Praemium Imperiale 2019


Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects

Perhaps to compensate for the demolition in 2014 of what was, up to that moment, the architects’ masterpiece – the American Folk Art Museum of New York –, in 2019 the Praemium Imperiale recognized the career of Williams Tsien, one of the most innovative couples in US architecture. Tod Williams (Detroit, 1943) and Billie Tsien (Ithaca, 1949) work together since 1977 and founded their studio in New York in 1986. Apart from the mentioned museum, they are the authors of formally experimental buildings but always with a civic dimension, like the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia, and in 2016 they were selected to build the Obama Presidential Library in Chicago. In this edition of the Imperiale – award that, since 1988, is bestowed by the Imperial Family of Japan and the Japan Art Association, and endowed with 115.000 euros – Williams & Tsien were recognized in the category of Architecture, along with other four laureates in the fields of painting, sculpture, music, and the performing arts: the South African William Kentridge, the Palestininan Mona Hatoum, the German Anne-Sophie Mutter, and the Japanese Bando Tamasaburo.

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