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What in the world:
Cooper Union, New York City
Why go: A deconstructionist cube slashed with a jagged hook-shaped gash, the bold new Cooper Union centers around a 20-foot-wide grand staircase that ascends to a rooftop atrium; that glass topper also serves as a skylight for the 175,000-square-foot superstructure (75 percent of which is naturally lit). Home to the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, Morphosis's iconic design has operable insulating stainless steel panels, radiant heating and cooling, and a "green" roof that entitled it to an LEED Gold rating and makes it 40 percent more energy efficient. In the spirit of Peter Cooper, who founded the institution in 1859 to foster free access to the arts in New York, a public gallery shows architectural exhibits and a 200-seat auditorium hosts open art lectures.
Where to stay: In SoHo, the Crosby Street Hotel is British chain Firmdale's first splashy stateside outpost (doubles, $495$650).
Where to eat: The Double Crown serves "British-Indio-Asian" fusion, including curries and bangers and mash (entrées, $17$29).