Cooper Union: A Prestigious College Full Of Beautiful Architecture

The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, more commonly known as Cooper Union, is a small, prestigious college in NYC. It’s made up of historical buildings and has one modern structure. The Foundation Building is a historical landmark that many presidents visited.

Essentials: Cooper Union

Essentials: Cooper Union

Cooper Union was established in 1859 because American philanthropist and industrialist Peter Cooper believed education should be available to anyone that qualifies, regardless of race, religion, and social status.

The college used to offer free courses to students, and today, it offers lots of scholarships for its four-year degrees. Each year, the college only enrolls 870 to 890 students. It’s divided into three schools: architecture, engineering, and fine arts.

It’s made of five main buildings: the Foundation Building, 41 Cooper Square, Administrative Offices, Residence Hall, and Stuyvesant Fish House. 41 Cooper Square is the newest building while the Foundation Building is the oldest.

The Foundation Building

The Foundation Building is the property’s oldest and most notable structure. It was built in 1858, and it was the world’s first building to be built with an elevator shaft because Cooper believed elevators would be invented soon. It was also NYC’s first structure to use rolled-iron I-beams for support.

In 1860, Abraham Lincoln made a famous speech known as the Cooper Union Address in the Great Hall of the Foundation Building. Several other presidents made addresses in the building, including Ulysses S. Grant, Grover Cleveland, William Howard Taft, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama. 

Some other well-known people who have visited the Great Hall include musicians Benny Carter and Billy Joel, scientists Thomas Huxley and Brian Greene, and authors Harriet Beecher Stowe and Salman Rushdie.

In 1961, the Foundation Building was declared a National Historic Landmark, and in 1965, it became a New York City Landmark.

Modern Architecture

Many of Cooper Union’s historic buildings are still in place, but there have been several modern additions throughout the years. In 1992, the Student Residence Hall opened, making it the school’s first on-campus housing. It has dorm spaces for 178 students. 

41 Cooper Square is the newest main building, and construction was finished in 2009. It has classrooms, studios, and laboratories. The exterior has lots of unusual curves and shapes to make it look modern. It was designed by American architect Thom Mayne.

Inside, 41 Cooper Square has some unique architectural choices, including a full-height Grand Atrium, a four-story central staircase, and upper-level skyways. The building’s design is environmentally-friendly with up to 75% natural lighting to reduce energy costs.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)FAQ

How Much is the Cooper Union Tuition?

Annual tuition for Cooper Union is $30,000 to $47,000. The college offers large amounts of financial aid, including half-tuition scholarships.

What is the Cooper Union Acceptance Rate?

Cooper Union has an acceptance rate of about 15%.

What is Cooper Union Located Near?

Cooper Union is only a few blocks away from New York University, which enrolls over 50,000 students per year.

Is Cooper Union Open to the Public?

You can see the outside of the buildings by walking around campus, but if you want to see the interior of the college buildings, you’ll need to schedule a tour.

What is the Most Popular Degree at Cooper Union?

The majority of Cooper Union students enroll in the School of Engineering. In 2021, 55% of students went for engineering, 29% for art, and 16% for architecture.


Cooper Union is a famous college that only a small group of students get into each year. Even if you’re not planning to attend, it’s a great location to visit because the Great Hall Cooper Union is a historical location that many presidents have spoken at.

If you walk around Cooper Union’s campus, make sure to admire the beautiful architecture of both the old and new structures.