“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.
Two architects and educators discuss the state of architectural education, the place of research in the discipline, and the contemporary role of the architect.
Revisiting a 1977 exhibition and publication on the previously unexplored role of drawing within the profession of architecture through the work of 85 accomplished architects of the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries.
Documentation of a symposium on rethinking land and its value in light of climate change, organized by the League in conjunction with The Cooper Union Institute for Sustainable Design, including video of a conversation on Land, Climate, and Culture with Rebecca Solnit and Cassim Shepard.
A multi-year initiative on new ways of thinking and acting on climate change, architecture, and our economic future.