A mass found trapped in an architectural digestive system.

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    "Options on the table"

    Javier Arbona-Homar
    Nov 4, '11 12:32 PM EST

    Altering our scholarship policy will be only as a last resort, but in order to create a sustainable model, it has to be one of the options on the table — Jamshed Bharucha

    Further, you tell me how to run admissions to make sure that you get enough wealthy students in classes? Do you think it will look like Cooper Union looks now? Or more like any other school that rewards privilege over merit?slavin

    It seems like as good a time as any to ponder how it was that Cooper Union got to be Cooper Union, and how the accomplishments of its graduates reflect an admission policy that gave opportunity to talented students who otherwise would not have had it.

    Here is donor signage by Pentagram inside the new Cooper Union building. Seems now like a weird anti-monument:

    From the NYTimes article linked above, (emphasis added): Peter Cooper, a self-taught industrialist, inventor and social reformer, founded the college with the mission of making higher education available to all; it was among the first to admit blacks, women, students of any religion and those who could not pay, making it need-blind long before the term existed.

    The legacy of students and alumni, in fact, constitutes the reputation against which the school can now bank on if it is going to transform itself into an education commodity. It stands to wonder, then, what exactly the trustees have to offer. Indeed, what right or authority do they have to sell what is not really theirs to begin with, and instead belongs to the students, alumni, and society at large?

    He (Bharucha) plans to ask the board of trustees next week to approve creation of a task force to look into ways to solve the school’s persistent, and worsening, budget problems, and report back next spring. But didn't the trustees get the school into the shape it is in now? Who gets to actually decide what "options are on the table"? 

    Cooper Union Looks at Charging Tuition


    • SuperKing

      Now, would you take the debt generating and possibly the institution killing new building's architect, Morphosis, seriously when they / he make speeches about sustainability and given prizes left and right? People are building undeserved legacies everywhere with other people's future and resources of course. Somebody knows in what kind of a bed these people are all bunched up together all the way to Wall Street. Simply said is, "insincere people leading the blind."

      Here is an another white and unsustainable elephant. 

      Nov 4, 11 1:51 pm  · 

      >But didn't the trustees get the school into the shape it is in now? 


      Nov 4, 11 2:32 pm  · 

      applet, I agree with the sentiment of what you write. That said I can only imagine what it would have taken for an architectural firm to *resist* the opportunity that they were handed. I've been in the position of running a studio with mouths to feed and lights to keep lit, the choices one must confront in this regard are awful. 

      On the other hand, I think taking an opportunity like that does preclude taking a stand on sustainability. LEET standards don't account for the economic viability of the construction, and I consider that a problem with the principles with form the framework of LEET.

      But I think the big crux here is that such an opportunity was created, with no obvious incentive except ... what? glory? pride? graft? I remember wondering this when it first was being built, and I wonder it more frequently when I'm teaching inside that building now. The President (now gone) and trustees dug a hole. Morphosis just filled it, best they could.

      Morphosis engaged in an irresponsible endeavor, but at the receiving end of irresponsibility, which is -- after all -- where many many good people are sitting right now.

      Nov 4, 11 2:41 pm  · 

      What was the opportunity again? Being a tool for academic gentrification?

      I likewise agree with your sentiment of what you are saying about the resisting* but it is high time some know how take precedence over unsustainable opportunities. Often people talk about architecture's changing role, architects' role on things other than pure building design but it remains to be seen. Could Morphosis be more creative with the wow effect and deliver a building satisfies the LEET hard ons instead of offering his ass to them? 

      "Mouths to feed and lights to keep lit"  is like slaving, slavin. What do you see as an alternative to this vicious circle? 

      Do you think Mayne was duped to think CU operating costs wouldn't get hurt by the LEET?

      I don't know, you might know better since you are inside the facilities.

      Nov 4, 11 3:16 pm  · 

      (Can someone fill me in on what LEET means?)

      Interesting thoughts all around. But this debate about architects either plugging into the status quo (the privileged ones that get the plumb commissions), or finding other roles is one we need to overcome, I believe. I need to think more about how, but we need to overcome it. This is why:

      The idea is that you have "the 1%" (or whatever you want to call it) on one side—the client side—and architects on the other side—the service side. This is way too abstract. For starters, many architects actually benefit from insider knowledge of where to buy property, for example. Architects with enough capital or enough connections are able to benefit from being on the early side of planning decisions; even shaping master plans, or negotiating deals where they get a chunk of property. They are also on the benefitting side of working on non-profit sector projects (CU is an example) while making connections on the inside of boards of trustees. They have more than just an interest in simply delivering a product to the client. They have no incentive to speak against anything they perceive could be rotten.

      I can't accuse Thom Maybe specifically of any of this, because I don't know very little of the history behind the scenes, so I am speaking in general. But this is why I think we need to get rid of the idea that architecture is a "service" profession, or at least make that idea more complex. Architecture as a profession is, in many material and practical ways, an exercise in power and in social organization. Not that all architects get to such a level of influence—few do—but who has an incentive to analyze or call out something? Kudos to slavin for saying something.

      Nov 4, 11 4:08 pm  · 

      >But this is why I think we need to get rid of the idea that architecture is a "service" profession, or at least make that idea more complex. Architecture as a profession is, in many material and practical ways, an exercise in power and in social organization.

      Well said. I don't know the solution to that, but I think this is one way to at least make the consequences clear... the consequences in not having a solution to that. 



      Nov 4, 11 5:54 pm  · 

      I assume they are referring to the LEED building status. LEED: Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, more here

      The NAB was either the first or first academic building in the city to acquire LEED platinum status. I have no idea how much it actually reduces energy costs, but given the way we expend resources here it'll probably start paying off sooner than later (if they haven't already negated it by having the AC on through October).

      Nov 7, 11 11:26 am  · 

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A bezoar is a mass of disparate pieces and materials. For this blog, you will find something somewhere between tweet-length posts and tumblelogging; inchoate thoughts; provocations and assorted scraps that don't fit anyplace else; criticisms of a political and geographic variety; ecoaffective ramblings; spatial imaginaries that don't conform. On Twitter: @AlJavieera; 1/3rd of @Demilit; bookmarked content: @AJFavorite.

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