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A Collaboration in Taipei

TaipeiIn the spring, three Syracuse University architecture studios—35 students and five faculty members—spent a week in Taipei as part of the Rubin Global Design Studio, an annual architecture travel program. Led by Syracuse Architecture faculty members, including Angie Co, program coordinator for architecture studies at the Fisher Center in New York City; Jimenez Lai, a visiting critic for the spring semester, currently an assistant professor at the University of Illinois-Chicago; and visiting critics Dwayne Oyler and Jenny Wu of Oyler Wu Collaborative in Los Angeles, who both teach at the Southern California Institute of Architecture, the studios are working collaboratively with architecture students from National Chiao Tung University in Taiwan and Hong Kong University to develop design proposals for the Taipei Train Depot site, situated in the Xinyi district of central Taipei.

This unique educational program offers students the opportunity to create new collaborations and partnerships focusing on real world urban issues and problems, functioning as a kind of global office, in one of the most dynamic and architecturally rich cities in Asia. Taipei was recently named 2016 World Design Capital.

Global learning

The trip was made possible through the support of Todd Rubin ’04, chair of the San Francisco Regional Council, and the Rubin Family Foundation. Rubin, a member of the School’s advisory board, has sponsored previous trips as part of the Rubin Global Design Studio at the School. In the spring of 2013, students in visiting critic studios travelled to Baku, Azerbaijan and in 2012, to Copenhagen, Denmark.

“The generosity of Todd and his family has made this truly unique learning experience possible for our students,” said Michael Speaks, dean of the School of Architecture. “In the past decade, Taiwan has led an ambitious program of design competitions for public works, with much of the activity concentrated in the city of Taipei. With its complex history and numerous cultural influences, Taipei is a fascinating study in global urbanism. We hope to continue our collaboration with these universities in the future, focusing on Taipei, one of the most culturally and economically robust cities in the world. “

Architecture student Tope Olujobi ’16, expressed sincere thanks to Rubin in an email message after the trip. “I can honestly say that the trip to Taiwan was the best experience I've had in my life thus far,” she said. “I never imagined that I would travel to an Asian country, but I'm extremely grateful that you made it possible. You've inspired me to give back to Syracuse University in any way that I possibly can, all in the hopes of helping students get exposed to global design.”

The email was gratifying to Rubin and made him feel that establishing the Rubin Global Studio was worthwhile, not only for the students, but for himself, as well. “The trip’s main focus is to expose School of Architecture students to global architecture, giving them an opportunity to travel internationally, something they might not do in their college experience,” he said. The unstated mission of the trip, he adds, is about philanthropy and giving back. “I appreciate the students, like Tope, expressing the desire to give back in the future as an SU alum—it has made the experience come full circle for me,” he said. “I’m glad I’ve had the opportunity to share and instill the value of philanthropy with future Syracuse alums, and hope they will make a difference for Syracuse University in the years to come.”