June 9, 2007
Tadao Ando Is a Total Rock Star
11,000 people attended a lecture by Tadao Ando today in Taipei, held at the Taipei Arena.
ELEVEN THOUSAND PEOPLE!
That is just insane.
I know there's nothing to do in Taipei and the herd mentality of the Taiwanese cannot be underestimated (this is, after all, a country of people who would wait in line for 6 hours to buy donuts just because it was the hot new thing), but this is mind boggling. 11,000 to hear an architecture lecture? I'm willing to wager that 80% of the people who attended would not be able to ID an Ando building.
The lecture was free, sponsored by Toto (the Japanese toilet company). As many as 30,000 applied for the ticket drawing. Those who did not get one were supposedly paying upwards of NT$2,400/US$72.65 in online auctions.
Those who paid for the tickets got to hear one crappy lecture. Ando talked about nothing substantive nor insightful. The talk started with Ando striding the length of the arena floor onto the stage to thunderous applause, accompanied by the the theme of Rocky (I'm serious). And it was all downhill after that. For about 90 minutes, he talked superficially about his early life and career, then glossed over a few of his projects (Rokko Housing, Naoshima, his own office in Osaka). If you factor in the fact that he spoke in Japanese and had to be translated after every sentence, he spoke for no more than 50 minutes. After that, some Tokyo Univeristy professor and some Taiwanese dude joined him on stage for a 45 minute discussion/Q&A session, which was more fluff. A few softball questions and answers later, it was over. This is a far cry from the architecture lectures I used to attend at Cooper's Great Hall. Even conceding the fact that he probably had to shoot for the lowest common denominator with such a ridiculously large audience, it was still an extremely disappointing lecture.
 When Mister Donuts opened its first store in Taipei a few years ago.
Ando works I've photographed: