“To see architecture as profound optimism” is the foundational principle behind the work of Tod Williams and Billie Tsien.
The husband-and-wife team began working together in New York in 1977, establishing their firm nine years later in the same Central Park South studio where they still work today. As exemplified by important cultural projects such as the American Folk Art Museum (2001) and the recently completed Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia, “matter, light, texture, detail, and most of all experience” are the essence of their architecture. Widely appreciated for its sensitivity, timelessness, and beauty, the firm has completed many arts projects, such as the Phoenix Museum of Art, the David Rubenstein Atrium at Lincoln Center, and the Logan Center for the Arts at the University of Chicago.
In conjunction with their 2012 Current Work lecture, an excerpt of which is presented below, Tod Williams and Billie Tsien sat down to discuss their work designing for the arts with Architectural League President Annabelle Selldorf of Selldorf Architects. Their 2009 presentation at the League for the then unbuilt Barnes Foundation is also available below.
Published: November 19, 2012
Three architects discuss designing for the arts
October 24, 2012 | Tod Williams and Billie Tsien | Excerpt from the 2012 Current Work lecture.
O’Donnell + Tuomey discuss their vision for Irish architecture, creating mobility in static forms, and bringing the rigors of traditional craft to contemporary work.
Documentation of a symposium addressing issues of water supply in the context of climate change, considered through case studies of Los Angeles, New York City, and the Great Lakes.
Blackwell and Joy reflect on first meeting 15 years ago, approaches to teaching, and a shared sensitivity to place while “transgressing the vernacular” in their work.
In 2013, Marlon Blackwell Architects expanded the school’s home with a renovation and addition honoring the historic building in a contemporary language. Blackwell toured the school with Tom Phifer.