Liz Diller

Who

Diller is a partner and co-founder of one of New York's most talked-about architecture firms, Diller Scofidio + Renfro.

Backstory

Born in Poland—her parents were Holocaust survivors—Diller immigrated to the U.S. as a kid. She first met Ricardo Scofidio when she was an undergrad at Cooper Union and he was her married professor. (Scofidio has said Diller was his "most brilliant student.") The couple later married and also teamed up professionally—they founded the firm Diller + Scofidio in 1979—but they spent more than a decade out of the limelight as they focused on gallery installations and performance art. In 1990, the couple attracted attention for their design for Slow House, a home in the Hamptons. (The home was never constructed, but their work generated rave reviews.) Then in 2000 the acclaim Diller and Scofodio attracted for their design of the restaurant Brasserie, inside the Seagram's building in Midtown, vaulted them into the major leagues and earned them a slew high-profile commissions. In 2006, they unveiled the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, which critic Nicolai Ouroussoff later described as "the most important building to rise [in Boston] in a generation."

Of note

DS+R has some big projects on its plate. They're currently redesigning Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall (they beat out Richard Meier and Norman Foster for the job), a new arts complex that will feature an undulating grass roof and a walkway made from wire mesh that glows in the dark. Another major assignment is the redesign of the High Line, the long-abandoned 20-block stretch of elevated rail lines in the West Village. (They're collaborating with landscape-architecture firm Field Operations on the project.) Diller finds time to teach, too: She's been a faculty member at Princeton since 1991.

On the job

The firm is a three-person partnership these days (or, as Diller once said, "a couple and a gay guy"): Charles Renfro, who joined the firm in 2000, became a partner in 2003. The short-haired Diller is the DS+R's "designated explainer, persuader, and theorist." She's also the partner who usually interfaces with the firm's clients, like Reynold Levy, the president of Lincoln Center, and Bruce Kovner, the Lincoln Center board member who has been footing the bills.

Trophy case

In 1999, Diller and Scofidio became the first-ever architects to win a MacArthur "genius" award.

Personal

Diller—who is 21 years Scofidio's junior—married her mentor in the late '70s (neither can remember exactly when). They live in the East Village.