The co-founders of Grafton Architects, Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara, have won the 2020 Pritzker Prize, adding another award to their bursting trophy cabinet
The Pritzker jury awarded them the prize for their ‘unceasing commitment to excellence’, the integrity of their design approach and for being ‘pioneers’ in a male-dominated profession.
Farrell, 69, and McNamara, 68, who founded Grafton Architects in Dublin in 1978, become the first Irish winners of the prestigious international accolade which comes with a sum of $100,000 (£72,000).
Among the practice’s most famous schemes are University of Limerick Medical School, which was shortlisted for the RIBA Stirling Prize in 2013, and the ‘vertical campus’ building for Lima’s specialist engineering university (UTEC) in Peru, which scooped the inaugural RIBA International Prize in 2016.
Farrell and McNamara have also taught around the world while, in 2018, they curated the Venice Architecture Biennale, with the theme of ‘Freespace’ emphasising humanity and generosity.
It has been an extraordinary 12 months for the duo, who at the end of last year won the RIBA Gold Medal 2020 for their practice, the UK’s highest honour for architecture.
In response to winning the Pritzker prize, Farrell said: ‘Architecture could be described as one of the most complex and important cultural activities on the planet. To be an architect is an enormous privilege. To win this prize is a wonderful endorsement of our belief in architecture. Thank you for this great honour.’
Grafton’s University Campus UTEC Lima, Lima, Peru
The Pritzker jury praised the way in which projects like North King Street Housing in Dublin are ‘good neighbours’ that seek to make a city work better as well as the big impact of small details such as the ‘crafted skin’ façade on the Urban Institute of Ireland, also in Dublin.
The architects were also held up for their skill across different scales—from large institutional buildings such as UTEC in Lima and the School of Economics Building at Universita Luigi Bocconito to a house of little more than 100m².
‘Without grand or frivolous gestures, they have managed to create buildings that are monumental institutional presences when appropriate,’ the jury said, ‘but even so they are zoned and detailed in such a way as to produce more intimate spaces that create community within.’
Without grand or frivolous gestures, they have managed to create buildings that are monumental institutional presences
The citation added: ‘With a profound understanding of place gained through their research, keen powers of observation, open and ever-curious explorations and deep respect for culture and context, Farrell and McNamara are able to make their buildings respond to a setting and city most appropriately, while still being fresh and modern.
‘Pioneers in a field that has traditionally been and still is a male-dominated profession, they are also beacons to others as they forge their exemplary professional path.’
Grafton’s new £50 million ‘Town House’ building for Kingston University in London completed at the end of last year.
Yvonne and shelley smiling ©grafton
2020 Yvonne Farrell (69) and Shelley McNamara (68), Ireland
2019 Arata Isozaki (87), Japan
2018 Balkrishna Vithaldas Doshi (90), India
2017 Rafael Aranda (55) Carme Pigem (54) and Ramon Vilalta (56) of RCR Arquitectes, Spain
2016 Alejandro Aravena (48), Chile
2015 Frei Otto (89), Germany
2014 Shigeru Ban (56), Japan
2013 Toyo Ito (71), Japan
2012 Wang Shu (48), China
2011 Eduardo Souto de Moura (58), Portugal
2010 Kazuyo Sejima (54) and Ryue Nishizawa (44), Japan
2009 Peter Zumthor (65), Switzerland
2008 Jean Nouvel (62), France
2007 Richard Rogers (73), UK
2006 Paulo Mendes da Rocha (77), Brazil
2005 Thom Mayne (61), USA
2004 Zaha Hadid (53), UK
2003 Jorn Utzon (84), Denmark
2002 Glenn Murcutt (66), Australia
2001 Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron (51), Switzerland
2000 Rem Koolhaas (56), Netherlands
1999 Norman Foster (63), UK
1998 Renzo Piano (60), Italy
1997 Sverre Fehn (72), Norway
1996 Rafael Moneo (58), Spain
1995 Tadao Ando (53), Japan
1994 Christian de Portzamparc (50), France
1993 Fumihiko Maki (65), Japan
1992 Alvaro Siza (57), Portugal
1991 Robert Venturi (65), USA
1990 Aldo Rossi, (59), Italy
1989 Frank Gehry (60), USA
=1988 Oscar Niemeyer (81), Brazil
=1988 Gordon Bunshaft (79), USA
1987 Kenzo Tange (73), Japan
1986 Gottfried Bohm (66), Germany
1985 Hans Hollein (51), Austria
1984 Richard Meier (49), USA
1983 IM Pei (66), China
1982 Kevin Roche (60), USA
1981 James Stirling (55), UK
1980 Luis Barragan (78), Mexico
1979 Philip Johnson (73), USA