A temple to the tradition and history of pop music in the heart of Taipei, the Taipei Music Center is about to be reconstructed through images and sounds in the United States at an exhibition devoted entirely to the center. Lyrical Urbanism: The Taipei Music Center is the title of an exhibition opening on April 6 at The Cooper Union’s Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture in New York. The event will tell the story of the design and construction of the center, designed by New York-based firm Reiser+Umemoto, RUR Architecture. Open until the 29th of the same month, the event will use large-scale photographs, architectural models, drawings, and videos, as well as conferences and talks, to reconstruct what was an over ten-year process from the initial tender. Although the successful firm was far removed from the Asian culture, it was chosen for its capacity to meet the project requirement of an interdisciplinary and cosmopolitan approach.
Well aware of the appeal and economic benefit of musical events, and keen to connect with the Japanese music industry, over two years ago the Taiwan Ministry of Culture organized a competition for the creation of a metropolitan hub for the production and enjoyment of pop music, complete with a series of 24/7 services, restaurants, and stores that operate regardless of the event calendar. The result is a large public space comprising three buildings, which, given the long development period of the project, has gradually undergone some changes against the original.
“From the onset, there were questions of whether or not it was appropriate for us, as American architects, to design a center for Taiwanese music, which we knew nothing about,” says Jesse Reiser, principal of RUR Architecture. At the same time, the Taiwanese competition jury was very careful to select then-emerging architects from all over the world, highlighting their cosmopolitan ambitions. I would add, too, that this was a profoundly interdisciplinary collaboration, and we worked closely with technical experts and governmental authorities in Taiwan while staying within our own expertise. So, what I said then – and continue to say today – is that we may have initially known little about Taiwanese music and culture, but we knew a lot about how architecture might be designed to be adopted into any culture or urban context. That’s what this exhibition speaks to above all: how the hard, often alien stuff of architecture is absorbed into everyday life.”
The exhibition is also proof of the Taipei Music Center’s success at hosting important international events. An innovative cultural destination in its own right and a landmark architecturally and otherwise, the center is already demonstrating its power of attraction, recently hosting internationally significant events both indoors and outdoors, such as Yo-Yo Ma in the Concert Hall and Oh! Shake It! in the plaza.
The exhibition was arranged at the invitation of Nader Tehrani, founder of the NADAAA studio and dean of the Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture, who also competed in the competition for the project. Tehrani will be the featured speaker at several sessions, which will also see the participation of New York Times music critic Joshua Barone, Taipei Music Center spokesperson Sandra Hsu, architectural historian and theorist Sylvia Lavin, and architects Jesse Reiser and Nanako Umemoto.
Name: Lyrical Urbanism: The Taipei Music Center
Dates: April 6th to April 29th
Access: Free and open to the public
Please refer to the individual images in the gallery to look through the photo credits