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Farrell & McNamara Wins the 2020 Pritzker Prize


Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara of Dublin, Ireland, have been selected as the 2020 Pritzker Prize Laureates – architecture’s highest honour award. The winners were announced by Tom Pritzker, Chairman of The Hyatt Foundation – the sponsors of the awards.

Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara
Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara

Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara are both graduates of UCD, are Fellows of the RIAI, are International Honorary Fellows of the RIBA and are elected members of Aosdána, the eminent Irish Art organisation. Both are teachers at the School of Architecture at University College Dublin from 1976 to 2002 and appointed adjunct Professors in 2015.

Since the 1970s, Farrell and McNamara have been creating the spaces that are at once respectful and new, honouring history while demonstrating a mastery of the urban environment and craft of construction. Balancing strength and delicacy, and upholding a reverence of site-specific contexts, their academic, civic and cultural institutions, as well as housing developments, resulting in modern and impactful works that never repeat or imitate, but are decided of their architectural voice. Grafton Architects was established by them in 1978.

After winning the prize, Farrell says, “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”.

University Campus UTEC Lima
University Campus UTEC Lima

The Jury states, for their integrity in their approach to both their buildings, as well as the way they conduct their practice, their belief in collaboration, their generosity towards their colleagues, especially as evidenced in such events as the 2018 Venice Biennale, their unceasing commitment to excellence in architecture, their responsible attitude toward the environment, their ability to be cosmopolitan while embracing the uniqueness of each place in which they work, for all these reasons and more, Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara are awarded the 2020 Pritzker Architecture Prize.

Their native Ireland, an island replete with mountains and cliffs, informs their acute sensitivities to geography, changing climates and nature in each of their sites. Their buildings consistently remain purposefully rich, yet modest, enhancing cities and lending to sustainability while responding to local needs. Some of their projects are: a residential complex in Dublin called North King Street Housing (2000), Urban Institute of Ireland (2002), University Campus UTEC Lima (Lima, Peru 2015), Offices for the Department of Finance (Dublin, Ireland 2009), Toulouse University, Bocconi University at Italy, etc.

Toulouse University

“The collaboration between Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara represents a veritable inter connectedness between equal counterparts,” states Pritzker. Farrell and McNamara are the 47th and 48th Laureates of the Pritzker Prize and the first two recipients from Ireland.

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