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RIAI Announces Winner of Prestigious Gold Medal Award for Architecture - Bocconi University

Published: Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Dublin, Tuesday 20 February: The Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland (RIAI) has awarded its premier award for architecture - the RIAI Gold Medal for Architecture 2007-2009 - to Grafton Architects for its design of Bocconi University in Milan, Italy.  The medal was presented to Grafton Architects founders Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara by RIAI President David Browne on 20 February.  Among the guests in the RIAI was the Italian Ambassador to Ireland, Paolo Serpi.

RIAI Gold Medal  - RIAI CEO, Kathryn Meghen, RIAI President David Browne, Grafton Architects founders Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara. Photo by Conor Healy Photography

The RIAI Gold Medal is Ireland’s top accolade for architecture.  Since 1934, the RIAI has awarded the Gold Medal to a building, either in Ireland or internationally, for a design of exceptional merit by an RIAI architect.  The project must be completed within a defined three-year period and the medal is awarded several years after completion so that the success of the building can be confirmed by the passage of time.

RIAI Gold Medal - Bocconi University by Grafton Architects. Photo Federico Brunetti

Photo caption LR: RIAI President, David Browne, Shelley McNamara Grafton Architect, Italian Ambassador to Ireland, Paolo Serpi and Yvonne Farrell Grafton Architects. Photo by Conor Healy Photography

Since its construction, the winning building has been received with wide acclaim and is recognised as a seminal contemporary work, after scooping the World Building of the Year Award 2008.

Another finalist in the competition for the RIAI Gold Medal, O’Donnell + Tuomey Architects was Highly Commended for its design of the Sean O’Casey Community Centre in East Wall, Dublin.

Sean O'Casey Community Centre O'Donnell+Tuomey. View from Sheriff Street. Photo by Michael Moran

Speaking at the event, David Browne, President, RIAI, said: “RIAI architects have a vital role to play when it comes to creating a quality built environment that is inclusive for everyone in society.  Recipients of the RIAI Gold Medal are exemplars of the profession, both at home and abroad, and I would like to heartily congratulate both Grafton Architects and O’Donnell + Tuomey Architects on their accomplishments.  It’s especially noteworthy for Grafton Architects in the same year that Yvonne and Shelley have been given the prestigious honour of curating the Venice Architecture Biennale.  This is a significant achievement not only for Grafton Architects, but also for Irish architecture in general.  It demonstrates the high regard in which Irish architects are held around the world.”

Shortlisted Projects

A House, Dublin by FKL Architects
Alto Vetro Residential Tower, Dublin by Shay Cleary Architects
Cork Civic Offices by ABK Architects
Cultúrlann Uí Chanáin, Derry  by O'Donnell + Tuomey Architects
Department of Finance, Dublin by Grafton Architects
Sean O’Casey Community Centre, Dublin by O'Donnell + Tuomey Architects
The National Opera House, Wexford by Keith Williams Architects with OPW
Universita Luigi Bocconi, Milan by Grafton Architects
Elm Park, Dublin by Bucholz McEvoy Architects

The Jury for RIAI Gold Medal 2007-2009 were:
Michael McGarry FRIAI, Queen’s University Belfast, McGarry Ní Éanaigh Architects, Dublin (Chairperson)
Alison Brooks RIBA, Alison Brooks Architects, London
Louise Cotter FRIAI, Carr Cotter & Naessens, Cork
Tom Maher MRIAI, ArchitectsTM, Dublin
Seán O’Laoire FRIAI, Past President RIAI, Dublin
Michael Pike, MRIAI, GKMP Architects, Dublin
Simon Wall MRIAI, Mayo County Council, Westport

For media interviews, images or further information, please contact:
Anna Kavanagh, Drury|Porter Novelli, 087 692 9458 / anna.kavanagh@drurypn.ie
Grace Cooney, Drury|Porter Novelli, 086 153 6886 / grace.cooney@drurypn.ie

About the RIAI
Founded in 1839, the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland supports and regulates the architectural profession and promotes the value that architecture brings to society for everyone’s benefit.  For more information, please visit www.riai.ie or follow the RIAI on Twitter: @RIAIonline

Further information

RIAI Gold Medal 2007-2009: Universita Luigi Bocconi, Milan, ItalyUniversita Luigi Bocconi is a large building containing 1,000 academic offices and a large aula magna – a great hall that is used for special occasions. Despite their scale, the offices ‘float’ above the ground, creating a series of ground-level open courtyards that also help to cool the building in the summer months. Grafton Architects considered the project an opportunity “to make a space at the scale of the city”. Milan is traditionally a bustling merchant’s city and this building is thought of as a large market hall or place of exchange.  Grafton Architects deliberately used a local stone, ceppo, to root the building into the urban fabric of Milan.  The northern edge of the site fronts onto the artery of Viale Bligny, with the clatter of trams, the rush of busses, general traffic and people passing.  It weaves into the mesh of the city and urban life of Milan.  This frontage is a kind of ‘architectural window to Milan’ - a memorable image which demonstrates the important cultural contribution that the Bocconi University plays in the life of the city.  For this reason, the public space of the aula magna occupies this frontage, asserting a symbolic presence and a register of the prestigious status of the University. Size: 45,000m2 (65,000m2 including parking and technical areas)

Highly Commended: The Sean O’Casey Community Centre, East Wall, Dublin

The Sean O’Casey Community Centre provides social resources and civic representation for the community of the East Wall, including a theatre, day-care, crèche, educational and recreational facilities.  East Wall is a place apart, contained within city-scale infrastructural boundaries. Circumscribed by the curved lines of 19th century railway tracks and the straight line of the 18th century sea wall, it is offset from the Georgian grid parallel with the river Liffey. Built on reclaimed land, the site for the project is on the cleared ground of a former school building, appropriated in recent years for community welfare and sports facilities. It sits within the low-rise density of the neighbourhood of two-storey terraced housing.  The project accommodates the energies of existing community activities within a new building, a place apart integrated within the larger consistency, a knot in the grain of the given pattern. Four separately functioning blocks emerge from a single-storey plinth, which is cut out to form four courtyard gardens, which connect the different social activities of the centre, connecting old with young and relating passive and active recreations. Three sizes of circular windows and roof-lights perforate the outer corrugated concrete shell: Small portholes at eye-level, middle size windows at desk-level and larger openings at body-scale provide points of communication between the world within and the larger world outside the containment of the courtyard complex. Childcare, day-care, sports and drama facilities are the functional components of the composition. Size: 2,100m2

Categories: Architecture | Press Releases | RIAI Press Release

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