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Cooper Union Building - Essay Example

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The new building of Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, in Manhattan's East Village, is a brave and unique architectural achievement that cost $150 million and was designed by noted architect, Thom Mayne. …
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Cooper Union Building
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"Cooper Union Building"

Download file to see previous pages As the Cooper Union Centre is dedicated to the promotion of science and art, this innovative building stands for the basic values of the institute by blending scientific architectural design experiment with a creative vision for future building designs. Most of the building is lit by natural sunlight and the “green roof” of this building has won it LEED Gold rating. The design of the building attains a political overtone primarily through assimilating the spirit of Peter Cooper, the founder of the institution, who aimed at promoting free access to all, to the arts, whereas appreciation of art still at large remains an upper class vocation and privilege. It was Slavoj Zizek who took the idea of political unconscious delineated by Frederic Jameson based on the theory of Marxism, and developed it to make it a useful tool in evolving a critique of architecture. Zizek observed that “there is a coded message in an architectural formal play, and the message delivered by a building often functions as the “return of the repressed” of the official ideology.” ...
This essay begins its argument in the realization that architecture is not at all an, “autonomous art” but one that exists in relation with a “complex web of social and political concerns.”8 In this attempt to find the political connotations of architecture, one has to take into account, many streams of thought as evolved by social critics and philosophers like Adorno, Walter Benjamin, Georg Simmel, Roland Barthes and so on. For example, while comparing imaginative and functionalist architecture and its progression through history, Adorno has pointed for the need of a modern aesthetics that addresses both the ends of the spectrum.9 This has to be understood in the backdrop of a market oriented architectural ideology. If the history of architecture is traced from a political angle, it can be seen that the entry of an affluent bourgeoisie reflected in architecture as “decline in craftmanship, enduring mediocrity, and the swindle of mechanical reproduction.”10 This resulted in “unmitigated kitsch” and later in an attempt to overcome this and address modern realities of capitalism, “monstrous, schematically rigid skyscrapers (began to) project out of a raging sea lacquered tin.”11 Bloch had called this trend in architectural design as non-humanely and “rendered uniform in the domineering form of the glass box.”12 Marxian analysis of architecture has taken this discourse one step further and shown how cultural artifacts, including buildings, serve to reinforce the hegemony of “commodity capitalism.”13 Hale has went on to explain this concept further citing Walter Benjamin and said that: A new architecture had evolved in iron and glass, which eroded the distinction between inside and outside space. This perfectly suited the ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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