Tod Williams and Billie Tsien: Head/hand

Husband and wife Tod Williams and Billie Tsien detail projects from their prolific career at this Current Work event.

October 24, 2012
7:00 p.m.

TWBTA | The Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia, PA. Credit: Michael Moran

Current Work is a lecture series featuring leading figures in the worlds of architecture, urbanism, design, and art.

“To see architecture as profound optimism” is the foundational principle behind the work of Tod Williams and Billie Tsien. The husband-and-wife firm began working together in New York in 1977, establishing their firm nine years later in the same Central Park South studio where they work today. As exemplified by important works like the American Folk Art Museum (2001) and the recently completed Barnes Foundation building in Philadelphia, “matter, light, texture, detail, and most of all experience” are the essence of their architecture. Their architecture is widely appreciated for its sensitivity, timelessness, and beauty.

Their body of work ranges from large cultural institutions to new skating rinks for Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment at Princeton University, and the recently awarded commission to design the New Embassy Compound in Mexico City. Parallel to their practice, Williams and Tsien maintain active teaching careers and lecture worldwide.

Williams and Tsien are recipients of the American Academy of Arts and Letters Brunner Award, the New York City AIA Medal of Honor, the Cooper Hewitt National Design Award, and the Architectural League’s President’s Medal, among others. Tsien was a winner of the third annual League Prize competition in 1984. Monacelli Press published the firm’s first monograph, Work/Life: Tod Williams Billie Tsien in 2000.

Introduced and moderated by Annabelle Selldorf. Selldorf is the Principal of Selldorf Architects. She currently serves as the President of the Architectural League.


This lecture is co-sponsored by The Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture of The Cooper Union.

The Architectural League is pleased to acknowledge the support of TRESPA for this Current Work lecture. This program is additionally supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.