April 14, 2015

New York – Cooper Square 41 – 2

The main feature of the building internally is the central atrium:




The colour palate is essentially limited to white, with an occasional violent splash of orange hidden in the stairwells.  But it’s not monotonous: light, natural and artificial, is used to accentuate the complexity of form created by a constantly shifting gridded frame that rises through the core of the structure, something made possible, I presume, by the computer as an essential tool of architecture.

And then there are the stairs – four or five flights of them in one long cascade:




It’s a fine idea to highlight the stairs as the dominant mode of circulation, rather than assuming the elevator will be everyone’s first choice.  But these are intimidating! It may be an optical illusion, but the rise on these steps seems to push the limit of what the bylaws allow.  Certainly not something you would want to fall on.

And in truth, we didn’t see many people using them.  If there were sufficiently large enough landings and an open lobby, they might encourage students to use the stairs as bleachers, but the floorplates are too small – or the stairs take too much space.  And the upper floors beyond are not intuitively connected to these stairs with their own.  Until you know the building, it feels disconnected and full of leftover spaces that don’t quite work.

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