Chris Sturman

The University of Pennsylvania School of Design (PennDesign) has selected architects Tod Williams, FAIA, and Billie Tsien, AIA—co-founders of New York–based architectural practice Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects|Partners, which is the firm behind the design of the Obama Presidential Center—to receive the first Kanter Tritsch Medal for Excellence in Architecture and Environmental Design. The medal celebrates "an under-recognized architect who has changed the course of design history, with a particular focus on the areas of energy conservation, environmental quality, and/or diversity," according to a PennDesign press release.

Last September, PennDesign announced the receipt of a $1.25 million alumna gift from New York–based architect Lori Kanter Tritsch and William Lauder, the executive chairman of the Estée Lauder Co. The gift initiated the Kanter Tritsch Medal and a $50,000 fellowship called the Kanter Tritsch Prize in Energy and Architectural Innovation which will be awarded annually to a second-year M.Arch. student at PennDesign "who demonstrates transformational thinking on the built environment and innovation in his or her approach to energy, ecology, and/or social equity," according to a press release.

Founded in 1986, Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects|Partners has built a portfolio of work ranging from residential to civic and institutional projects. Williams and Tsien's projects include the LEED Gold David Rubenstein Atrium at Lincoln Center and the LeFrak Center at Lakeside in New York. The firm's LEED Platinum Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia was the first major art education facility to achieve that highest level of environmental certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, according to a release.

Williams and Tsien will be officially presented with the medal on Oct. 15 in New York City. Alexandra Mae Adamski, a second-year graduate architecture student will also receive the Kanter Tritsch fellowship.

The 2018 jury comprised Lori Kanter Tritsch; Frederick Steiner, Assoc. AIA, PennDesign dean and co-director of the Ian L. McHarg Center for Urbanism + Ecology; Winka Dubbeldam, Assoc. AIA, founding principal of New York–based firm Archi-Tectonics and the school's chair of architecture; A. Eugene Kohn, FAIA, co-founder and chairman of Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates; and Marion Weiss, FAIA, co-founder of New York firm Weiss/Manfredi Architecture/Landscape/Urbanism.