CORPUS Magazine
CORPUS Magazine

To be an architect is an enormous privilege

The renowned Pritzker Prize was again awarded in Chicago at the beginning of March. This year the highest international award for architecture went to the two Irish women Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara from Grafton Architects. Our picture gallery provides an insight into their work.

Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara of Dublin, Ireland, have been selected as the 2020 Pritzker Prize Laureates. As architects and educators since the 1970s, Farrell and McNamara create spaces that are at once respectful and new, honoring 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, result in modern and impactful works that never repeat or imitate, but are decidedly of their own architectural voice.

Their buildings consistently remain purposefully rich, yet modest, enhancing cities and lending to sustainability while responding to local needs. The architects are continuously conscious of the dialogue between the internal and external, evidenced by the mingling of public and private spaces, and the meaningful selection and integrity of materials.

The pair established Grafton Architects in 1978 in Dublin, where they continue to practice and reside. In just over forty years, they have completed nearly as many projects, located in Ireland, the United Kingdom, France, Italy and Peru.

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Town House Building, Kingston University

Kingston upon Thames, United Kingdom / 2019

The new facility seeks to bring together the university and the local community and act as the university’s front door and a gateway to Kingston upon Thames. The Town House Building includes a learning resource center, dance studio, covered courtyard and café. The interior of the six-story building is composed of large, interconnected halls and double and triple-height spaces that overlap – physically and visually. 

Architecture could be described as one of the most complex and important cultural acitivities on the planet. To be an architect is an enormous privilege.

Yvonne Farrell, Grafton Architects
2020 Pritzker Prize Laureate

Universita Luigi Bocconi

Milan, Italy / 2008 

Occupying an entire city block, the architects have created a building which feels more like a campus of pavilions and courtyards with a vertical rather than horizontal configuration. The conference halls, lecture theaters, offices, meeting rooms, library and café are designed to house 1,000 professors and students, creating a feeling of community from within and sitting easily in the city that surrounds them. Throughout the building, the generous and diverse open spaces invite spontaneous encounters and exchanges.


Medical School, University of Limerick

Limerick, Ireland / 2012

Located on both sides of the River Shannon, the Medical School at the University of Limerick is part of a continuing northward expansion of the institution. Connected to the existing campus by a pedestrian bridge, the newer facilities include a series of three red brick residences, also designed by the architects, as well as an open public space intended to serve as a new focal point.

The four-story building includes a double-height atrium and a wide, open staircase, allowing occupants to view all levels below and above.

Parnell Square Cultural Quarter, City Library

Dublin, Ireland / under construction

This 8,000m2 building, designed to serve the 1.2 million population that makes up the Greater Dublin Area, is expected to receive 3,000 visitors daily, as the existing nearby Dublin Central Library, which opened in 1986, can no longer support the public’s evolved requirements for learning and sustainability. The library will be housed in six restored four-story-over-basement Georgian houses at 23-28 Parnell Square with two other houses at 20 and 21 Parnell Square. Additionally, there will be a large new build behind.

Université Toulouse 1 Capitole, School of Economics

Toulouse, France / 2019

Located at a turning point of the Canal de Garonne, the site of the new School of Economics is important for the university and the city. In order to provide places of research and education which are pleasurable to work in, the architects have devised a building strategy to maximize natural air, light and ventilation to each space within the building from offices to seminar rooms to terraces.

University Campus UTEC Lima

Lima, Peru / 2015

Situated on a difficult site with a busy motorway to one side and the low-rise urban edge of the city on the other, the University of Technology and Engineering, UTEC Lima, is a vertical and layered building by the cliffs of its city. Larger scale volumes are located close to the ground, with the teaching, administration and teacher office areas staggered at higher levels. At the upper levels near the roof is the library with panoramic views oft he city and the sea.

London School of Economics and Political Science

London, United Kingdom / under construction

Located on the dense urban campus of the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) The Marshall Building will house several business-related academic departments, a performing arts facility, multi-purpose halls, a café and more. The Great Hall, which will be the main point of entry into the building, is a vast public space of about 800 square meters of flexible, civic space intended to be used by hundreds on a daily basis and to provide a perfect setting for large-scale events such as exhibitions, talks, dinners and open days.

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