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President Michael D. Higgins Congratulates Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara of Grafton Architects on Winning the Pritzker Architecture Prize 2020
University Campus UTEC Lima. Photo courtesy of Iwan BaanUniversity Campus UTEC Lima. Photo courtesy of Iwan Baan
President Michael D. Higgins has sent his congratulations to Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara of Grafton Architects, on winning the Pritzker Architecture Prize 2020.
The Pritzker Architecture Prize is awarded annually, to honour a living architect or architects whose built work demonstrates a combination of those qualities of talent, vision, and commitment, which has produced consistent and significant contributions to humanity and the built environment through the art of architecture. The international prize was established by the Pritzker family of Chicago through their Hyatt Foundation in 1979. It is often referred to as “architecture’s Nobel” and “the profession’s highest honor.”
Yvonne and Shelley, are just the fourth and fifth women to win the prize in its 41-year history. Together they co-founded Grafton Architects in 1978 after graduating from University College Dublin in 1974. Under the pair's leadership, the practice quickly gained recognition for award-winning education projects and expanded in 1992 with the arrival of directors Gerard Carty and Philippe O’Sullivan. Grafton architects have also won this year’s RIBA gold medal along with the RIAI Gandon Medal.
RIAI President Ciaran O'Connor said: “Yvonne and Shelley are thoroughly deserving winners of the Pritzker Architecture Prize 2020. The pair's influence on architecture stretches across the globe. They are an inspiration and wonderful role models who continue to show us the importance of architecture and how it makes the world a better place. In more than forty years of activity, the firm’s scale and scope is extraordinary from small residences in rural areas to substantial university projects in urban centres, all while placing an emphasis on teaching and education to the next generation. The Pritzker Architecture Prize is further recognition of the high quality work done by the Grafton Architects studio. It is important that we acknowledge Yvonne and Shelley for their commitment and contribution to the discipline of architecture.”
Farrell and McNamara are the 47th and 48th Laureates of the Pritzker Prize, and the first two recipients from Ireland. The only other Irish recipient is Kevin Roche who received the Pritzker Prize in 1982 but practiced in the US.
President Michael D. Higgins message for the 2020 laureates, Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara of Grafton Architects
“May I send my warmest congratulations to Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara of Grafton Architects on their wonderful achievement in winning the prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize.
As laureates of the Pritzker Prize, you have been accorded the highest accolade within your profession, having joined an illustrious list of practitioners of your craft, fellow Pritzker Laureates, who with you now among them, have made such significant architectural contributions.
I congratulate you both. Tréaslaím libh beirt.
Architecture at its best, and particularly when it takes upon itself the social responsibility of the inclusion and flourishing of our citizens, draws on both art and science. To achieve its best, as a multifaceted discipline drawing on so many fields of human endeavour, it seeks to attain a balanced integration of both art and science. Architecture is a reflection of how we imagine ourselves, how we present ourselves across the earth’s landscape, and, like other expressive mediums, it changes with styles, technologies and cultural expressions.
We have examples of wonderful architecture around us, but we also must admit to examples where developments have seemed to jar with wider societal, imaginative and inclusive objectives that might enable us all to flourish. Architects thus carry with them a responsibility, but also the joy, of contributing to how we conduct ourselves on this fragile planet.
I do know and appreciate that a body of skilled and thoughtful women and men, and Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara are the joint fourth and fifth women to receive this prize, Pritzker Laureates have demonstrated the skills and knowledge of how to be instruments of positive change towards a sustainable future, through recognising and embracing the challenges we are all confronted with, by climate change, biodiversity loss and the increasingly acute scourge of urban homelessness, exclusion and social isolation, the deepening of inequality and loss of social cohesion.
As practitioners and teachers, you have much to impart to emerging women and men aspiring to excel in a profession that can have such a profound impact on the wellbeing of our societies.
While we all would have preferred for this award ceremony to proceed in the usual manner, COVID-19 made that impossible. However, not defeated but with resilience, let it not dampen our spirits or our joy in sharing together this wonderful event that has been arranged by the Pritzker Foundation. The virtual ceremony after all provides an opportunity for us all to celebrate with you and to share in your great achievement and the deserved recognition that you have been given.
Shelley and Yvonne, déanaim comhghairdeas libh.
Mar Uachtarán na hÉireann, as President of Ireland, I congratulate you both, and I wish you both continued success.
To watch the full ceremony, please visit pritzkerprize.com.