The Irish practice saw off competition from 16 other buildings around the world designed by the likes of Zaha Hadid Architects, Snohetta, Coop Himmeb(l)au and Foster + Partners.
The new faculty building was selected by a ‘super jury’ that included Cecil Balmond, Ricky Burdett, Charles Jencks, Süha Özkan and chaired by Robert Stern.
Grafton principal Shelley McNamara said of winning the award: ‘We’re very honoured and absolutely thrilled. I remember winning the competition to actually get the project and that was a really high point, and now obviously this is another one.’
The super jury said it was ‘blown away’ by the building, with Cecil Balmond admiring its ‘effortless with no histrionics’ structural solution.
Chair of the super jury Bob Stern said: ‘We were impressed by the way the building handled its brief. It worked with a city that is very closed in but had that quality as well as being very open.
‘It’s easy to make a success of it as a small project. There were other buildings that were small and had these characteristics, but this was big, major urban project for a major institution.’
The festival in Barcelona was attended by more than 2,000 delegates and included the world’s biggest players in the architecture industry.