The Ministry of Culture announced on April 25 that Tunghai University's Luce Memorial Chapel and Taichung Prefectural Hall were being upgraded from municipal level to national historic sites, bringing the total number of such sites across Taiwan to 105.
The Luce Memorial Chapel (路思義教堂) was completed in 1963, built with a donation from the Luce family from the US and tied in with the Christian foundations of Tunghai University itself. As witness to the US' support of Taiwan in the post-WWII and Cold War periods, it has a particular place in Taiwan's religious, political, and educational history.
The chapel was designed by renowned architect I. M. Pei (貝聿銘), the first Chinese-American architect to win the Pritzker Architecture Prize, as his first work in Asia. The practical realization of the design was put in the hands of architects Chen Chi-kwan (陳其寬) and Chang Chao-kang (張肇康), both of whom had been involved with the design as well, creating an outstanding combination of vibrant classical form, cutting-edge structure, and traditional spirit. Structural engineer Feng Hou-san's (陳其寬) precise structural calculations and daring experimental techniques made him another essential contributor to the realization of Pei's creation.
The Luce Memorial Chapel was featured in the March 1957 issue of "Architecture Forum" and the August 1957 issue of "Architectural Record," an uncommonly high level of exposure for Taiwanese architecture. The Directorate General of Posts of the Ministry of Transportation and Communications, which was later restructured into Chunghwa Post, then issued stamps featuring the chapel as one of Taiwan's scenic locations in March 1974, further cementing its iconic status.
In 2014, the chapel was chosen as one of the first 10 recipients of architectural conservation grants from the Getty Foundation's "Keeping it Modern" initiative. The distinctive values of the Luce Memorial Chapel and how they have been incorporated into its design have made it an exemplary and valuable piece of modern architecture.
The Taichung Prefectural Hall (臺中州廳), meanwhile, has tremendous historical, artistic, and scientific value, and provides an important foundation for exploring the historical development of Taichung City. In 1900, early in Japan's rule over Taiwan, the authorities announced their first urban planning project — a restructuring of Taichu, the colonial name for the Taichung region.
This included the construction of a new prefectural hall on the site of the original government office, designed in a magnificent faux-Baroque style by Matsunosuke Moriyama (森山松之助), who had previously designed the Governor General's Office in Taipei. Construction began in 1912, and even today, one can still find traces of the remnants of the old Qing-era examination building.
The Taichung Prefectural Hall sat at a major intersection, creating a central hub of authority together with the neighboring colonial-era City Hall, Bank of Taiwan, and Post Office. Moriyama incorporated elements of Neoclassicism into the design, emphasizing formalism in the facade and focusing on elegance in the interiors. The design allowed for all the necessities of colonial rule, all of which were expressed in the architecture, giving the building a unique personal style and a tremendous influence on the development of modern Taiwanese architecture.
Minister of Culture Cheng Li-chiun expressed her thanks to Tunghai University and the Taichung City Government for their investing their time and resources on cultural education and the preservation of these historic sites.