American Institute in Taipei
The American Institute of Taiwan is the unofficial equivalent of an embassy, dramatically sited at a district boundary where dense, high-rise Taipei confronts an edge of green open space. Taking inspiration from the great legacy of Chinese garden design, the master planning and design provide for the functional requirements of a large, complex program, while effectively negotiating the challenges of site topography, security, and multiple modes of strictly controlled access. To connect the building to its landscape, smaller, idiosyncratic pavilions for entry and shade are loosely arranged around the larger mass of the Chancery, their seemingly random layout guided by landforms and planting.
Arrival, waiting, and movement of pedestrian visitors are carefully sequenced through one of the busiest visa operations of any US consulate: from a circular street-level courtyard to an elevator tower, and up to a covered terrace and great hall, poised above a steep jungle slope.
Within the building the open lofts of the workplace orient north and south, to views of nearby mountains, and social spaces are gathered at the east and west ends of a shared central core. A gracious lobby is ornamented by a 2-story glass wall of the Chinese “alphabet”, announcing AIT’s Language School, where career diplomatic trainees come for courses in traditional Chinese language and culture.