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Cooper Union Foundation

Cooper Union Foundation (62)

This magnificent building was built in 1859 to establish a new model of education, as the magnate Peter Cooper firmly believed that education of the highest quality should be "free like water" in his own words, and be available to those that deserve it, regardless of race, religion, gender or social class. And they have been coming here since. Among others, Thomas Edison himself studied here.

The headquarters of the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, better known as the Cooper Union School, is in this 8-storey Italian-style building, also known for being the first to use railroad rails for construction, fused in factories by Peter Cooper himself, of course. And this great man was an industrialist, inventor and philanthropist who even became a candidate for president and, among other things, in 1830 came to design and build the first steam locomotive in the United States.

An historically significant fact you should know is that the Great Hall of the building is where Abraham Lincoln gave his famous and decisive speech "Right Makes Might" in 1860, shortly before winning the presidency. So since then it has been a landmark chosen by presidents for special occasions and important speeches, from Theodore Roosevelt to Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, as well as for conferences of great interest offered by the likes of Salman Rushdie, Michael Bloomberg or Hugo Chavez.

Having admired this building, we recommend moving on to the leafy square you have in front of you and taking a look behind the monument erected here in honour of Peter Cooper, direct your gaze to your left to see the new Foundation building opened in May 2009. You will quickly recognise its bright metal concave façade. It is spectacular. It is at number 41 of Cooper Square and it is the Cooper Union New Academic Building.

It is a respectable building with an environment that fascinates everyone. It was designed by Thom Mayne of the Californian firm Morphosis, Pritzker winner in 2005, and associate architect Gruzen Samton. Its structure of a vertical square around a large atrium that runs throughout the building is spectacular, crossed by walkways that connect the rooms intelligently. In addition, it is projected to the outside through an opening that reveals the original building of the Cooper Union.

On the other hand, the double skin of steel and glass allows the building to control sunlight and heat to minimise energy consumption and reduce solar radiation and other factors thanks to the movable panels on the move of its façade. How could it be otherwise, it is a work of art, engineering and exceptional architecture?

Now you know, if you have a brilliant curriculum in one of these disciplines, this may be the place to develop your future. Note that today the Cooper Union is one of the most prestigious colleges in the United States. And yes, it is free.

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