RUR Architecture: What Inspired the Team to Design the Taiwan Music Center and Kaohsiung Port Terminal

Felicia Lin
4 min readMar 17, 2023

The Kaohsiung Port Terminal just opened on March 6th and I had a chance to speak with Jesse Reiser AR’81 and Nanako Umemoto AR’83 of Reiser+Umemoto, RUR Architecture, the architects behind its design. They are the team that also designed the Taipei Music Center which opened on September 5, 2020. We spoke about their 35-year-long careers in architecture, how they landed both of these projects in Taiwan, the inspiration behind the design of the projects, and what contributed to delays in completion. Both projects were expected to be completed and in operation by 2014. Also with us when we spoke was Jasmine Lee, the project manager for the Taipei Music Center and Kaohsiung Port Terminal projects at RUR Architecture.

[LISTEN to the Complete Episode HERE on APPLE PODCASTS or SPOTIFY]

We will be bringing back Jesse, Nanako and Jasmine to show us the Kaohsiung Port Terminal, Taipei Music Center and other architecture projects via video. That video will be posted on Talking Taiwan’s YouTube channel at a later date.

This episode of Talking Taiwan has been sponsored by NATWA, the North America Taiwanese Women’s Association.

NATWA was founded in 1988, and its mission is:

1. to evoke a sense of self-esteem and enhance women’s dignity,

2. to oppose gender discrimination and promote gender equality,

3. to fully develop women’s potential and encourage their participation in public affairs,

4. to contribute to the advancement of human rights and democratic development in Taiwan,

5. to reach out and work with women’s organizations worldwide to promote peace for all.

To learn more about NATWA visit their website: www.natwa.com

Here’s a little preview of what we talked about in this podcast episode:

  • How Jesse, Nanako and Jasmine ended up choosing their careers in architecture
  • How things have evolved in Jesse and Nanako’s 35-year-long careers in architecture
  • How Jesse and Nanako started teaching and how that has shaped their careers in architecture
  • How Jesse and Nanako started entering architecture competitions, and things transpired from there
  • The Dubai tower project that Jesse and Nanako worked on
  • The AIishan Mountain project that Jesse and Nanako won
  • The inspiration behind the Taipei Music Center
  • How and why the Taipei Music Center project changed over time
  • The purpose/function of the Taipei Music Center
  • How other projects like the stadium in Taipei aka the Taipei Dome have been delayed and not completed
  • How Aldo Rossi, Jesse’s teacher and employer influenced the design of the Taipei Music Center
  • The indoor and outdoor performance space of the Taipei Music Center
  • Why it took over 10 years to complete the Taipei Music Center
  • The Taipei Music Center opened on September 5, 2020, and on October 3rd the 31st Golden Melody Awards were hosted there
  • The three functions of the music center: performance, history, production
  • Social media’s impact on the visibility of the Taipei Music Center
  • What a surprise it was to win the design competition for the Kaohsiung Port Terminal
  • Why the Kaohsiung Port Terminal project took 13 years to complete and the adjustments that had to be made over time
  • How the Taipei Music Center and Kaohsiung Port Terminal projects were inspired by Jesse and Nanako’s work in New York
  • Jesse and Nanako’s work in New York
  • How teaching affects their approach to architecture projects
  • The O-14 tower in Dubai that Jesse and Nanako worked on
  • What it is like seeing one’s architectural projects completed and come to life
  • Jesse, Nanako and Jasmine’s thoughts on being architects and their advice for those interested in going into architecture

Related Links:

Reiser+Umemoto, RUR Architecture DPC: https://www.reiser-umemoto.com/

Reiser+Umemoto, RUR Architecture DPC on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/reiser_umemoto_rur/

Reiser+Umemoto, RUR Architecture DPC on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/rur-architecture-dpc/

Taipei’s Monumental Music Center Revitalizes Urban Space and a Rapidly Changing Industry: https://metropolismag.com/projects/taipei-music-center-rur-architecture/

Aldo Rossi: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aldo_Rossi

The Grand Hotel: https://www.grand-hotel.org/EN/official/main.aspx?gh=TP

Alishan: https://www.ali-nsa.net/en

Taipei Dome project misses October deadline (an article from Taiwan News): https://www.taiwannews.com.tw/en/news/4579817

Ko to blame for Taipei Dome delay (Taipei Times article): https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/editorials/archives/2022/07/03/2003781028

Agency denies claims it is stalling dome review (Taipei Times article): https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/taiwan/archives/2022/03/11/2003774584 New Museum: https://www.newmuseum.org/building

How Taiwan’s new $220 million arts center radically rethinks theater design (and article from CNN): https://www.cnn.com/style/article/taipei-performing-arts-center-oma-theater/index.html

Performing arts center in Taiwan fosters arts and culture: https://www.asce.org/publications-and-news/civil-engineering-source/civil-engineering-magazine/issues/magazine-issue/article/2023/01/performing-arts-center-in-taiwan-fosters-arts-and-culture

LISTEN to Episode 230: RUR Architecture: What Inspired the Team to Design the Taiwan Music Center and Kaohsiung Port Terminal HERE

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Felicia Lin

Felicia Lin is the producer and host of Talking Taiwan, the longest running Taiwan-related podcast, and Golden Crane Podcast Award Winner.