newsletter link
mondo arc

41 Cooper Square, Cooper Union, New York City, USA

Issue 57 Oct / Nov 2010 : Commercial : Workplace


Illuminating this new $120 million, nine-story, ‘vertical campus’ for the prestigious Cooper Union was a rewarding challenge for Horton Lees Brogden Lighting Design.

Designed as a highly sustainable building, the 175,000 GSF structure that houses the schools of engineering, art and sciences has achieved a LEED Platinum rating. The architecture by world-renowned Morphosis is a powerful expression of art and engineering through dynamic forms that create spaces for human interaction at numerous scales, and within this framework rests a rigorous diagram of classrooms, offices and laboratories. Lighting responds directly in both sculptural and pragmatic ways.

As part of the overall project sustainable vision, façade illumination was forgone, minimising light pollution and allowing the building to express itself organically. During the day, the metal scrim softly reflects the daylight, while at night, strong architectural components read through as glowing elements. The shape-defining exterior metal skin also integrates thermal and daylighting functions, and the design team took full advantage of this to balance daylight with electric light in the working spaces. “Luminaires integrated with a chilled/heated radiant panel ceiling on the perimeter spaces automatically adjust based on the amount of available daylight, which serves as an integral source of illumination,” says HLB Senior Principal Teal Brogden.

The placement of luminaires and the module of the building structure were coordinated and tuned to support each other so that items from wall-mounted black boards to student artwork and bulletin boards were illuminated by the luminaires set within the building module and a consistent luminaire pattern is viewed from the exterior.

In support of the programmatic diagram of the building, with classrooms and laboratories along the East façade, and professors’ offices and suites along the West façade, an intentional yet subtle shift occurs in both the approach and the resulting internal/external effect. Offices are illuminated with wall mounted indirect fluorescent luminaires, creating a soft diffuse ambient light that is augmented by personalised task lighting. Classrooms and laboratories are illuminated with recessed direct luminaires that provide a higher overall ambient in support of the ever-changing needs within the spaces, and are protected from large equipment that is often relocated as projects evolve. Thus, when moving from West to East, as the program shifts from private offices to classrooms and laboratory, the building once again expresses itself to the bustling city beyond.

In the dynamic and sculptural public spaces where more casual but equally important creative interaction occurs, the lighting was purposefully randomised to break free of the highly structured approach elsewhere. As the heart of the building and centre of student activity and communal interaction, the atrium/grand stair differentiates itself with an intense luminosity. In this connective space with elevators that stop only at every third floor, students and faculty are encouraged to interact and exchange. Translucent, backlit fibreglass at the ‘skip stop’ bridges provide the primary illumination. Fluorescent luminaires integrated within the curling rail structure illuminate the fibreglass that wraps around one entire side as well as the bottom of each bridge. This creates a readily maintainable, yet compelling visual effect that celebrates the connectivity of the vertical campus and serves as a very effective way to light the stairs too!

At the heart of the campus and the base of the atrium lies the grand stair which ascends three levels eastward from the entry lobby at the ground floor to the student lounge at the top. The intricate geometry of this highly engaging space is carefully orchestrated to allow views into and out of what feels like an architectural vortex as the net of glass fibre reinforced gypsum swirls toward the skylight and luminous stairs above.
Lighting for this space was a particular challenge for the team and was accomplished with a carefully focused array of shielded filament metal halide lamps (AR111) directed towards the smooth surface of the atrium’s north wall. The reflected light fills the volume and indirectly illuminates both the stair below and the flowing net-like architectural surround – thus offering glare free viewing through the many portals created by the sophisticated architecture. Adjacent circulation corridors were purposefully kept relatively dark to enhance the juxtaposition of within verses without.

As noted above, both maintenance and budget were carefully considered, and the final design utilised five lamp types with almost 90% of installed lamps being T8 fluorescent. In addition, 75% of the building’s regularly occupied spaces are illuminated with daylight. The overall result is a dramatic mix of natural and electric lighting, ever-changing as visitors move through this complex spatial structure.

Project Details
41 Cooper Square, Cooper Union, New York City, USA
Client: The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art
Architect: Morphosis
Lighting Design: HLB Lighting Design
Photography: Eduard Hueber pictures supplied by Zumtobel; Iwan Baan picture supplied by HLB Lighting Design

Lighting Specified
Zumtobel Recessed Bivergence downlight fixture (1 and 2-lamp T8 - integrated within radiant heating/cooling panels)
Zumtobel Vivo adjustable accent light (modified for AR111 lamp)
Zumtobel Spheros Wall mounted indirect (T8)
Zumtobel RTX suspended louvered downlight (T8)
Zumtobel Spec-5 Recessed Compact Fluorescent downlight (32W Triple Tube)
Zumtobel Parstar Trackhead (PAR-38) and Track
Prudential PT8 surface mounted striplight (T8)
Delray Radar surface mounted downlight (32w Triple Tube)
Metalux Basix surface mounted striplight (T8)
Mark Architectural Lighting MPSR recessed perimeter wall washer (T8)


Related Articles


Follow us on…

Follow Mondo Arc Magazine on Twitter Follow Mondo Arc Magazine on Facebook Follow Mondo Arc Magazine on Linked In

mondo arc india

darc awards DWLF IALD PLDC LRO