President's Distinguished Speakers Series: Architects Tod Williams and Billie Tsien

Campus Recreation Center GymnasiumOpen to the Public

Internationally award-winning architect team Tod Williams and Billie Tsien will visit Roger Williams University to discuss their optimistic architectural philosophy and share how this has helped to shape the institutional and public projects they build. 

Williams and Tsien – who were selected last year as the designers of the Obama Presidential Center – will give a presentation as part of RWU’s President’s Distinguished Speaker Series and the Talking About Race, Gender and Power series, which aims to engage the community in informed dialogue on the intersection of race, gender and power in America.

In their presentation, “Optimism,” they will explore how their design process has helped to create buildings of purpose that are deeply rooted to a place and built to serve generations to come.

Williams and Tsien began working together in 1977 and founded their architectural practice in 1986. Located in New York, their studio focuses on work for institutions, including schools, museums, and not-for-profits. A sense of rootedness, light, texture, detail, and most of all, experience, are at the heart of what they design.

Over the past three decades, Williams and Tsien have received numerous national and international citations. In 2013, they received the National Medal of the Arts from President Obama and Firm of the Year Award from the American Institute of Architects. Notable projects include the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia, Asia Society Center in Hong Kong, LeFrak Center in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, and Logan Center for the Arts at the University of Chicago. Last year, they were selected to design the Obama Presidential Center.

Williams was born in Detroit, MI and received his MFA and Master of Architecture from Princeton University, and is a trustee of the American Academy in Rome. Tsien was born in Ithaca, NY and received her undergraduate degree in Fine Arts from Yale University and Master of Architecture degree from UCLA. She is the current President of The Architectural League of New York. Outside the studio, they are active participants in a broad cultural community and maintain long-standing associations with many organizations devoted to the arts. At various times, they have taught at the Cooper Union, Harvard University, Cornell University, Yale University, and the University of Michigan. As both educators and practitioners, they are dedicated to creating a better world through architecture.