Advertisement

Dublin architects are first two women to share Pritzker prize

Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara, co-founders of Grafton Architects in Dublin, Ireland, won the 2020 Pritzker Architecture Prize. File Photo courtesy of the Alice Clancy
1 of 2 | Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara, co-founders of Grafton Architects in Dublin, Ireland, won the 2020 Pritzker Architecture Prize. File Photo courtesy of the Alice Clancy

March 3 (UPI) -- For the first time in the Pritzker Architecture Prize's four-decade history, the organization handed out the industry's most prestigious award to two women Tuesday.

The organization named Irish architects Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara as 2020's winners of what's considered to be the Nobel prize of architecture. They co-founded Grafton Architects in Dublin in the 1978.

Advertisement

"Architecture could be described as one of the most complex and important cultural activities on the planet," Farrell said. "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."

Farrell and McNamara are known for their designs of educational buildings, including the University Campus UTEC Lima in Peru; the Universite Toulouse 1 Capitole, School of Economics in France; and the Universita Luigi Bocconi in Milan, Italy.

Often relying on concrete and stone in their structures, the two are known for working in urban spaces and using a modern approach while "honoring history," a news release announcing the win said.

"The collaboration between Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara represents a veritable interconnectedness between equal counterparts," said Tom Pritzker, chairman of The Hyatt Foundation, which sponsors the award. "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."

Advertisement

In their home country, Farrell and McNamara designed North King Street Housing and the offices for the Department of Finance, the latter of which used local limestone in thick panels in order to convey a sense of strength.

As winners of the Pritzker prize, the two will receive $100,000 and a bronze medallion.

"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. 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," McNamara said. "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."

Latest Headlines