morphosis architects: thom mayne speaks in sydney
morphosis architects: thom mayne speaks in sydney
jan 03, 2011

morphosis architects: thom mayne speaks in sydney

morphosis architects: thom mayne speaks in sydney portrait © designboom




following the overwhelming success of recent national architecture conferences, and in particular the positive response to the international keynote speakers who appear at the events, the australian institute of architects has developed an international speaker series. the series will bring exceptional and inspiring architects from abroad to australia for talks in some of australia’s major cities. on december 14, 2010, designboom attended the event featuring pritzker prize winning architect thom mayne.

morphosis architects: thom mayne speaks in sydney 41 cooper square, new york city all images courtesy morphosis architects




mayne founded his LA based firm morphosis back in 1972 (named after the greek term, morphosis, meaning to form or be in formation) and since then has received 25 progressive architecture awards and over 100 american institute of architects (AIA) awards.

morphosis architects: thom mayne speaks in sydney street view of  41 cooper square




morphosis received the 2010 highest honor, at the AIA LA design awards’ for best in show for their project 41 cooper square in new york city for excellence in architectural design. 41 cooper square, the new academic building for the cooper union, aspires to manifest the character, culture and vibrancy of both the 150 year-old institution and of the city in which it was founded. the institution remains committed to peter cooper’s radically optimistic intention to provide an education ‘as free as water and air’ and has subsequently grown to become a renowned intellectual and cultural center for the city of new york.

morphosis architects: thom mayne speaks in sydney entrance to the building

morphosis architects: thom mayne speaks in sydney the skin of the building operates on its own – constantly moving




internally, the building is conceived as a vehicle to foster collaboration and cross-disciplinary dialogue among the college’s three schools, previously housed in separate buildings. a vertical piazza – the central space for informal social, intellectual and creative exchange – forms the heart of the new academic building. an undulating lattice envelopes a 20-foot wide grand stair which ascends four stories from the ground level through the sky-lit central atrium, which itself reaches to the full height of the building. this vertical piazza is the social heart of the building, providing a place for impromptu and planned meetings, student gatherings, lectures, and for the intellectual debate that defines the academic environment.

morphosis architects: thom mayne speaks in sydney the terrace garden

morphosis architects: thom mayne speaks in sydney the grand staircase




from the double-high entry lobby, the grand stair ascends four stories to terminate in a glazed double-high student lounge overlooking the city. on the fifth through ninth floors, sky lobbies and meeting places – including a student lounge, seminar rooms, lockers, and seating areas overlooking the cityscape – are organized around the central atrium. sky bridges span the atrium to create connections between these informal spaces. further reinforcement of the strategy to create a vibrant intellectual space is provided by the ‘skip-stop’ circulation strategy which allows for both increased physical activity and for more impromptu meeting opportunities. the primary skip-stop elevators, which make stops at the first, fifth and eighth floors, encourage occupants to use the grand stairs and sky bridges. secondary elevators stop at each floor, both for ADA compliance and for the practical tasks of moving materials, artworks, and equipment.

morphosis architects: thom mayne speaks in sydney looking up – the staircase




in the spirit of the institution’s dedication to free, open and accessible education, the building itself is symbolically open to the city. visual transparencies and accessible public spaces connect the institution to the physical, social and cultural fabric of its urban context. at street level, the transparent facade invites the neighborhood to observe and to take part in the intensity of activity contained within. many of the public functions – an exhibition gallery, board room and a two-hundred -seat auditorium – are easily accessible one level below grade.

morphosis architects: thom mayne speaks in sydney stairs become a major social space




the building reverberates with light, shadow and transparency via a high performance exterior double skin whose semi-transparent layer of perforated stainless steel wraps the building’s glazed envelope to provide critical interior environmental control, while also allowing for transparencies to reveal the creative activity occurring within. responding to its urban context, the sculpted facade establishes a distinctive identity for cooper square. the building’s corner entry lifts up to draw people into the lobby in a deferential gesture towards the institution’s historic foundation building. the façade registers the iconic, curving profile of the central atrium as a glazed figure that appears to be carved out of the third avenue façade, connecting the creative and social heart of the building to the street.

morphosis architects: thom mayne speaks in sydney initial sketch of the building

morphosis architects: thom mayne speaks in sydney the cut in the building – which connects all 12 floors

morphosis architects: thom mayne speaks in sydney model of the cut in the buildings’ facade

morphosis architects: thom mayne speaks in sydney model of the interior of the building

  • i was in Perth few days later for the date lecture of the OZ tour of TM. Very good lecture!

    OZ says:
  • Interesting design d;-)

    Jetwax says:

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