2020 Royal Gold Medal to Grafton Architects

John Hill
2. October 2019
Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara (Photo: Andrea Avezzu)

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has announced that Dublin's Grafton Architects, led by Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara, is the 2020 recipient of the Royal Gold Medal.

Each year the Royal Gold Medal is approved by Her Majesty The Queen and given to an architect or group of architects who have had "a significant influence either directly or indirectly on the advancement of architecture." Recognizing a lifetime's work, the Royal Gold Medal is RIBA's highest honor. Grafton Architects will receive the Royal Gold Medal at a special ceremony in early 2020.

UTEC - Universidad de Ingeneria Y Technologia by Grafton Architects with Shell Arquitectos (Photo: Iwan Baan)

Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara founded Grafton Architects in 1978, taking the name of their first office's location on Grafton Street in central Dublin. In 1992 they were joined as directors by Gerard Carty and Philippe O’Sullivan. In 2018 Farrell and McNamara curated the Venice Architecture Biennale, which they themed "Freespace."

RIBA's announcement of the Royal Gold Medal draws attention to Grafton Architects' educational projects, particularly UTEC (Universidad de Ingeneria Y Technologia) in Lima, Peru, winner of the inaugural RIBA International Prize in 2016, and Limerick Medical School, which was shortlisted in 2013 for the RIBA Stirling Prize. Many people learned about Grafton Architects when they won World Building of the Year at the inaugural World Architecture Festival in 2008 for Universita Luigi Bocconi in Milan.

UTEC - Universidad de Ingeneria Y Technologia by Grafton Architects with Shell Arquitectos (Photo: Iwan Baan)
A statement by Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara upon hearing they are recipients of the 2020 Royal Gold Medal:

Like architects around the world, everyone in Grafton Architects works hard to give each project the attention needed to hopefully enrich people’s lives. For us, architecture is an optimistic profession, with the opportunity to anticipate future realities. It is of the highest cultural importance because it is the built enclosure of human lives. It translates people’s needs and dreams into built form, into the silent language of space.

We share this honor with all our clients, design teams, contractors and colleagues – past and current – working together, we translate ideas into reality.

The news that Grafton Architects are to receive the RIBA 2020 Royal Gold Medal makes this a very special and happy moment in our lives. A sincere "Thank you" to all those involved in making it possible!

A so-called Freespace at the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale that was helmed by Farrell and McNamara (Photo: John Hill/World-Architects)
Recent recipients of the RIBA Royal Gold Medal:

Related articles

Featured Project

Henning Larsen

French International School

Other articles in this category