was to give talented young people the one privilege he lacked: a good education. He also wished to make possible the development of talent that otherwise would have gone undiscovered. To achieve these lofty goals, Cooper designated the majority of his wealth, primarily in real estate holdings, to the creation and funding of The Cooper Union, a zero-tuition school with courses made available to any applicant. Discrimination based on race, 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. Initial board members included Horace Greeley and William Cullen Bryant, and early alumni included Thomas 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 distinguished schools that make up The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art: 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.

Cooper Union's Foundation Building is an Italianate brownstone, and one of the first structures in New York City to feature rolled-iron I-beams for structural support; Peter Cooper himself produced these beams. The building was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1961.

The Great Hall

On February 27, 1860, the school's Great Hall, located in the basement level of the Foundation Building, became the site of a 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.

Cooper Union Great Hall Interior, circa 2005
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 March 27, 2008.

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, hosting lectures and performances by key figures such 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.

Renovated Great Hall entrance, with main hall partially visible through open doors.

2008-2009 Renovation

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.

Modern changes

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' degree programs (exclusively), though the schools of Mathematics and Humanities provide classes and faculty to all three programs. Despite changes, the education is still completely tuition-free.

In September of 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.

New Academic Building

A new classroom, laboratory, and studio facility designed by Thom Mayne of Morphosis Architecture and Gruzen Samton was completed in Summer 2009, replacing the aging Hewitt Academic Building at 41 Cooper Square. In contrast to the Foundation Building, the so-named "New Academic Building" 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. The New Academic Building is 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 (to a lesser degree) School of Art, the new building's first eight above-ground floors are populated by classrooms, small engineering laboratories, study lounges, and faculty offices. The ninth, top floor is dedicated completely to School of Art studio and classroom space, though other, smaller studio spaces are 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 300-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 the New Academic Building 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.

The Albert Nerken School of Engineering

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 three undergraduate engineering programs 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 accredited 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 a 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 Universitymarker, 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.

Eleanor Baum is Dean of the Albert Nerken School of Engineering. She is 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 School 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, 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, students are given the opportunity to validate or test out of several core classes by application of Advanced Placement (AP) credit, though course credit is only accepted if the student received a score of "4" or higher on the relevant AP exam, and does not count toward numerical credit requirements for graduation. Students who are able to skip core classes generally take elective or higher-level courses in their place, rather than simply reduce courseload.

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.

Master's Program
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. As with the undergraduate program, Master's students pay no tuition costs.

Departments & Majors

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.

Chemical Engineering

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.

The chair of the Cooper Union Department of Chemical Engineering is Professor Irving Brazinsky. Also working within the Chemical Engineering Department are Professors Richard Stock, Daniel Lepek, and O. Charles Okorafor. The Chemical Engineering Department works closely with the Chemistry Department, which includes Professors John Bové (Chair), Andrea Newmark, Ruben Savizky, and Robert Q. Topper. In addition, a rotating group of adjunct faculty occasionally teach lower-level courses in the department.

Civil 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.

Academic Minors available in the Civil Engineering department include "Structural and Geotechnical Engineering" and "Water Resources and Environmental Engineering".

The Civil Engineering Department's chair is Professor Jameel Ahmad. Other full-time faculty members include Professors Joseph Cataldo (Hydraulic Engineering), Vito Guido (Geotechnical Engineering), Cosmas Tzavelis (Structural Engineering), and Constantine Yapijakis (Environmental Engineering). The Civil Engineering program also employs seven adjunct faculty members.

Electrical Engineering

Cooper Union's Electrical Engineering program, which enrolls about 50 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.

The full-time Electrical Engineering faculty includes the following professors: department chair Fred L. Fontaine (signal processing, communications), Toby J. Cumberbatch (circuits and electronics, VLSI), Carl Sable (computer engineering, artificial intelligence), Hamid Ahmad (circuits, control systems), Kausik Chatterjee (electromagnetic theory, Random-Walk Algorithms), Associate Dean of Engineering Simon Ben-Avi, and Stuart Kirtman (embedded systems).

Mechanical Engineering

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, controls, 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. Mechanical Engineering students may receive a minor in these areas.

The current Department Chair, Professor Chih-Shing (Stan) Wei, has recently overseen a sizable expansion of the program, including the hiring of two new professors, Drs. Delagrammatikas and Gan (the latter having since been replaced by Dr. Baglione). The full-time roster of the department currently includes the following professors: Stan Wei (Biomechanics), Melody Baglione (Mechanics, Vibrations, Systems), George Delagrammatikas (Automotive Engineering), Adel Aly (Hydraulics and pneumatics), Perry Grossman (Aerospace Engineering), George Sidebotham (Materials Science), David M. Wootton (Biomechanics), and Eric Lima (MEMS, Materials). In addition, several important adjunct faculty serve in the Mechanical Engineering Department, including Dr. James Abbott, Director of the Acoustics Laboratory, and Mr. Robert Dell, Director of the Laboratory for Energy Reclamation and Innovation.

The School of Art

Consisting of roughly 200 students and 70 faculty members, the Cooper Union School of Art draws on the creative energy of the East Villagemarker 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 Artsmarker 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, Milton Glaser, Herb Lubalin, J. Abbott Miller, Lou Dorfsman, Ellen Lupton, Paul Carlos, Tom Kluepfel, Stephen Doyle, Alexander Isley, Eva Hesse, and Alex Katz, and Hans Haacke.

