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Ireland Duo Tapped for 2020 Pritzker Prize

Thursday, March 5, 2020

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Earlier this week, Dublin, Ireland-based duo Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara were selected as the 2020 Pritzker Prize Laureates.

Tom Pritzker, Chairman of The Hyatt Foundation, which sponsors the award that is known internationally as architecture’s highest honor, made the announcement saying, “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 honor.”

The pair co-founded Grafton Architects in 1978 and have completed buildings around the world.

They won the World Building of the Year award in 2008 for the Universita Luigi Bocconi, in Milan; the RIBA International Prize for its University Campus UTEC Lima building, in Peru; they were  shortlisted for the 2013 Stirling Prize for the campus for the University of Limerick Medical School and they were named the 2020 RIBA Royal Gold Medal for Architecture winners at the end of last year.

The Hyatt Foundation

Earlier this week, Dublin, Ireland-based duo Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara were selected as the 2020 Pritzker Prize Laureates.

“Within the ethos of a practice such as ours, we have so often struggled to find space for the implementation of such values as humanism, craft, generosity, and cultural connection with each place and context within which we work,” said McNamara.

“It is therefore extremely gratifying that this recognition is bestowed upon us and our practice and upon the body of work we have managed to produce over a long number of years. It is also a wonderful recognition of the ambition and vision of the clients who commissioned us and enabled us to bring our buildings to fruition.”

The Pritzker announcement noted how the architects have worked with the landscape of their native Ireland, pointing to the offices for the Department of Finance as an example and “the selection of local limestone used in thick panels grants strength to the building. Windows recessed or flush with the facade have grills below them to circulate fresh air throughout the building. Exposures on all sides of the building, atypical of the architecture in this city, offer panoramic views.”

The announcement also applauded the duo’s continuous use of dialogue between the internal and external, the mingling of public and private spaces and the attention to detail in materials.

“The collaboration between Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara represents a veritable interconnectedness between equal counterparts,” states Pritzker. “They demonstrate incredible strength in their architecture, show deep relation to the local situation in all regards, establish different responses to each commission while maintaining the honesty of their work, and exceed the requirements of the field through responsibility and community.”

This award marks the first time two women have won the Pritzker. They are, however, the fourth and fifth women to be named winners, following Zaha Hadid, who was the sole winner in 2004, Kazuyo Sejima, who won alongside Ryue Nishizawa in 2010, and Carme Pigem, who won alongside Rafael Aranda and Ramón Vilalta in 2017.

“Architecture is a framework for human life,” McNamara added. “It anchors us and connects us to the world in a way which possibly no other space-making discipline can.” Farrell continues, “At the core of our practice is a real belief that architecture matters. It is a cultural spatial phenomenon that people invent.”


Tagged categories: Architects; Architecture; Asia Pacific; Awards and honors; Color + Design; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); Latin America; North America; Pritzker Architecture Prize; Z-Continents

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