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Architects Tod Williams And Billie Tsien To Receive 38th Annual Thomas Jefferson Medal In Architecture At The University Of Virginia

January 21, 2003-- Tod Williams, FAIA, and Billie Tsien, celebrated educators and architects, will receive the 38th annual

Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal in Architecture and give a talk at the University of Virginia during its Founder’s Day celebration on Friday, April 11.

Their public lecture will be held 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.

“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 and Tsien, founding partners of the New York architectural firm TWBTA, 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 in New York City, Southampton, New York and Phoenix, Ariz., 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.

“Our work bridges different worlds – across theory and practice; across architecture and the fine arts,” reads a TWBTA statement.

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.

Williams received his undergraduate and master of fine arts and architecture degrees from Princeton University. He began his career working for Richard Meier from 1967-1973.

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 the U.Va. in 1990.

The Jefferson Medal in Architecture and its counterpart in law recognize lasting contributions in fields that deeply interested the University’s founder. They are the highest outside honors offered by U.Va., which grants no honorary degrees.

The awards are sponsored jointly by the University and the Thomas Jefferson Foundation.

For more information, contact Derry Voysey at (434) 982-2921 or

Contact: Jane Ford, (434) 924-4298

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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