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U.Va. To Award Annual Thomas Jefferson Medals In Architecture, Law

April 1, 2003-- Anthony M. Kennedy, associate justice on the U.S. Supreme Court, and Tod Williams and Billie Tsien, celebrated educators and architects, will receive the 2003 Thomas Jefferson Medals in Law and Architecture.

The medals are the highest outside awards offered by the University of Virginia, which grants no honorary degrees.

Kennedy has served on the Supreme Court since 1988. He will receive the 27th annual Thomas Jefferson Medal in Law.

Williams and Tsien, founding partners of the New York architectural firm TWBTA, will receive the 38th annual Thomas Jefferson Medal in Architecture.

The awards are sponsored by the University and the Thomas Jefferson Foundation Inc., a non-profit organization that owns and operates Monticello. They will be presented during a private luncheon in the Rotunda as part of the University’s Founders Day celebration. The award is given annually in memory of Thomas Jefferson, the University’s founder, who was deeply interested in law and architecture.

Kennedy will speak Thursday, April 10 at 4:15 p.m. at the law school’s Caplin Pavilion. The title of his talk is “Comments on the Supreme Court.” Williams and Tsien will give a lecture Friday, April 11 at 3:30 p.m. in Old Cabell Hall auditorium. An accompanying exhibition of their work will be held in the Elmaleh Gallery at the School of Architecture.

As part of the Founders Day activities, two magnolia trees will be planted Friday, April 11 at 2 p.m. in Charlottesville on McCromick Road near the University Cemetery, in honor of two University landscape superintendents.

Williams and Tsien

Williams and Tsien have designed and built such buildings as, The Whitney Museum of American Art’s Downtown Branch in New York City, the Neurosciences Institute in La Jolla, Calif., which was awarded a National American Institute of Architects Honor Award, and Hereford College at U.Va.

Recent projects include several residences, the Natatorium at the Cranbrook School in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., The Museum of Folk Art in New York City, which was named the Best New Building in the World by World Architecture magazine in 2002, and The Student Arts Center at John Hopkins University in Baltimore.

Williams and Tsien received the Brunner Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Medal of Honor from the New York City American Institute of Architects, several National American Institute of Architects awards, and the Chrysler Award for Design Innovation.

Both architects bring a desire to cross disciplinary boundaries in their teaching and practice, often performing extensive experiments on materials that result in innovative and unique applications.

Their internationally acclaimed design for The Museum of Folk Art in New York City, for example, covers the building in plates of thombasil, a white bronze alloy. In order to create the look of a hand-tooled surface, meant to reflect the work housed in the museum, Williams and Tsien worked with various artists and craftsmen on alternatives for molding the metal before collaborating on a sand mold taken from concrete and steel to provide the desired effect.

“We are so pleased to honor Tod Williams and Billie Tsien’s outstanding contributions in the field of architecture, architectural education and public service with the Thomas Jefferson Medal,” said Karen Van Lengen, dean of the School of Architecture. “This internationally known practice is celebrated for its institutional and residential projects, as well as its exhibition design. Their work is characterized by a strong formal presence thoughtfully integrated into the landscape and with particular attention to new materials and details.”

Williams received his undergraduate and master of fine arts and architecture degrees from Princeton University. He began his career working for Richard Meier.

Tsien received her undergraduate degree from Yale University and a master of architecture degree from University of California at Los Angeles.

They have taught at Harvard, Yale, the University of Pennsylvania, Parsons School of Design, Southern California Institute of Architecture and the University of Texas at Austin, among others.

Williams held the Thomas Jefferson Chair in the department of architecture at U.Va. in 1990.

Anthony M. Kennedy

A California native and Harvard Law alumnus, Kennedy was appointed to the Supreme Court by President Ronald Reagan. He received his bachelor of arts degree from Stanford University and the London School of Economics. He began his law career in private practice and was appointed by President Gerald R. Ford to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in 1975 at age 38. He was at the time the youngest federal judge.

During his career Kennedy has served in the California National Guard, on the board of the Federal Judicial Center, and on two committees of the Judicial Conference of the United States: the Advisory Panel on Financial Disclosure Reports and Judicial Activities, and the Committee on Pacific Territories, which he chaired from 1982-1990. From 1965 until his Supreme Court appointment he was a professor of constitutional law at the McGeorge School of Law at the University of the Pacific.

Kennedy was nominated for the Supreme Court after the highly conservative Reagan nominee Robert Bork was rejected by the Senate and Reagan nominee Douglas Ginsburg withdrew his name from consideration.

Kennedy, a conservative, is known for his ability to build bridges between the court’s conservative and liberal justices.

Contacts: Jane Ford, (434) 924-4298 and Fariss Samarrai, (434) 924-3778

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Contact the Office of University Relations at (434) 924-7116. Television reporters should contact the TV News Office at (434) 924-7550.

SOURCE: U.Va. News Services

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