Reiser + Umemoto's Kaohsiung Port Terminal building caused a temporary panic in Taiwan after a rumor spread on the internet that the building had collapsed. Taiwan News reported that a photograph of the building, which is still under construction inKaohsiung, Taiwan, was shared on Facebook with a caption saying that the structure had collapsed when, in reality, everything was completely fine. Apparently, the appearance of the building's unconventional design led people to believe that something had gone wrong. The rumor started benignly enough. Fan Chiang of New Taipei City received a message from a friend with a joke saying that the building had collapsed, but Fan Chiang believed that the building actually had collapsed and posted an alarming message in a Facebook group, where the news was believed and spread panic across the country. Fan Chiang took down the post when he realized that the news of the collapse was a joke, but it was too late to quiet the online storm. Under Taiwanese law, Fan Chiang is guilty of spreading misinformation and faces criminal charges.
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In 2010 Reiser Umemoto Architects (RUR) entered a competition that might have seemed a strange fit for a small academic firm based in New York City known mostly for theoretical treatises and thoughtful residential design. Halfway around the world, a consortium of government organizations in Taipei, Taiwan, issued a request for proposals for a pop music campus that would etch its image into the local skyline. The groups wanted to bolster the Taiwanese pop industry in the competitive musical landscape of East Asia, amid rival industries in Korea, Japan, and mainland China. The competition organizers wanted an icon, something that would be instantly recognizable to national and international audiences. RUR responded with a submission that included collages showing newscasters announcing the arrival of the latest pop star while standing in front of a geometrically complex design, a mix of swooping arcs and fractal shards. This was the same year that Instagram was launched and only 13 years after the opening of Guggenheim Bilbao, and RUR knew that their proposal had to make an instant impact. These years were a time when Taiwan was producing many high-profile competitions that got international attention for the bold names and often wild designs of the winners. The competitions seemed to have a lot of promise, as clients were looking for avant-garde international firms to make spectacular statements with the sorts of buildings that can rocket a firm to stardom. Toyo Ito’s Taichung Opera House, OMA’s Taipei Performing Arts Center, and Neil Denari’s New Keelung Harbor Service Building all came out of this icon-obsessed mania. The reality for these competitions has been more complicated. “They have big ambitions,” Jesse Reiser said, “and they have prominent architects come in, but the budgets don’t mesh with that.” OMA’s project has stalled midway through construction; Neil Denari’s indefinitely postponed. RUR has, so far, bucked the trend and is close to bringing online not just the Pop Music Center, but also the Kaohsiung Port Terminal, another Taiwanese competition winner. The Pop Music Center scheme features three main masses scattered atop a retail plinth. “Part of our strategy was to expand the project into more of an urban design project, and not just do a mega-building, so we wanted to occupy the entire site,” Reiser said. A cube housing a pop hall of fame stands at one end of the main long site. It is anchored at the other end by the “industry shell,” a faceted mixed-use building that doubles as a band shell for an outdoor performance space in the middle of the site. The main hall is split from these buildings by a road that runs through the site and is connected by a bridge that extends directly into the hall’s lobby. Originally a branching structure similar in form to the Kaohsiung project, the main hall transformed when the client decided to increase the size of the theater from 3,000 to 5,000 seats. The final form resembles a sort of crystalline clam lodged into the landscape. The hall is well underway, and when it is completed, it will be the first of the three Pop Center buildings to finish. The exterior is already covered by an anodized aluminum skin with a distinctive standing seam pattern. The linear metal panels take on a range of tones depending on the angle of the surface, almost white on the pleated roof where they reflect the sky, and a rich bronze on the shaded underside of the facade. Reiser said the particular finish has historic ties to East Asia: “The color is this alumite color that the Japanese used on teapots and on certain fighter aircraft in World War II.” This exterior shell is punctured by the elevated walkway that connects the main hall to the other buildings and leads visitors into a double-height lobby. Faceted perforated aluminum panels with a dark green PVDF coating are backed by an air gap and black mineral wool to create a crystalline cocoon that clads the lobby and theater. The striations from the metal panels get picked up in the one-directional mullions that stripe the soaring glass windows that mark the lobby’s entrance. Large sheets of argon insulated glass units are lined with steel T mullions that run across the windows at various angles, adding an off-kilter dynamism to the entry. The interior and exterior surfaces are richly photogenic, ready to be snapped, shared, and liked by fans around the world. The main hall is expected to be complete in December 2018, and the rest of the complex will be fully constructed in two subsequent phases in the near future. Executive Architect Fei and Cheng Associates RUR team Jesse Reiser, Nanako Umemoto, Neil Cook, Michael Overby, Juan De Marco, Hilary Simon, John Murphy, Kris Hedges, Eleftheria Xanthouli, Toshiki Hirano, Ryosuke Imaeda, Joy Wang, Massimiliano Orzi, Xian Lai, Jasmine Lee, Boliang Pan Structural Engineer Arup HK (through Schematic Design); Supertek, Taiwan (Detailed Design) Exterior aluminum panels produced by Aleris (Belgium) and fabricated by Bolster Corporation (Taiwan)
Internationally recognized Reiser + Umemoto (RUR Architecture) has announced the groundbreaking of the 675,000-square-foot Taipei Pop Music Center (TPMC) at its new site in Taiwan, which took place on Wednesday. The urban complex confronts the confines of conventional performance spaces, consisting of various multifunctional spaces within a cohesive, vibrant venue that represents evolving pop culture. RUR Architecture, along with Fei & Cheng Associates, received first prize at the Taipei Pop Music Center Competition in 2010 for the versatile design. TPMC operates as a global center for the music industry, and the new center connects theater to public space and commerce. Functioning as a hub dedicated to the celebration, production, and reception of pop music in Taiwan and East Asia, the center is expected to become a powerful symbol of the area's international pop music industry. The project makes gestures to integrate itself into the surrounding city and attempts to respect the framework of Taipei street life, but the structure maintains a distinctive architectural identity beyond the existing city. An elevated public overpass will link complex over a major road. The facility will contain three monumental venues: the Main Hall, Hall of Fame, and Industry Shell. The Main Hall, the largest of the venues, will have a seating capacity of 5,000, another outdoor space cal accommodate 3,000 people and a cubic volume will house the Hall of Fame. The project is expected to be complete in 2015.
