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Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara of Grafton Architects were announced as the 2020 recipients of the prestigious Pritzker Prize, regarded internationally as architecture’s highest honour.
“Architecture could be described as one of the most complex and important cultural activities on the planet,” Farrell commented on receiving notification that they had been named as recipients of this year’s Pritzker prize. “To be an architect is an enormous privilege. To win this prize is a wonderful endorsement of our belief in architecture. It is also a wonderful recognition of the ambition and vision of the clients who commissioned us.”
Dublin-based Farrell and McNamara are the first female duo to win this prestigious award.
Zaha Hadid was the first female recipient in 2004. Irish (U.S. based) architect Kevin Roche was bestowed with the honour in 1982.
The annual Pritzker prize, inaugurated in 1979, honors a living architect or architects whose built ouevre demonstrates a combination of talent, vision and commitment and has produced consistent and significant contributions to humanity and the built environment through the practice of architecture. The award is funded by the Pritzker family and sponsored by the Hyatt Foundation. It is regarded internationally as architecture’s highest honour and is often referred to as the Nobel prize of architecture
The Pritzker jury have said of Farrell and McNamara to have created spaces “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, result in modern and impactful works that never repeat or imitate, but are decidedly of their own architectural voice.”
“They have consistently and unhesitatingly pursued the highest quality of architecture for the specific location in which it was to be built, the functions it would house and especially for the people who would inhabit and use their buildings and spaces. They have an oeuvre that includes numerous educational buildings, housing and cultural and civic institutions . 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.”
“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… 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,” and went on to cite Grafton’s Utec campus in Lima, Peru as “a vertical and cascading building responding to both site and climatic needs, cooled by breezes from the Pacific Ocean.”