The construction of Cooper Union's landmark Foundation Building, designed by Frederick A. Peterson, was begun in 1853 and completed six years later. A forerunner of the modern skyscraper, it was one of the first buildings in New York to be supported by rolled wrought iron beams, which were developed by Peter Cooper and produced in his own ironworks in Trenton, New Jersey. In addition to its structural innovations, the building won immediate recognition for its round elevator shaft, Italianate brownstone exterior and basement auditorium--The Great Hall--which was cooled by an imaginative ventilation system.