Curator Saskia Bos was appointed Dean of the School of Art in 2005.


The Cooper Union boasts the lowest acceptance rate of any fine arts college in the United States, and is considered to be one of the most desirable programs in its field, with over 70% of accepted students choosing to attend. The School of Art chooses to accept, on average, 60 first-year and 2 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 4-week period and plays a primary role in the admissions decision process. This conceptually-focused assessment consists of 6 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 New Academic Building, and provide comprehensive resources for students working in any Fine Arts department.

Student Workspaces

, Junior, and Senior Art students may apply for personal studio space in either the Foundation or New Academic Building, 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 the New Academic Building 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.

Studios, Shops, and Labs

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 New Academic Building.

  • The School of Art's two Computer Studios are state-of-the-art computing facilities in the New Academic Building which provide classroom and lab space for students and faculty to produce and present digital work. They feature 40 Xeon-based Mac Pro workstations for student use, along with professional grade scanning, imaging, and printing devices for archival, large-format printing, film production, video editing, and audio production. These studios are often used as classrooms for Graphic Design and Computer Animation courses. Additional production equipment including audio recording interfaces, digital cameras, and microphones are available for student rental through the interdisciplinary audio/visual department.

  • Several painting and drawing studios and classrooms are available within both buildings on campus, providing easels, palette stands, sawhorse tables, and mounting hardware for props and reference images. In addition, all painting studios include sinks and storage racks for projects and equipment. The Painting Office in the Foundation building provides additional materials and equipment for rent and sale. The Foundation Building painting studios and classrooms feature skylight, providing a naturally lit workspace environment, while the New Academic Building's studios provide a similar atmosphere with full-size windows on all external walls.

  • The photography department maintains one communal black-and-white and eight individual color darkrooms, containing enlargers and print processing equipment in addition to the chemical and paper media used for film photography. Each photography studio is staffed by student assistants who operate and maintain the equipment, in addition to providing rental services for film and digital SLR cameras. The Foundation Building photography workspace includes two- and three-dimensional sets, complete with photographic lighting resources, for film or digital imaging.

  • Printmaking resources and equipment are stored in a large, well-ventilated shop space on the 3rd floor of the Foundation Building. In addition to computer workspaces for digital design and production, the facility features lithography presses, silkscreen vacuum tables, and etching equipment, as well as paper mills and stones for paper-making and manual lithography.

  • Film and Video studios are located in the Foundation building and provide resources, equipment, and work space for film and digital video production, from pre-production to publication. Microphones, lighting kits, and tripods are freely available for student use and rental, in addition to Super8, 16mm, MiniDV, 24p, and HDV camcorders. Eight video-editing computer workstations are also available, and feature Final Cut Studio and Adobe Creative Suite editing software in addition to audio and video capture and trans-coding hardware. Scanners, rotoscopes, editing workstations, and other equipment used for the production of traditional, computer, and stop-motion animation are located in a second computer lab adjacent to the video and film studio.


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 the New Academic Building, 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 New Academic Building'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 School of Architecture

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 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, Ricardo scofidio and Toshiko Mori. The current dean is Anthony Vidler.

M. Arch II

The Cooper Union introduced the new, M.Arch II program for the 2008-2009 academic year. The program will be limited to a total of 8 students, and offer 3 concentrations: Theory, History, and Criticism of Architecture, Urban Studies, and Technologies.

Notable alumni

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 1 Nobel Prize, 10 Rome Prizes, 18 Guggenheim fellowships, 3 MacArthur fellowships, 9 Chrysler Design awards, and 3 American Institute of Architects Thomas Jefferson Awards for Public Architecture. The school also boasts more than 23 Fulbright scholars since 2001, and 10 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:

In Pop Culture


  2. America's Best Colleges 2008: LOWEST ACCEPTANCE RATES
  3. The Cooper Union Awards $33 million in Full Tuition Scholarships
  5. Smart Land Deals as a Cornerstone for Free Tuition
  7. One College Sidesteps the Crisis, Wall Street Journal, Money & Investing, June 30, 2009, p. c1; see p.c3
  8. The Cooper Union: History. Retrieved November 14, 2006
  9. One College Sidesteps the Crisis, Wall Street Journal, Money & Investing, June 30, 2009, p. c1
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  14. Rankings, U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved November 14, 2006
  18. National Women's Hall of Fame - News & Events
  19. Cooper Union School of Engineering: Degree Requirements
  38. Cooper Union Mechanical Engineering
  56. Cooper Union School of Art: Computer Studio
  59. The USA Best Architecture Schools 2007
  60. New MArch II at Cooper Union
  61. Cooper Union School of Architecture Application
  62. [2] [Alumni Fact Sheet (PDF)]
  63. Thomas Edison, Chemistry and Cooper Union. Retrieved October 16, 2006
  64. About the Cooper Union: History. Retrieved October 16, 2006
  65. Russell A. Hulse: The Nobel Prize in Physics 1993
  66. Boxer, Sarah. "Bob Kane, 83, the Cartoonist Who Created 'Batman,' Is Dead", The New York Times, November 7, 1998. Retrieved August 28, 2008.
  67. Whatever, The New York Times, capsule review

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