Conversations in Context

Tod Williams + Billie Tsien

Conversations in Context invited leaders from creative fields to reflect on the site’s past, present, and future, and to contribute their perspectives on the Glass House and its significance to contemporary debates.

Tod Williams received his Bachelor of Arts in 1965 and Master of Fine Arts and Architecture in 1967, both from Princeton. Billie Tsien received her undergraduate degree in Fine Arts from Yale in 1971 and her Master in Architecture from UCLA in 1977. Tod Williams and Billie Tsien have worked together for over 30 years and in1986 they founded Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects. Their concise and compelling body of work includes The American Folk Art Museum in New York, the Neurosciences Institute in La Jolla, California, the Cranbrook Natatorium in Michigan, an addition to the Phoenix Art Museum, Skirkanich Hall at the University of Pennsylvania, and the C.V. Starr East Asian Library at the University of California at Berkeley. Work in construction includes a new museum for the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia, a performing and visual arts center at the University of Chicago, a multi-disciplinary dialogue center at Bennington College, the Asia Society headquarters in Hong Kong, an information technology campus in Mumbai, and two new skating rinks in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park. The firm is also designing a dormitory at Haverford College and a nano-technology laboratory at Princeton University.

Their buildings have been repeatedly honored by the American Institute of Architects and have received numerous awards. In 2002 the American Folk Art Museum, the first new museum built in New York in over three decades, won the Arup World Architecture Award for the Best Building in the World. They have also been the recipients of the Brunner Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Medal of Honor from the New York City AIA, the President’s Medal from the Architectural League of New York and the Cooper Hewitt National Design Award in Architecture. Both architects maintain active teaching careers parallel to their practice and have taught extensively throughout the United States. Most recently, they held the Bishop Visiting Professorship of Architectural Design at Yale University. They are also interested in work that bridges the realms of art and architecture. Billie serves on the advisory council for the Wexner Prize, and is a Director of the Public Art Fund and of the Architectural League of New York. The work of Tod Williams and Billie Tsien pays careful attention to context, detail and the subtleties of materials. Their projects have been published extensively both in the United States and overseas. A monograph entitled Work/Life was released in the fall of 2000 by Monacelli Press.

The 2011 season of Conversations in Context was generously sponsored by BMW and Design Within Reach.

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