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The American Institute in Taiwan (AIT)

The American Institute in Taiwan (AIT)
Taiwan ROC

AIT is the U.S. diplomatic center in Taiwan. While not officially an embassy, it has all the normal functions of an embassy, including a busy visa processing center and a regional language school for the U.S. Foreign Service Institute. Sited in the district of Neihu, not far from the city center, the Institute occupies dramatically hilly terrain at the edge of a dense urban neighborhood. Its large, efficient New Office Building transitions into the surrounding landscape with a series of idiosyncratic smaller structures that negotiate relationships with the adjacent landforms.

At the base of the hill, a circular courtyard leads visa applicants to security screening and a small tower to access services in the main building. Called the “Butterfly Court”, the space’s enclosing wall is ornamented with a running diagram of Taiwan’s native species and their habitats at different elevations on the island. The tower, the bridge, and the screened balcony all connect in a protected outdoor sequence inspired by the geometries of Chinese gardens. Similarly the main entry sequence begins with a courtyard leading to a semi-detached entry pavilion and a walled garden. Lively exterior materials shift around corners and between elements, maintaining the metaphoric suggestion of a work in progress.