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The Cooper Union

The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, commonly referred to simply as Cooper Union or Cooper Institute, is a privately funded college located in Cooper Square in the East Village neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City.



30 Cooper Square
New York
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Mission Statement
Maroon And Gold

College History


The Cooper Union was founded in 1859 by American industrialist Peter Cooper, who was a prolific inventor, successful entrepreneur, and one of America's richest businessmen at the time. Cooper was a workingman's son who had less than a year of formal schooling, yet went on to become an industrialist and inventor; Cooper designed and built America's first steam railroad engine, and made a fortune with a glue factory and iron foundry. After achieving wealth, he turned his entrepreneurial skills to successful ventures in real estate, insurance and railroads. He was a principal investor and first president of the New York, Newfoundland & London Telegraph Co., which laid the first transatlantic telegraph cable, and once ran for President under the Greenback Party, becoming the oldest person ever nominated for the presidential election. The interior of the Great Hall c.2005 Cooper's dream was to give talented young people the one privilege he lacked: a good education from an institution which was "open and free to all." He also wished to make possible the development of talent that otherwise would have gone undiscovered. To achieve these goals, Cooper designated the majority of his wealth, primarily in the form of real estate holdings, to the creation and funding of The Cooper Union, a tuition-free school with courses made freely available to any applicant, although at the institution's beginning, according to the New York Times in 1863, "Those only are supposed to pay anything who are abundantly able, or prefer to do so." Discrimination based on ethnicity, religion, or sex was expressly prohibited. Originally intended to be named simply "the Union," the Cooper Union began with adult education in night classes on the subjects of applied sciences and architectural drawing, as well as day classes primarily intended for women on the subjects of photography, telegraphy, typewriting and shorthand in what was called the college's Female School of Design. The early institution also consisted of a free reading room open day and night, and a new four-year nighttime engineering college for men and a few women. A daytime engineering college was added in 1902 thanks to funds contributed by Andrew Carnegie Initial board members included Daniel F. Tiemann, John E. Parsons, Horace Greeley and William Cullen Bryant, and those who availed themselves of the institute's courses in its early days included Augustus Saint-Gaudens, Thomas Alva Edison and William Francis Deegan. The Cooper Union's free classes � a landmark in American history and the prototype for what is now called continuing education � have evolved into three schools: the School of Art, the Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture and the Albert Nerken School of Engineering. Peter Cooper's dream of providing an education "equal to the best" has since become reality. Since 1859, the Cooper Union has educated thousands of artists, architects and engineers, many of them leaders in their fields. After 1864 there were a few attempts to merge Cooper Union and Columbia University, but these were never realized. The Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, was founded in 1897 as part of Cooper Union by Sarah, Eleanor, and Amy Hewitt, granddaughters of Peter Cooper.

College Specialty


Through outstanding academic programs in architecture, art and engineering, and a Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art prepares talented students to make enlightened contributions to society.



John Alcorn, illustrator Stan Allen, former Dean of the School of Architecture, Princeton University Daniel Arsham, artist, with alumnus Alex Mustonen established Snarkitecture Alex Bag, video artist Shigeru Ban, pioneer of "Paper Architecture" Donald Baechler, painter Karen Bausman, Rome Prize recipient, the only American woman architect to hold both the Eliot Noyes (Harvard) and Eero Saarinen (Yale) chairs Dave Berg, cartoon artist and main contributor of Mad (magazine) illustrations Renata Bernal, painter Emile Berliner, invented the vinyl record Billy Bitzer, cinematographer Victor Gustav Bloede, chemist Louise Brann, muralist Steve Brodner, cartoonist Dik Browne, cartoonist and creator of Hagar the Horrible Norman Bridwell, cartoonist and creator of Clifford the Big Red Dog Albert Carnesale, former chancellor of UCLA and dean of the Kennedy School of Governmen at Harvard Martin Charnin, Tony Award-winning lyricist, writer, and theatre director Remy Charlip, choreographer, writer, and illustrator Seymour Chwast, graphic designer, co-founder of Push Pin Studios John Walter Christie, engineer and inventor Guy Coheleach, wildlife artist Miriam Cooper, actress Will Cotton, painter Joshua Lionel Cowen, inventor of the flash-lamp Amy Cutler, artist William Francis Deegan, architect and political leader, namesake of the Major Deegan Expressway Roy DeCarava, photographer Bruce Degen, illustrator for The Magic School Bus Elizabeth Diller, with Ricardo Scofidio, the first architects to win a MacArthur Prize co-founder of Diller Scofidio + Renfro Michael Doret, graphic designer, font designer, lettering artist Lou Dorfsman, graphic designer art director for CBS Eric Drooker, painter William Dubilier, inventor John M. Eargle, Oscar and Grammy-winning audio engineer and musician Thomas Edison, inventor Jeffrey Epstein, investor Mitch Epstein, photographer Joel H. Ferziger, authority in computational fluid dynamics Thom Fitzgerald, filmmaker Audrey Flack, pioneer of photorealism Max Fleischer, animator Robert Florczak, artist, illustrator, author, composer Laura Ford, sculptor Felix Frankfurter, former associate justice of the United States Supreme Court Janet Gardner, filmmaker Paul Garrin, filmmaker Milton Glaser, graphic designer, creator of the I Love New York logo, co-founder of Push Pin Studios Augustus Saint-Gaudens, bronze sculptor T.J. Gottesdiener, architect and manager of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill Dimitri Hadzi, sculptor William Harnett, painter Matthew Harrison, film director Sagi Haviv, partner, Chermayeff & Geismar; designer of the Library of Congress and Armani Exchange logos John Hejduk, one of New York Five a group of five New York City architects Eva Hesse, sculptor Chuck Hoberman, winner of the Chrysler Design Award for Innovation and Design. Kim Holleman, artist Russell Hulse, a 1993 winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics.0 Alexander Isley, graphic designer Patty Jenkins, filmmaker Sandy Jimenez, comic book artist Crockett Johnson, author of Harold and the Purple Crayon Bob Kane (1915�1998), comic book artist and writer, creator of Batman0 William King R.B. Kitaj, painter Lee Krasner, painter Kathleen Kucka, painter Morgan Foster Larson, Governor of New Jersey from 1929�1932.0 Daniel Libeskind, architect for the reconstruction of the World Trade Center Whitfield Lovell, artist Herb Lubalin, graphic designer, creative director for publications: Eros, Fact, and Avant Garde, designed designed a typeface ITC Avant Garde. Ellen Lupton, graphic designer, writer, curator and educator Noah Lyon, artist Jay Maisel, photographer Fred Marcellino, illustrator Christian Marclay artist, composer Sylvia Plimack Mangold Joseph Margulies, artist Abbott Miller, designer Mike Mills, filmmaker Matthew Monahan, sculptor A. Harry Moore, 39th Governor of New Jersey Jacqueline Moss, art historian, educator Michel Mossessian, architect Wangechi Mutu, artist Victor Nellenbogen, architect Albert Nerken, chemical engineer, industrialist and philanthropist0 Vera Neumann, artist known for colored linen patterns and scarves signed "Vera" by The Vera Company Victor Papanek, early proponent of ecologically and socially responsible design Bruce Pasternack, President and CEO of the Special Olympics William Gardner Pfann, known for his development of zone melting Ron Pompei, architect and founder of Pompei A.D. Charles E. Pont, painter, illustrator, printmaker, graphic designer Neal Pozner, artist and designer at DC Comics Reynold Ruffins, graphic designer, co-founder of Push Pin Studios Andrea Robbins and Max Becher, artists and educators Charles Rosen, engineer and pioneer in artificial intelligence in development of Shakey the Robot Augustus Saint-Gaudens, Beaux-Arts sculptor Erik Sanko, marionette-maker and leader of the rock band Skeleton Key Alfred Sarant, engineer and Soviet spy Edward Sargent, 19th century architect Richard Sarles, CEO and General Manager of Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority00 Domitilla Sartogo, owner, founding partner and executive director of DRAGO Media Kompany Augusta Savage, sculptor Arnold Alfred Schmidt, painter Sy Schulman, civil engineer and planner, Mayor of White Plains, New York (1993-1997)0 Ricardo Scofidio, with Elizabeth Diller, the first architects to win a MacArthur Prize co-founder of Diller Scofidio + Renfro Samuel R. Scottron, inventor, grandfather of entertainer Lena Horne Georgette Seabrooke, muralist, artist, art therapist and educator George Segal, pop art sculptor Redmond Simonsen, graphic artist and game designer at the wargame company Simulations Publications, Inc. Neal Slavin, photographer Zak Smith, artist Charles B.J. Snyder (1860�1945), chief architect and Superintendent of School Buildings, New York City Board of Education, 1891�1923 Edward Sorel, graphic designer, co-founder of Push Pin Studios Thaddeus Strassberger, opera director Eric E. Sumner, engineer and contributor to the early development of switching systems Philip Taaffe, painter TRUE, artist Hy Turkin, sportswriter and editor of the first baseball encyclopedia Stan Vanderbeek, animator Richard Velazquez, Honda and Porsche designer Allyson Vieira, artist Jovan Karlo Villalba, painter Louis Waldman, engineer and a founding member of the Social Democratic Federation Edward J. Wasp, engineer and pioneer of slurry pipelines Adolph Alexander Weinman, sculptor Tom Wesselmann, painter Jack Whitten, painter Jerome Witkin, painter Joel-Peter Witkin, fine art photographer Dan Witz, painter, street artist Tobi Wong, designer, artist