Architecture People & Places


Tod Williams Billie Tsien in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The new Barnes Foundation building, designed by Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects is located on a site along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in downtown Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Photo: Michael Moran / OTTO

The recently completed Barnes Foundation building, located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania was designed by 2013 AIA firm of the year Todd Williams Billie Tsien Architects.

A three-part scheme was used to organize the building, comprising: collection gallery, pavillion, and a light court separating the two. The collection gallery is a 12,000-square-foot (1,100-square-meter) space that in many respects replicates a gallery space in the foundation's original home in Merion, Pennsylvania. The light court serves as the building's "living room" and is used for gathering and circulation.

The light court of the Barnes Foundation. Photo: Michael Moran / OTTO

Jury Comments

The Barnes Foundation serves as an example for the museum building typology in its careful consideration of the foundation’s mission, user experience, and sustainable operating practices. 
It commands attention by inviting pedestrians to the site and incorporating the historic landscapes of Philadelphia’s Benjamin Franklin Parkway. 
Given the collection’s requirement for display in its original context, the architect cleverly placed the “old building” within its overall solution. 
The building form successfully resolves challenges of context, security, and materiality as it melds tradition with modernity.
A gallery space of the Barnes Foundation. Photo: Michael Moran / OTTO
The building was recognized in the Architecture category of the 2013 AIA National Design Awards.
Project Credits
  • Architect: Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects
  • Owner: The Barnes Foundation
  • Associate Architect: Ballinger
  • Acoustic and Audio Visual: Acoustic Dimensions
  • Code Consultant: Hughes Associates
  • Concrete Consultant: Reginald Hough
  • Conservation Consultant Architect: Samuel Anderson Architects
  • Construction Manager: L.F. Driscoll
  • Elevator Consultant: Van Dusen Associates
  • Engineer - Civil: Hunt Engineering
  • Engineer - MEP: Altieri Sebor and Wieber
  • Engineer - Structural: Severud Associates
  • Exterior Wall Consultant: Axis Group Limited
  • Food Service: Post & Grossbard
  • Fountain Consultant: Dan Euser Waterarchitecture Inc.
  • Geotechnical: Earth Engineering Inc.
  • Graphics and Way-finding: Pentagram
  • Irrigation System: Irrigation Consulting Inc.
  • Landscape Architect: OLIN
  • Lighting Consultant: Fisher Marantz Stone
  • Property Manager: Aegis Property Group
  • Retail Designer: Charles Sparks and Company
  • Security Consultant: Ducibella Venter & Santore
  • Theater Consultant: Schuler Shook
  • Photographer: Michael Moran/ OTTO
North-south section drawing. Photo: Michael Moran / OTTO

Floor plan drawing. Photo: Michael Moran / OTTO
Inside the Barnes Foundation. Photo: Michael Moran / OTTO
Gallery space. Photo: Michael Moran / OTTO

Staircase. Photo: Michael Moran / OTTO

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