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Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara, of Grafton Architects - Gandon Medal, 2019
Architect:Yvonne Farrell, FRIAI and Shelley McNamara, FRIAI of Grafton Architects
Award Type:Gandon Medal
On 26 November 2019 the RIAI awarded the RIAI James Gandon Medal for Lifetime Achievement in Architecture to Yvonne Farrell, FRIAI and Shelley McNamara, FRIAI of Grafton Architects. The Gandon Medal is the highest personal award given to an Architect in Ireland.
Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara, who studied at UCD together, founded Grafton Architects in 1978. Over their distinguished career spanning four decades, they have won numerous national and international awards. They were awarded the prestigious RIAI Gold Medal for Bocconi University in Milan in 2018, an award given by the RIAI to a building of outstanding merit. Bocconi University was also the inaugural recipient of the ‘World Building of the Year’ award, while their UTEC university campus in Lima, Peru won the RIBA ‘International Prize’. In 2018, Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara were the curators for the Venice Architecture Biennale, the world’s most renowned architectural showcase.
In January 2019, the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Josepha Madigan T.D., appointed them as Cultural Ambassadors to raise the public focus on arts and culture as a means of promoting Ireland globally. Grafton Architects’ recent projects include the redevelopment of the ESB Head Offices and the Parnell Square Cultural Quarter Project in Dublin. They are currently completing the Institut Mines Telecom in Paris and the School of Economics for Toulouse university, and are working on a commission for the London School of Economics. Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara have held chairs of architecture at Harvard and Yale Universities in the US
David Browne, RIAI President said, “The RIAI Gandon Medal is the highest personal honour in Irish architecture, being awarded not for any individual design project but for the lifetime’s contribution to the advancement of architecture. Their contribution to architecture is unparalleled and it is only fitting that they receive this accolade. I am delighted to be awarding Yvonne and Shelley the RIAI Gandon Medal for their work which has spanned both home and abroad and continues today.”
On their win, Yvonne Farrell/Shelly McNamara, founders of Grafton Architects said: “Grafton Architects are enormously proud to receive the Gandon Medal in recognition of a lifetime's work. Given the status of James Gandon, one of the leading architects of his time, who made timeless contributions to the Architectural Legacy of Dublin, this honour brings with it an enormous sense of responsibility. We will endeavour to live up to this responsibility. We thank the RIAI for bestowing this great honour upon us.”
Along with the Gandon Medal, Grafton Architects has been named as the recipient of the 2020 Royal Institute of British Architects’ (RIBA) Gold Medal, the UK’s highest honour for architecture. It marks just the second time in the RIBA award’s 172-year history that the prize has been given to a women-led firm, following Zaha Hadid’s win in 2016, and the third Irish recipients, following Michael Scott and Sheila O’Donnell and John Tuomey.