Classes Return to 51 Astor Place

POSTED ON: December 19, 2013

While the last Cooper Union class to be taught in 51 Astor Place was in the spring of 2009, when the building officially changed ownership, classroom space will once again become available in the new building thanks to an agreement with St. John’s University.  The full press release, from St. John's, is below.

St. John’s University has leased 71,000 square feet of space for its Manhattan campus at 51 Astor Place, the new 12-story, 400,000-square-foot Minskoff Equities office building that occupies the block between Third and Fourth avenues.

51 Astor Place

The new location will house St. John’s School of Risk Management, a key division of the university’s Peter J. Tobin College of Business and a global leader in risk and insurance education and training. The School of Risk Management contains the Kathryn & Shelby Cullom Davis Library, which comprises the world’s largest collection of risk and insurance literature, policies, and related documents, and serves as a center for study and research for students of risk management, insurance, and actuarial science around the world. The location will also be home to The Language Connection, St. John’s intensive English language institute, and to continuing professional education and other academic programs.

Minskoff Equities has a 99-year lease on the property, which is owned by The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art. Through a separate Memorandum of Understanding, St. John's will provide The Cooper Union with access during certain hours each weekday to two classrooms and satellite office space. In turn, The Cooper Union will provide St. John’s access for a select number of days each year to the historic Great Hall in the Foundation Building (7 East 7th Street).

“This location puts St. John’s in the heart of one of New York City’s most vibrant neighborhoods with unlimited student engagement opportunities and accessibility to a host of potential employers,” said St. John’s Executive Vice President, Chief Operating Officer and Treasurer Martha K. Hirst, who led the university’s in-house real estate team. She noted that a portion of the developed space was zoned for educational purposes. “We are extremely pleased to have collaborated with Minskoff Equities to reach an agreement that makes it possible for St. John’s to choose the perfect location where our students and faculty will thrive.”

St. John’s plans to open 51 Astor Place for the 2014 fall semester. The new site will replace the school’s Manhattan campus at 101 Murray Street in Tribeca, which the university sold for $223 million in July 2013.

Designed by Fumihiko Maki, 51 Astor Place features a black-and-white granite lobby anchored by a 14-foot-tall red rabbit sculpture by Jeff Koons, and a public plaza at Astor Place and Third Avenue. St. John’s will occupy the building’s first and second floors, and part of its concourse level, with a private entrance. The space will feature state-of-the-art classrooms and video-conferencing technology to bring off-site students and industry leaders from around the globe together in a virtual classroom to enhance the educational experience, as well a conference, faculty and student gathering spaces.

“The new location occupies a unique intersection of several top academic institutions that share one of the world’s greatest city campuses,” said Robert A. Mangione, Ed.D., Provost of St. John’s University. “St. John’s has been proud to call New York City home for more than 140 years and 51 Astor Place provides the perfect opportunity for the world-class academic programs we house at our Manhattan campus to continue to excel.”

“St. John’s University, its students and faculty are a welcome addition to the neighborhood,” said The Cooper Union President Jamshed Bharucha. “We look forward to exploring ideas and opportunities to work together as academic neighbors with many strengths and common interests.”

St. John’s will continue to operate at its current Manhattan location at 101 Murray Street through the 2013-14 academic year. The proceeds from the Murray Street building sale are being used to enhance the university’s academic offerings, improve facilities and augment the school’s endowment, which allows for a considerable increase in ongoing financial aid to St. John’s students.

Founded in 1859, The Cooper Union enrolls more than 900 students in its world-renowned architecture, art, and engineering degree programs. Established in 1870, St. John’s has about 21,000 students enrolled in its highly successful degree programs for liberal arts and sciences, education, business, pharmacy and health sciences, professional studies, and law at its Queens, Staten Island, Manhattan, and Oakdale campuses.

photo by Wade Zimmerman courtesy of Edward J. Minskoff Equities, Inc.
  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.