Archives > October 2006

Two Upcoming Lectures at the Cooper Union

On October 30th, Renzo Piano will give the inaugural presentation of the Frazen Lecture. Admission is $10. As this lecture is co-sponsored by the Architecture League, League members can make reservations by emailing or calling 212.980.3767.

On November 14th, Thom Mayne of Morphosis will speak. Admission is free.

Both lectures start at 6:30 pm and are held, as usual, at the Great Hall inside Cooper Union's Foundation Building (7 East 7th Street).

See their work I have photographed on Figure/Ground:

Oct 27, 2006 | Filed Under: Architecture & Design |

Taiwan Storyland

Taiwan Storyland 台灣故事館 (táiwān gùshìguǎn/Taiwan Storyland) is a nostalgic recreation of 1960s Taiwan located in the basement of KMall (an electronics and computers mall across from Taipei Main Station). You would think it would just be cheesy as hell but it is surprisingly well-done, featuring a great selection of vintage furniture, cars, bikes, posters, you name it. It's just like the old days, except it is immaculately clean and climate controlled—which is to say, it is nothing like being in the old days at all, but rather a sanitized, Disneyland version of being in the old days. Actually, to be fair, it's not like Main Street Disneyland since it is not at all cartoon-like or unrealistically colorful. It's in fact quite a faithful recreation, something akin to what you would find in a museum.

I didn't realize how big this fictional neighborhood would be until I walked in. Because it is located in the basement of a building, I had always thought it would be just a big restaurant with some nostalgic decorations, like a Hard Rock or some similarly idiotic theme restaurant. But it is a whole lot more than that—it's essentially a small theme park. They have faithfully recreated a tiny neighborhood, all in the basement. In it, you'll find: a police station, a doctor's office, a dental office, a classroom, a salon, a bar, a tiny cinema showing period films, shops, restaurants, etc, etc. There are alleys and streets and cars and bikes and old signs and posters. Aside from the no-dirt aspect of it, everything looked straight out of the 60s. There are lots of great photo opportunities throughout (there are over 1,400 photos tagged with "台灣故事館" on Flickr).

While I may not have been born in the 60s, a lot of the things in the theme park are stuff I remember fondly from my childhood in the 70s. Things like games and snacks and drinks that you don't see anymore in modern-day Taipei. My favorites were the fun old posters and signs from the past.

The entrance ticket is NT$250/US$7.51, but you are given the entire value of the ticket (NT$250) in vouchers to spend inside.

Everything is slightly overpriced, as can be expected from a theme park, but not exorbitantly so. The traditional Taiwanese food I tried was mediocre, but it's certainly edible. There is also a Japanese restaurant and a Chinese restaurant, serving fancier meals, but I didn't try those. Going for an elaborate meal at a place like this makes no sense (plus, I didn't want to spend any more than what I had in vouchers).

Anyway, it's worth spending an hour or two there, especially on a weeknight. On a Monday night when I went, there weren't many people, so you really get the feeling that you are transported back to some quiet (and slightly surreal) old town in Taiwan and you get to take pictures to your heart's content without having people in your frame all the time.

台灣故事館 (Taiwan Storyland) @ KMall B2, 台北市忠孝西路1段50號B2 (B2, No.50, Sec.1, Zhongxiao W. Rd., Taipei), 0800-887-701

Oct 27, 2006 | Filed Under: Taipei |

Computer Shopping in Taipei

So I went looking at Mac Pros (yes, I've decided to switch back... a long story for another day). I went to an authorized dealer and asked (in Mandarin, of course, so I'm paraphrasing here): "So, is the price for the Mac Pro what is listed on Apple's website?"

"Yes," came the answer.

"So why should I buy it from you instead of buying directly online?" I'm fishing for a discount.

"Well, we could install programs for you."

"What do you mean? I thought everything comes installed and ready to use."

"Well, we could install Office for you, that doesn't come with it."

"You mean, the full version?" I asked.


"What about Photoshop?" I asked.

"Yes, that, too."

"So you can get me anything I want."


And I thought this type of blatant piracy is only available in China.

Oct 25, 2006 | Filed Under: Taipei, Technology |

Eames House

Eames House

I promised frequent updates on Figure/Ground, so here it is: another set of photos, this time of the Eames House.

Oct 23, 2006 | Filed Under: Announcements, Architecture & Design, Photos, Travel |

Caltrans and Guthrie


After laying dormant for close to a year and a half, my travel and architecture photography site, Figure/Ground, has finally been updated! Hopefully there will be frequent updates over the next few weeks as I put up all the photos from the past 2 years (I may not have had the time to update the site, but I didn't stop traveling or taking photos!).

First up, the Caltrans District 7 Headquarters (pictured above) in Los Angeles and the new Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis.

Oct 16, 2006 | Filed Under: Announcements, Architecture & Design, Photos, Travel |

Taipei Subway Etiquette

You are not allowed to eat or drink in the subway system in Taipei and the rule is strictly followed by everyone. The trains and stations, as a result, are immaculately clean.

I was on the train today when I saw a woman accidentally spill some of the drink she was holding (but not drinking, of course) onto the floor. What happened next stunned me. She and her two friends immediately got out some tissues from their purses, kneeled down and wiped the floor clean!

Oct 9, 2006 | Filed Under: Taipei |