Wednesday, November 19, 2008
I was a bit stunned when I took a walk down to Astor Place and Cooper Union yesterday. It is a far cry from what it used to be- a haven for young and disaffected skaters, stoners, and anarchists. The cube in Astor Place, for instance, hasn't the slightest hint of graffiti. The streets are unusually clean. And, between Related's "Sculpture For Living" on 8th and the Cooper Square Hotel there are only one or two beat up walk-ups to break up the recently sanitized area. While, it pains me to see such order in a city that I love for it's grit, at least one new building gives me hope, Thom Mayne's (Morphosis) new Cooper Union Building.
While it may be reminiscent of the Pompidou Museum in it's current state (perhaps it's that external staircase that hasn't been covered yet), the building is clearly non-conformist and creative. It seems to lash out against convention and order. It says that despite all the cleaning and polishing of the area, it still retains some funk, some attitude. My favorite detail, the gash-like rip of the skin of the building to expose an atrium-like feature is not yet apparent. This departure from the ordinary is something that I look forward to.