Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara - Grafton Architects - Pritzker Prize 2020

What makes Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara Pritzker Prize 2020 Winners?

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Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara - Grafton Architects - Pritzker Prize 2020

Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara who co-founded Grafton Architects, in , Ireland have been selected as the 2020 Laureates.



The jury felt that 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 . 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 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 while responding to local needs. 


The architects have an understanding of how to complex sections of buildings in such a way that views connect deep interior spaces with the larger exterior realm and allow natural light to penetrate and animate spaces deep inside a .



Let us have a look at some of the exemplary works of the winning team – Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara that truly make them the deserving candidates of the prize.


University Campus UTEC Lima

University Campus, Lima Peru.

Pritzker Prize 2020 - University Campus -UTEC-Lima-Grafton-2036_670

Lima’s location along the Pacific Ocean is quite unique. The cliffs that act as boundary between the sea and city make it further interesting. Also there is a green valley that connects the site with the sea. This is what inspired the whole concept of this project.


The UTEC campus project is conceived as a “new cliff , along the sea boundary acting as an extension of the natural cliffs. The northern periphery of the campus act as facade of the campus, that overlooks the network of roads and visible from the moving traffic there.


In order to encourage cultural interaction with public, the architects planned an array of special rooms – , conference rooms, the auditorium etc at the base of the new cliff, along the northern periphery. While the north face acts a cliff, facing the city, the south face cascades as a series of gardens.


Overall the campus is planned to harness the unique location of the city alongside the sea and structured in a manner that promotes more social interaction.


Client UTEC- Universidad de Ingeniería & Tecnologia
Size 35,000 m2
Date Completed 2015
Location Lima, Peru


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Parnell Square Cultural Quarter, Dublin

Dublin City Library, Cultural Building and Public Space

Parnell Square Cultural Quarter

The project was commissioned by Dublin City Council in order to enhance the cultural vibrancy of Dublin. The vision for the City Library is to create a place where people can meet, participate, learn and create. It was conceived as more than just a library. It will also have dedicated spaces for reading, listening, playing, thinking, researching etc. Spread of 11,500 sqm, the Library will house an auditorium, music hub, education centre, intercultural centre and retail zones.


The City Library will be built alongside existing Dublin City Gallery, at the heart of this dynamic cultural quarter at Parnell Square and will further enhance the city reputation as a leading European cultural centre.

Client Dublin City Council
Size 11,500 m2
Date Ongoing (Planning 2019)
Location Dublin, Ireland
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London School of Economics

The Marshall Building LSE, 44 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London
(Under Construction)

Pritzker Prize 2020 – The Marshall Building LSE, London -View-from-LIF-adjacent-to-New-Academic-Building-Low-Res_-Crop_670

The site of The Marshall Building sits on the boundary of Lincoln’s Inn Fields, the largest public square in London. This pace is surrounded by diverse hubs – from theatres to lawyers’ world. So the challenge was to make an intervention along the boundary of this important public space and bring these diverse worlds together.


As the building will contain the Marshall Institute of Philanthropy and Social Entrepreneurship, the ethos of the building and the spaces should represent a vision of diversity, openness, inclusiveness, and a ‘love of humanity.


So the team planned that Lincoln’s Inn Fields will act as a gateway to the campus of LSE and the campus students will use this gateway to access the square.


The front face though open, will still welcome visitors to the Paul Marshall Institute in a certain formal manner. But once the students are out of the campus, they will be invited to a more informal world where people gather and interact.


Client London School of Economics
Size 17,017 m2
Status Stage 4


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Solstice Arts Centre, Navan

Co.Meath, Ireland


Pritzker Prize 2020 – Solstice Arts Centre, Navan, Ireland 3


The site for this project is a historic market centre of Navan, but now it is no more than a void used mainly for car parking. What makes this site difficult is the sloping ground. So the worked the ground to make some slow space around which the ‘fast’ trafficked space’ exists.


It was initially planned as a courthouse on top of a theatre i.e. a private space at the top of a public space. But the brief changed during construction. The courtroom was to be used for theatre activities when courts were not in session. This presented a unique challenge but the result is a quiet contemplative space.


The 320 seats theatre has a contoured floor, designed to generate a sense of intimacy between the audience and the stage actors. Ample provision is kept for natural light through windows and to give allow the visitor a view into the theatre on entry to the building.


The serpentine foyer wall wraps around the theatre is designed like a ‘curtain’ with varying levels of opacity and transparency, revealing the activity behind, but not fully, attracting attention

Client Solstice Arts Centre
Contractor Bennett Construction
Size 1780 m2
Location Navan, Co. Meath,Ireland
Date 2007


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