Tod Williams and Billie Tsien are two architects that have designed some really impactful and beloved buildings around the world. They’re an outstanding team that have applied their craft to a wide variety of projects, from museums and embassy buildings to private homes and large-scale cultural institutions. Their husband-and-wife architectural firm has been making a name for itself since 1986, and I’m always looking forward to seeing what they will accomplish next.
Tod is originally from Detroit, Michigan and received his undergraduate degree, MFA, and Master of Architecture from Princeton University. Billie is from Ithaca, New York and earned her undergraduate degree in Fine Arts from Yale University and her Master of Architecture from UCLA. Both began working together starting in 1977, and ever since, they’ve been completing projects all over the world that are renowned for their scope, attention to detail and the surrounding landscape, and commanding presence.
Through their firm, TWBTA, Tod and Billie have designed iconic buildings like David Geffen Hall, The U.S. Embassy Complex in Mexico City, and Phoenix Art Museum, among many others. They’re also the minds behind the ambitious design of the Obama Presidential Center that just broke ground in Jackson Park on the South Side of Chicago.
Taking into account the mission of the Obama Foundation to provide a space for community gatherings and a center for civic engagement, it was designed as a sprawling campus that integrates the park’s historic landscapes with a museum tower, a forum, a plaza, and a public library. A portion of one of President Obama’s inspiring speeches will be imprinted into the facade of the museum, and ample spaces for the local community to gather were just some of the amazing design choices that were made to transform it into a place that would inspire and uplift people from all over the world while documenting the legacy of President Obama and Mrs. Obama.
I’ve been contributing to this project since the beginning, and I can definitely say that Billie and Tod were the best architects for the job. Their expertise has won them many awards, including the American Academy of Arts and Letters Brunner Award, the New York City AIA Medal of Honor, the Cooper Hewitt National Design Award, the Architectural League’s President’s Medal, and more.
They exemplify what it means to be partners in both life and work, and I can’t wait to see the completion of the Obama Center and many more projects that they dream up in the future.