Tue, Nov 09, 2010 - Page 2 News List

Airport impasse to end Friday

REDESIGN WRANGLE:The CAA said the contract to remodel Terminal 1 at Taoyuan airport will be canceled if Norihiko Dan does not provide a safe and reliable design

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

The architecture team chosen to remodel Terminal 1 at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport must submit a new design by Friday or it will lose the contract with the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA), Minister of Transportation and Communications Mao Chi-kuo (毛治國) said yesterday.

Last year, the CAA announced it would renovate the terminal, which has been in service since 1979, recruiting Japanese architect Norihiko Dan to redesign it.

Dan intended to create a new facade for the 31-year-old terminal by covering the building with a glass curtain, with the overall image resembling headwear worn by officials in ancient China.

The dispute began when Dan’s team planned to remove pre-stressed beams. After the team conducted an initial test, the CAA asked Dan to consider altering the design as removing the pre-stressed beams could weaken the terminal’s structure. The request enraged Dan, who held a press conference and accused the CAA of disrespecting him as a professional architect.

In response, the CAA entrusted the Chinese Society of Structural Engineering (CSSE) with the task of evaluating the safety of Dan’s design.

“We have invited experts on structural safety and have had five meetings with him [Dan],” Mao told Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Chu Fong-chi (朱鳳芝).

“We listened to [Dan] patiently. He would come up with new ideas every time we met. However, the ideas lacked details for their execution. Nor did he have plans to address the structural safety concerns. All of them were unfeasible,” Mao said.

Mao said the CAA was scheduled to meet with the team on Friday, adding that the Ministry of Transportation and Communications would cancel the contract if Dan’s team failed to provide a safe and viable design.

In a statement last night, Dan said the CAA’s request to not remove the pre-stressed beams contradicted with its expectations that the project could be completed by August next year.

“Do you understand that we would have to redo the structural and fire protection safety review from the top down without removing the pre-stressed beams, making it absolutely impossible to finish by the end of August next year?” Dan asked.

He also accused the CSSE of already having decided on a conclusion when evaluating the safety of the design.

Fan Hsiao-lun (范孝倫), chief of the CAA’s Aerodrome Engineering division, said the goal of completing renovations by August next year remained unchanged.

“He [Dan] has his questions, we also have our doubts,” Fan said. “We asked a third party [the CSSE] to help us resolve the technical questions and he then said that we had a preset conclusion. Does that mean we can listen to no one but him?”

Fan said that some of the experts recruited to assess the project had previous experience evaluating the structure of the Taipei 101 skyscraper.

To say that Taiwan does not have structural safety experts is unacceptable, he said.

While Dan claimed the construction method he chose has been used in Japan and has proven to be safe, Fan said that research showed the method was only used in bridge construction.

There was no documentation that the method could be safely applied to renovate a building, he said.

Fan said that altering the design did not mean the CAA could not finish the project on time, adding that it would abide by the terms stated in the contract.

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