Obama’s taste in Architecture is as measured as his administration

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The Barnes Foundation, designed by Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects
The Barnes Foundation, designed by Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects / © Matt Rourke/AP
The Barnes Foundation, designed by Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects
The Barnes Foundation, designed by Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects / © Matt Rourke/AP

Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects to design the newest presidential library is as cool under pressure as Obama

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama have selected a New York architecture firm, Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects, to design the Barack Obama Presidential Center, the president’s planned library. The Obama Foundation announced the news on Thursday, ending months of speculation over which firms would grab the Obamas’ attention.

In winning the bid, Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects, a firm captained by the eponymous married couple, edged out some of the top names in the design industry, including SHoP Architects (the firm that designed the Barclays Center), Diller Scofidio + Renfro (a High Line co-designer), and Snøhetta (the new San Francisco Museum of Modern Art addition). The Obamas passed on both European finalists: Renzo Piano (the new Whitney Museum of American Art) and David Adjaye (the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African-American History and Culture). John Ronan Architects, the only Chicago firm to make the finalist round, also lost out in the end.

In a short time, Williams and Tsien have made a name for themselves as sensitive project architects with a cool and casual style—not unlike, perhaps, the president who picked them. Their cultural spaces include the Logan Center for the Arts at the University of Chicago and the Lakeside Center in New York’s Prospect Park. […]

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