The other night, I happened to watch an episode of Ugly Betty, which involved the reprogramming of her boss, Daniel Meade, from the evils of a cult called the Community of the Phoenix. The innocent humor of the Ugly Betty show is a relaxing way for me to wind down from a busy day, and this was no exception. But I was forced to full alert when I saw that the cult called Community of the Phoenix occupied the Morphosis-design 41 Cooper Square, the new academic building at Cooper Union’s Manhattan campus! Not only that, but the signage on the entrance outside (which in reality says “The Cooper Union”) had been changed (or perhaps Photoshopped?) to say “The Community of the Phoenix.”
And there was Betty, chasing her employer and the members of the cult who sought to program him, up the monumental staircase that leads up from the atrium towards the skylight on the roof, like an ascension to heaven! And there it was--the curving lattice-work on the stair and then I knew, as Betty traipsed up the stairs chasing Daniel in the hopes of saving him from fantasies of joining with his loved one through drug-induced hallucinations, that they were truly shooting the Ugly Betty show inside the building.
Well, this made my night, needless to say. The audacity of using such wildly modern and daring architecture to substantiate the visions of a made-up cult on the Ugly Betty show was just too hilarious. If you’d like to see more of the building, read the cover story in Architecture Record, November issue, page 96 or check the web site, ArchitecturalRecord.com. Thom Mayne be forewarned!