Cooper Union Academic Building at 41 Cooper Square

Cooper Union's 175,000-square-foot, $111.6 million addition, known simply by its street address, 41 Cooper Square, covers the full block on Third Avenue from East 6th to East 7th in downtown Manhattan, bordering the East Village. Designed by Morphosis and engineered and installed by Zahner, the building's futuristic facade is strikingly different and unlike anything else around it.

The Building Envelope Design

From afar, small windows appear to be scattered across the building's surface.  Drawing nearer, it becomes clear that these windows are actually sheets of stainless steel. These perforated sheets, surfaced in a mechanically-applied Angel Hair finish, encompass the entire facade and offer a sustainable, energy saving solution.

By controlling sunlight penetration during warm weather and acting as an insulating barrier in cold weather, the skin system promises a 50% reduction in heat load.

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Cooper Union New Academic Building in Manhattan.
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Timelapse of 41 Cooper Square in New York.
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Fabricators at Zahner assemble the Cooper Union facade in Kansas City.

Design Assist for 41 Cooper Square

Morphosis Architects invited Zahner to join the project team early on in a Design Assist process. Zahner collaborated with the team to provide engineering-design and manufacturing for the building facade. 

Many Zahner-manufactured projects begin in the Design Assist phase. Architects provide a general model or conceptual drawings, collaborating with Zahner engineers to define details. The goal of the process is to achieve efficient manufacturing, within a budget, while remaining true to the original vision.

As the project moved into the production phase, parts were engineered, drafted, and fabricated as pre-assembled metal panels for quick installation. The completed panel assemblies were shipped to New York City where local installers completed construction.

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Panels prepared for shipment to New York from Kansas City.
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Cooper Union New Academic Building signage at Zahner shop.
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Detail of the Cooper Union New Academic Building signage.
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Interior vertical piazza of the Cooper Union New Academic Building.
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Basic structure beneath the Cooper Union's facade during construction.
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Section of Cooper Union panel.
Cooper union panel perforations
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Detail photograph of the less perforated rectangular sections.
Operable windows at Cooper Union New Academic Building.
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Example actuator for the operable window units.