The architectural firm that had been selected to design the National Palace Museum’s Southern Branch has withdrawn from the project.
Antoine Predock Architect PC said on Tuesday that it was quitting the design project with immediate effect and billed the museum headquarters in Taipei for NT$40 million (US$1.2 million) in compensation for losses incurred.
The firm had been selected by a competition jury four years ago from a field of six finalists to design the museum in Chiayi County.
Chiayi County officials in charge of cultural affairs said the firm’s unilateral decision to pull out may have been the result of a failure to reach an accommodation with the museum over serious construction delays, design methods and the quality of building materials.
The officials said that if the museum had agreed to the firm’s demands, it would have led to a 30 percent increase in construction costs.
The project could still proceed despite the firm’s withdrawal if the museum were to reopen international bidding for the design and the budget is approved, the officials said.
“The southern branch could still be built by 2011 as scheduled if the construction budget is passed by the Legislative Yuan in time,” they said.
The Executive Yuan approved the construction of the southern branch in 2003, estimating that the branch museum would be built on a 70 hectare site with a total budget of approximately NT$6 billion.
The budget for clearing the land, which included digging an artificial lake, planting trees and installing irrigation and water-drainage systems, is NT$450 million.
The project had been scheduled to be around 20 percent complete by Jan. 7, though the actual completion figure was listed as 11.9 percent. The government has also not approved the project’s annual budget allocation since 2003.
The 60m-tall building was to have been built in the shape of Yushan, and would have been visible to passengers on the high-speed railway.
Explaining the design concept in 2004, Antoine Predock said: “Our proposal brings into focus a synthesizing concept of the intimate, varied pan-Asian universe that the National Palace Museum Southern Branch intends to illuminate: ‘The need to know ourselves and other Asian regions as well.’”
“Like Lin Hwai-min (林懷民) and Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan’s 2001 production Cursive, visitors move through space and atmosphere, ‘imitating the linear route of ink, full of lyrical flows and strong punctions, with rich variations in energy,’” he said.
Chiayi County Commissioner Chen Ming-wen (陳明文) gave an assurance earlier this year that the branch would open on schedule in 2011, despite serious construction delays.