AACE Lab, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, New York, NY
The Art, Architecture, Construction, and Engineering (AACE) Lab is a digital fabrication workshop that offers a wide variety of digital fabrication tools for all current students at The Cooper Union. Located on the fourth floor of the Foundation Building, the Lab is adjacent to the existing wood and metal workshops and is connected to them by a double door that signifies Cooper’s ongoing commitment to craftsmanship and material knowledge using both manual and digital fabrication techniques.
The AACE Lab space is distinguished from the fourth-floor lobby by a large, custom glass wall that scribes diagonally through the existing grid of columns, which in turn frames the main entry. Within the lab, the equipment is organized around flexible perimeter stations, leaving the central area open so the space can be reconfigured to suit a variety of teaching and fabrication practices. To keep the central space untethered, radial steel shelves are cantilevered from the circular elevator shaft to support an array of 3D printers. Idiosyncratic hardware offer inspiration for digital fabrication design. Laser cutter debris is exhausted via custom steel funnel-ducts. The CNC router - the largest and loudest piece of equipment in the lab - is enclosed in a dedicated, acoustically isolated room that discretely includes all new infrastructure for electrical & data networks, compressed air, wet plumbing, particle exhaust, dust filtration, noise reduction and acoustics.
We sought to echo but not mimic John Hejduk’s transformative 1972-1975 design of the Foundation Building. The large glass wall references his ground floor arcade between Fourth Avenue and the Library, while the small frameless acoustic window echoes his portals on the seventh floor.
Client: The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art
Design Team: Kayt Brumder, Alice Colverd, Zhenia Dementyeva, Willem Smith-Clark, MGE Engineering (MEP), Severud (Structural)
Builder: MBI Group
Owner’s Representation: DBI Projects
Photographs: Paul Warchol