The Cooper Union
School of Architecture


The WaterBar project was developed as a playful architectural parody on the principal activities that take place in a bar including drinking, socializing, talking and making connections. The objective is to create a dynamically engaging connection between the interior and exterior space of the street and the upper and lower levels of the bar that provokes continuous interaction between people and space.

The existing site for which this project was conceived is a small storefront on Broome Street near West Broadway in Soho. The design makes the most of the fact that the first floor is about three feet above street level by recessing the first floor back from the façade allowing natural light and views into the restaurant space below grade. A waterfall connects the two floors and is clearly visible through the large glass facade. The bar on the main level is literally a clear glass bar filled with a river of flowing water. The glass bar-top cantilevers toward the street and over the opening to the floor below where the river exits the levitating end of the bar, becoming a waterfall that drops into a pool. People at the bar delight in the water flowing beneath their drinks, while those seated in the dining area downstairs see and hear the energy of the water falling from above.

People on the street are at eye level with the top of the waterfall and enter the bar via a glass stair that spans over the void and pool below. As people move up and down the stair they experience the falls from up close and at different elevations. The water is filtered and recirculated in a continuous loop between the main bar and the lower dining room. At the back of the lower level is a small highly efficient commercial kitchen where tapas and other small dishes are prepared.

In keeping with the natural materials of the existing space we have maintained the brick wall, exposed the wooden joists and extended the bar-back made of wine crates to the dining room below and out to the street. The Wine Wall is both made of fine wines and an ever changing reflection of the bar’s activity as certain bottles are consumed and new wines introduced, making the architecture an active participant in the pleasure of drinking and wine tasting. The rear dining room on the upper level is intended to be a more relaxed seating area for eating tapas by the stone fireplace that also doubles as a banquet seat.

Assistant Professor, Adjunct Faculty