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2013 AIA Architecture Firm Award Goes to Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects
Posted: Friday, December 07, 2012 |

Besides the winner of the 2013 AIA Gold Medal, the American Institute of Architects today also announced the recipient of the 2013 AIA Architecture Firm Award: New York City-based Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects.

The AIA Architecture Firm Award, given annually, is the highest honor the AIA bestows on an architecture firm and recognizes a practice that consistently has produced distinguished architecture for at least 10 years. The firm will be honored at the 2013 AIA National Convention in Denver.

The Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia, PA, the museum that controversially transplanted Albert Barnes’ singular collection of Impressionist, Post-Impressionist and Early Modern art from his suburban quasi-private exhibition space to Center City Philadelphia. Williams and Tsien’s new museum replicates the scale, proportion, and configuration of the original Paul Cret-designed museum, while adding new spaces for education, painting conservation, and research. (Image via twbta.com)

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The Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia, PA, the museum that controversially transplanted Albert Barnes’ singular collection of Impressionist, Post-Impressionist and Early Modern art from his suburban quasi-private exhibition space to Center City Philadelphia. Williams and Tsien’s new museum replicates the scale, proportion, and configuration of the original Paul Cret-designed museum, while adding new spaces for education, painting conservation, and research. (Image via twbta.com)

Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects is noted for exquisite care for detail with subtle, reverent architecture that’s both timeless in its abstracted, meditative forms and materially specific to context and place.

The married team of architects, Tod Williams, FAIA, and Billie Tsien, AIA, have been working together since 1977 and first formed their practice in 1986. They have used the intervening decades to design a celebrated portfolio of overwhelmingly public cultural and institutional buildings: university facilities, libraries, museums, etc. As such, their design language embodies the idealized traits of the body politic; contemplative, enlightened, humble, eloquent, granular and diverse in its individual details but unified in purpose and intent. Despite the growing prestige of their commissions and their recent expansion into international projects, Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects keep their studio relatively small and nimble, at less than 30 people.

The Rifkind House in Wainscott, NY, a Long Island Modernist triptych pavilion clad in warm cedar siding, balanced with cool New York bluestone. Mahogany floor-to-ceiling window frames and custom-designed cherrywood furniture make the house an inviting and convivial entry into the pantheon of Modernist glass-walled houses. (Image via twbta.com)

Click above image to view slideshow
The Rifkind House in Wainscott, NY, a Long Island Modernist triptych pavilion clad in warm cedar siding, balanced with cool New York bluestone. Mahogany floor-to-ceiling window frames and custom-designed cherrywood furniture make the house an inviting and convivial entry into the pantheon of Modernist glass-walled houses. (Image via twbta.com)

“Their work carries with it a spiritual value which transcends pragmatic solutions,” wrote Toshiko Mori, FAIA, in a recommendation letter. “Their projects respond to multiple and complex needs of clients, yet their solutions are simple and elegant. Their firm’s work brings forth the ideals of Modernism, yet is moderated with a contemporary sensibility and intelligence which makes their work rich, tactile, and useful.”

The David Rubenstein Atrium at Lincoln Center in New York City, which cobbles together 7,000 square feet of new public space for performances and Lincoln Center visitors out of the interstitial spaces between buildings. Newcomers and Lincoln Center regulars are treated to a 20-foot tall green wall and 16 skylight oculi, playfully scattered across the ceiling. (Image via twbta.com)

Click above image to view slideshow
The David Rubenstein Atrium at Lincoln Center in New York City, which cobbles together 7,000 square feet of new public space for performances and Lincoln Center visitors out of the interstitial spaces between buildings. Newcomers and Lincoln Center regulars are treated to a 20-foot tall green wall and 16 skylight oculi, playfully scattered across the ceiling. (Image via twbta.com)

Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects are renowned for their material integrity and sense of innovation. They treat materials honestly; concrete forms sculptural free standing stairs, and wood frames unpretentiously warm floor-to-ceiling glass walls. When they can’t find the proper material for a specific use, they invent their own. For example, the University of Pennsylvania’s bioengineering building, Skirkanich Hall, uses a hand-glazed ceramic brick on its front façade that creates an iridescent greenish sheen specially developed for the project, a reference to the ivy-covered brick seen across the 18th century campus.

The C.V. Starr East Asian Library at the University of California-Berkeley, a rare books repository that signals its cultural affiliation with carefully crafted, abstract screen systems. (Photo: Michael Moran, Image via twbta.com)

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The C.V. Starr East Asian Library at the University of California-Berkeley, a rare books repository that signals its cultural affiliation with carefully crafted, abstract screen systems. (Photo: Michael Moran, Image via twbta.com)

Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects is the 50th AIA Architecture Firm Award recipient. Previous recipients of the AIA Firm Award include, VJAA (2012, previously on Bustler), BNIM (2011), Pugh + Scarpa (2010, previously on Bustler), Kieran Timberlake (2008), Muphy/Jahn (2005), Polshek Partnership (1992), Venturi, Raunch, and Scott Brown (1985), I.M. Pei and Partners (1968), and SOM (1962).



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