Today the United States Artists (USA), a national grant-making and advocacy organization, named fifty artists to receive the USA Fellowships, which includes six in design and architecture whose accomplishments, in everything from landscape architecture to digital technology, have distinguished them in their field. These fellows—hailing from New York, Los Angeles, and Arkansas—will receive unrestricted grants of $50,000 each. Among the winners are two architecture firms, a landscape architect, and an academic. P-A-T-T-E-R-N-S From United States Artists:
Marcelo Spina and Georgina Huljich founded their architecture firm, P-A-T-T-E-R-N-S, in Los Angeles in 1999. In their practice, they integrate digital technology with an extensive consideration of form and innovative materials. Working at various scales, they have recently completed a ten-story apartment building in Rosario, Argentina, and a mix-use corporate headquarters in Chengdu, China. Huljich is on the architecture and urban design faculty of UCLA, and Spina is on the design faculty at the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc).Stephen Luoni / Community Design Center From United States Artists:
Stephen Luoni is the Director of the University of Arkansas Community Design Center (UACDC), a non-profit that specializes in interdisciplinary public works projects combining landscape, urban, and architectural design. Luoni’s design and research have won him more than 80 honors, including Progressive Architecture Awards and American Institute of Architects Honor Awards.SCAPE / Landscape Architecture From United States Artists:
Landscape architect Kate Orff founded her firm, SCAPE, in 2004. She merges ecology and strong form to create rich, bio-diverse, textured landscapes that magnify the relationship between people and place. SCAPE’s projects range from a pocket park in Brooklyn to a 1000-acre landfill regeneration project in Dublin, Ireland. Orff is an Assistant Professor at Columbia University and the director of its Urban Landscape Lab.Reiser + Umemoto From United States Artists:
Jesse Reiser and Nanako Umemoto started their internationally recognized firm, Reiser + Umemoto, RUR Architecture, in New York in 1986. They established their firm as “an innovative laboratory in which significant social, cultural and structural ideas are synthesized into a tangible, dynamic architecture.” Reiser is a Professor of Architecture at Princeton University, and Umemoto has taught at various schools in the U.S. and Asia, including Harvard, Hong Kong, and Columbia Universities, as well as The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art.
It happened suddenly, as if out of nowhere: NYU’s Gallatin opened Global Design/Elsewhere Envisioned, an exhibition that comes with two symposia, is described as an initiative, and some hope might just morph into a new school of architecture. A large crowd was on hand for Jesse Reiser of Reiser/Umemoto’s keynote about four far-afield projects. At the reception afterwards, the crowd milled around an installation of some 20 models sitting atop a pile of cleverly laser-cut white poly-foam pieces stacked in interlocking massifs shaped as Manhattan; the bio-paisley pieces can be unlocked and used as package peanuts when the models are shipped on to NYU satellites around the world. Open through June 15, the diverse display included BIG’s 57th Street condo; Reiser Uemototo’s 0-14 in Dubai, mercury-colored droplets by Evan Douglis; 3D-printed green mystery blocks from Urban Future’s The VeryMany, video demonstrations of Decker Yeadon’s Homeostatic Façade System enabled by artificial muscles, WORKac's infrastructure-containing Plug-Out housing proposal, and others, all requiring more focus than possible with a glass of wine in hand. The show was variously referred to as a marvelous and all-too-rare look at assorted contemporary efforts or as the friends-of-Mitch collection. Mitch being Mitchell Joachim, co-fonder of Planetary One who was appointed in the past year together with Louise Harpman of Specht Harpman in New York and Texas and Peder Anker, historian of ecology to get “leading-edge architects, designers, and theorists to address design issues that affect global ecology and the environment.” (More professorship appointments are expected. Hopeful contenders were in the crowd.) Joachim contributed several pieces to the show including a myco-model of the New Museum made from a mushroom grown in seven days under Plexiglas. Stay tuned for Symposium 2 on June 10 when BIG’s Bjarke Ingels is supposed to talk about individual responsibility in the face of climate crisis, presumably against a backdrop of slides of his work.
Construction projects are dropping like flies everywhere you look, falling in the water deader than Air France Flight 447. It's gotten to the point that when a major milestone is met on a significant piece of architecture there is cause not only for rejoicing, but commentary by the architectural press. And lo, our latest great happiness comes (yet again) from the Arabian Desert: In the city of Dubai, United Arab Emirates, work has completed on the structural frame of O-14, an office building somewhat redolent of a block of swiss cheese. Designed by the New York City firm Reiser + Umemoto, the structure makes a significant departure from the otherwise glass-curtain walled edifices of this arid city by the sea. It's exterior is composed of a perforated concrete bearing wall, which does double duty as a shading device, protecting the building from the blazing middle-eastern sun. For a full low down on O-14's uncommon framing system, as well as more construction photos, see our 2008 feature on concrete.