If all goes as planned, Taiwanese pop will get an expansive home where musical culture meets high design. Construction is expected to begin in 2012 on Taipei Pop Music Center, a $110-million entertainment complex envisioned by Reiser + Umemoto RUR Architecture, with engineers from Arup Associates.
The team’s competition-winning design for a difficult 823,000-square-foot site in Taipei places three main structures on two separate pieces of land, which will be connected by a broad new walkway built over an existing road. “In a sense, it’s really a piece of the city,” says Jesse Reiser, one of the firm’s founding principals along with Nanako Umemoto. “We deliberately bridged the two sites, and created an elevated public ground to connect all of the elements.”
A 17-story tower will hold a performance venue at its base with seating for 4,500 to 6,000 people, and provide offices for music industry professionals above. A separate cube, likely with LED media facades on three full sides, will house a Hall of Fame.
On the public grounds, a movable and expandable stage, dubbed a “robot theatre,” will host outdoor events. The shape-shifting theater, which rolls on tracks, is “something we invented to address the changing scales of performances on the site,” explains Reiser.
Situated at the far end of the grounds, it can accommodate more than 15,000 attendees. For events with just a few hundred people, says Reiser, the theater rolls forward and “kisses the face of the cube,” where limited seating is provided in a recess.
When not hosting concerts, the space offers a park-like environment. “We thought the outdoor space shouldn’t just be a place given over to performance, like a stadium, because it also has to work as an urban space during downtimes,” says Reiser.
Reiser + Umemoto's design was chosen through a competition that attracted entries from around the world, including submissions from Toyo Ito & Associates, Morphosis, and JDS Architects. All of the firms that made the final short-list were from the United States; in addition to Reiser + Umemoto, the other finalists were Chicago’s Studio Gang Architects, and Boston’s Office dA.
The city government of Taipei announced the winner in January. Construction is slated to be finished in 2014.