Monday, July 13, 2009

New AIT office in Taipei breaks ground

On June 22nd, the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) dedicated the ground for a new representative office in Taipei. The new office will be the home to the United States’ de facto embassy established after Washington switched formal recognition to Beijing three decades ago. The investment in a new office compound serves as an indication of renewed warmth in relations between Taipei and Washington, said AIT Taipei-based Director Stephen Young.

"The new AIT building that will one day stand on this site will weave together these various strands of our complex, productive, and friendly relationship," Young said during a dedication ceremony at the site in the district of Neihu.

The ceremony was also attended by Taiwan Legislative Yuan speaker, Wang Jin-pyng, Vice Premier Chiu Cheng-hsiung, National Security Council secretary general, Su Chi, Taipei mayor, Hau Lung-bin, and former Taiwan Representatives in Washington, Frederick Chien and Joseph Wu, according to the Central News Agency.

Speaking at the ceremony, Wang said that in the absence of formal diplomatic relations, the US is the first country to build a de facto embassy compound in Taiwan, which is symbolic, signaling a new page in bilateral ties.

The AIT said the US$170 million compound will include an office building of approximately 14,000 square meters (150,696 square feet), a parking area and ancillary structures. All of AIT's Taipei divisions, including the American Cultural Center, the Commercial Section, the Chinese Language and Area Studies School, and the Agricultural Trade Office, will be all under one roof for the first time.

The 6.5-hectare (16-acre) site, leased to the AIT for 99 years, is within walking distance of the Taipei Metro’s newly opened Neihu station on the extended Muzha Line that officially opened on July 4.

The first phase of the AIT project, involving site clearance and grading, has been awarded to Weston Solutions, Inc. of Pennsylvania for a contract worth US$54.4 million. The contract to build the new office facilities has not yet been awarded.

However quickly construction gets underway, the project will certainly not be complete in time for the arrival of the new AIT director William Stanton, who assumes his duties in August.

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About Me

The Press Division of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in San Francisco represents the Government Information Office (GIO), Executive Yuan, Republic of China (Taiwan). GIO maintains nine Press Divisions in the United States, including the San Francisco office. The Press Divisions are in charge of promoting Taiwan's public relations and cultural exchanges. This blog is updated by the Press Division, TECO in San Francisco.