VIDEO: Tod Williams + Billie Tsien on Making a Home in the Last Bastion of Bohemianism

A video from Next City’s 10th Anniversary Celebration, featuring a story by starchitect duo Tod Williams and Billie Tsien on being evicted from their studio apartment in Carnegie Hall.

This is your first of three free stories this month. Become a free or sustaining member to read unlimited articles, webinars and ebooks.

Become A Member

Last month Next City hosted its 10-year anniversary with a first-person storytelling event in New York City. The night included powerful stories from seven notable urban changemakers.

Tod Williams and Billie Tsien were two of these seven storytellers. The couple founded Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects in 1986. Their studio, located in New York City, focuses on work for institutions — museums, schools and non-profits; organizations that value issues of aspiration and meaning, timelessness and beauty. Their compelling body of work includes the American Folk Art Museum, the David Rubenstein Atrium at New York’s Lincoln Center and the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia. Parallel to their practice, Williams and Tsien maintain active teaching careers and lecture worldwide.

Until a few years ago, home for Williams and Tsien was Carnegie Hall and its community of celebrity photographers, flamenco dancers, playwrights, painters, bow makers, actors and musicians. For more than a century, the high-ceilinged, light-filled studios atop Carnegie Hall housed the most significant 20th century artists and performers, amongst them Marlon Brando, Marilyn Monroe, Isadora Duncan, Barnett Newman, George Balanchine and Norman Mailer.

In the summer, they’d escape the heat of the air-conditionless apartment and sleep on the roof. From a catwalk above the stage of Carnegie Hall, Tsien and her son Kai saw Raffi and Tracy Chapman. But in 2007, the Carnegie Hall Corporation announced plans to evict the 33 remaining studio residents (some residing in the building since the 1950s), closing the door on what Tsien describes as “one of the last bastions of bohemianism.” Hear more anecdotes from Williams and Tsien’s thirty plus years in Carnegie Hall in the video below.

Below is a podcast of the presentation:

We’ve got a couple more videos of our storytellers, so stay tuned! In case you missed our previous posts, watch Dekonti Mends-Cole on the power of memory and Toby Barlow on what made him fall in love with the Motor City.

Like what you’re reading? Get a browser notification whenever we post a new story. You’re signed-up for browser notifications of new stories. No longer want to be notified? Unsubscribe.

Tags: new york cityarchitectureurbanism

×
Next City App Never Miss A StoryDownload our app ×
×

You've reached your monthly limit of three free stories.

This is not a paywall. Become a free or sustaining member to continue reading.

  • Read unlimited stories each month
  • Our email newsletter
  • Webinars and ebooks in one click
  • Our Solutions of the Year magazine
  • Support solutions journalism and preserve access to all readers who work to liberate cities

Join 1104 other sustainers such as:

  • Bianca in Philadelphia, PA at $120/Year
  • Naomi at $10/Month
  • Melanie in Seattle, WA at $10/Month

Already a member? Log in here. U.S. donations are tax-deductible minus the value of thank-you gifts. Questions? Learn more about our membership options.

or pay by credit card:

All members are automatically signed-up to our email newsletter. You can unsubscribe with one-click at any time.

  • Donate $20 or $5/Month

    20th Anniversary Solutions of the Year magazine

has donated ! Thank you 🎉
Donate
×