Cooper Union Dormitory

The 90s was not a good decade for signature architecture in New York. There were innovative interiors projects, but the skyline of the city was left largely untouched by the new architectural movements emerging from Europe, or by projects coming off the drawing boards of world class architects located in New York itself. The post-modernism of the 80s--perhaps regrettably--created statements. There were few in the last decade of the 20th Century.

An exception to the mediocrity of the 90s is a smallish skyscraper built by Cooper Union, the art, architecture, and engineering school located in the East Village of Manhattan.
Designed by Rolf Ohlhausen of Ohlhausen Dubois to house students in the rapidly gentrifying neighborhood, the building is a clean, sober, exercise in modernism. Though far taller than its surrounding structures--thanks to discrepancies in New York zoning--it addresses a difficult site with strong geometric gestures. Splitting itself into two distinct facades, it reaches down to the sidewalk in an urbane fashion. An independent neighborhood bookstore happily inhabits the storefront along Stuyvesant Place.

Ohlhausen Dubois also did the restoration of the Tishman Auditorium at The New School, designed Joseph Urban.