Tod Williams and Billie Tsien Share Renderings of a Lively Arts Facility in New Hampshire

Docservis Hall of Fame member Tod Williams, co-founder of Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects | Partners, shares insight about the firm's design concept for a New Hampshire arts facility.

Rendering courtesy of Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects | Partners.

To understand a project in as few words as possible here at Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects | Partners, Billie and I use drawings to converse with each other. I have maybe 150 pens and pencils on my desk. If there’s a pen in front of me, I intuitively pick it up. The drawings themselves are insignificant. There’s only one search, and it’s for the final product. I sketch rather quickly, not worried about the quality.

Sketch rendering by Tod Williams/Courtesy of Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects | Partners.

This project, the at Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire, is a statement for us, a guiding light. I thought of the building like a beehive, with the performers, students, and audience as the bees. The brick exterior is muted, much like a hive’s, but inside it’s full of activity. I believe the interior is the most important part of any building.

Drawing on white tracing paper with a black Sharpie, I was trying to understand the nature of the building. I wrote ‘beehive’ with Wite-Out, and the yellow is just a desk highlighter. As I get older, I’m less interested in the precision of the drawing, and more interested in the precision of the building.

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