Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation names Tizziana Baldenebro as its executive director

Still coming off of the high of curating the U.S. Pavilion at the 18th Venice Architecture Biennale, Tizziana Baldenebro now has another momentous career move to celebrate: executive director of the Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation (BWAF). Baldenebro’s work and background have long intersected and aligned with the mission of the foundation. For Baldenebro the appointment was also a personal one: Her mother was Willis’s caregiver.

“After I got the U.S. pavilion my mother was like, ‘Oh, the woman I’m working for wants to know more about you.’ And I’m like, ‘Who is the woman you’re working for?’ And it turned out to be Beverly,” Baldenebro told AN.

BWAF advocates for and supports women working in architecture through programming and media projects, such as its podcast New Angle: Voice. It has recently made headlines with the passing of its trailblazing founder Beverly Willis, the announcement of executive director’s Cynthia Phifer Kracauer’s departure, and a new office in the heart of Hudson Yards.

After receiving a Master’s in architecture from the Art Institute of Chicago, Baldenebro came to the conclusion practicing as an architect wasn’t for her. “But I loved the thinking and the framing around architectural design. That really excited me,” she recalled. Her past work mostly as a curator has always aligned with the missions of the foundation.

“Throughout my career I have been a champion of making, bringing to light these unseen underacknowledged histories and narratives,” Baldenebro said. “And so this is just an exciting opportunity to continue doing that work.”

Baldenebro has held a number of curatorial positions at museums and nonprofits like the Art Institute’s Department of Architecture and Design, the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, Red Bull Arts Detroit, and arts nonprofit SPACES in Cleveland. She has also served on the board of FRONT International and is an editor-at-large for Columbia GSAAP’s The Avery Review. The U.S. Pavilion commission was an opportunity to reorient her career toward the intersection of art and architecture, something that has piqued her interest.

“There was a moment where I felt like I was just moving further and further into the art world,” Baldenebro said. “I wanted to think about how to go back to that intersection between art and architecture, which is when [SPACES] applied for the U.S. pavilion. Receiving that and resteeping my own thought processes into architectural narratives architectural frameworks was really exciting.”

Currently Baldenebro has assumed her new role while wrapping up projects with SPACES. She is looking forward to an upcoming meeting with the foundation’s board to hear more on the organization’s history and ideate its future and growth. The team is small and recently moved to a new SHoP-designed office space in Hudson Yards.

“One of the big things that we’re excited for is thinking about what this new space might be,” Baldenebro said. “There’s a lot of development happening around us and thinking, what does it mean to build ourselves as an incubator space or to make space for emerging leaders?”

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