‘Lyrical Urbanism: The Taipei Music Center’ to Open at Cooper Union




Photograph courtesy Yana Zhezhela & Alek Vatagin

Lyrical Urbanism: The Taipei Music Center, an exhibition marking the recent completion of Reiser+Umemoto, RUR Architecture’s Taipei Music Center (TMC), a new musical district within Taipei, will be on view at Cooper Union’s Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture April 6-29, 2022. Designed by the project’s architects from the New-York based firm, it will feature mural-sized photographs, architectural models, drawings, and audiovisual media that explore the decade-long design process, Taiwan’s music industry, and the nation’s cosmopolitan ambitions. The opening reception in Cooper Union’s Great Hall on April 6 will include a lecture, panel discussion, and a musical performance composed for the occasion.

This exhibition was arranged at the invitation of Dean Nader Tehrani, who competed against RUR in the competition for the project. Its goal is to not only introduce the completed project but to also draw insightful relationships between its American architectural origins and adoption into Taiwanese culture and highlight the inevitable changes that took place during its long gestation and development.

Left: Photograph courtesy Yana Zhezhela & Alek Vatagin

“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,” notes Jesse Reiser, principal of RUR. “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 an 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 TMC was conceived as a ‘City of Pop Music’, a hybrid and multipurpose site dedicated to the performance, curation, production, and celebration of pop music in Asia. For more than half a century, Taiwan has enjoyed a high standing among musical talent from Chinese speaking countries, which the TMC continues to foster, welcoming everyone with its belief that “Music is Life, Living Music.” The center has three major buildings: The Concert Hall, the Cultural Cube, and the Creative Hub. A new elevated public ground bridges the north and south bases which are divided by Civic Boulevard, bringing the three buildings together in a coherent design. The building program also includes four livehouses, which allow for simultaneous performances and support new talent with intimate concerts.

Since the Concert Hall’s grand opening in August 2020, the TMC has hosted a variety of high-profile musical and cultural events, including the inaugural concert of Yo-Yo Ma’s Asian tour and the Golden Melody Awards. The Cultural Cube also launched its permanent exhibition “Music, Island, Stories: Pop Music in Taiwan”, taking visitors on an immersive and interactive journey to learn about how Taiwan’s music industry has evolved over the decades. Scheduled to start operations later this year, the Creative Hub will foster new talent and attract a range of visitors.

Photograph courtesy Jasmine Lee, RUR Architecture

A limited-edition box set accompanying the exhibition, featuring archival prints, three exhibition catalogs, and silicone cake molds in the shape of the project’s Concert Hall, will be available for purchase through RUR and architectural printmaking gallery a83.

Lyrical Urbanism is made possible by Dean Nader Tehrani, the Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture, The Cooper Union, The Taipei Cultural Center in New York, the Ministry of Culture, Taiwan, The Taipei Music Center, and Elise Jaffe and Jeffrey Brown.

About Reiser + Umemoto, RUR Architecture DPC
Reiser+Umemoto, RUR Architecture is an internationally recognized architecture office and design atelier. Since its founding in 1986 by principals Jesse Reiser (FAIA, FAAR) and Nanako Umemoto, the firm has remained at the forefront of contemporary architectural design through its built and speculative projects, critical writings, workshops, lectures, teaching, and mentorship. In 2006, Reiser+Umemoto published the Atlas of Novel Tectonics, widely recognized as an essential work of contemporary architectural theory. The firm’s first comprehensive monograph, Projects and Their Consequences, was published in 2019, tracing thirty years of innovative, multidisciplinary investigations of form, structure, technique, and planning.

In 2010, the firm was awarded first prize for the competitions to design Taipei Music Center and the Kaohsiung Port Terminal in Taiwan, both of which began construction in 2013. The Taipei Music Center was completed in 2021, and the Kaohsiung Port Terminal is expected to be completed in 2022. O-14, a 22-story exoskeletal office tower in Dubai, was completed in 2012 and has since received numerous international honors, including an AIA Design Award, the Concrete Industry Board’s 2009 Award of Merit, the American Council of Engineering Companies’ 2009 Diamond Award, and the 10 Year Award of Excellence by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat.

About the Taipei Music Center
The Taipei Music Center is the first site created for and wholly dedicated to music in Taiwan. The major buildings are the Concert Hall, accommodating up to 5,000 people, the Cultural Cube,  presenting the history of popular music in Taiwan, and the Creative Hub, which serves as an incubator for young musical talents. The construction was funded by Taiwan’s Ministry of Culture and executed by Taipei City Government. Kay Huang is appointed by the Mayor of Taipei City the chairperson of the board of the TMC.

Lyrical Urbanism: The Taipei Music Center will be on view from April 6 to April 29, 2022 with Opening Reception on April 6th at 6:30pm, including a performance, lecture and panel discussion, in the third floor hallway gallery and lobby, Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture, The Cooper Union Foundation Building, East 7th Street, NYC. This exhibition is free and open to the public.