2020 Pritzker Architecture Prize



2020 Pritzker Architecture Prize

Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara (photo courtesy of Alice Clancy)

03 March 2020 — Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara of Dublin, Ireland, have been selected as the 2020 Pritzker Prize Laureates, announced Tom Pritzker, Chairman of The Hyatt Foundation, which sponsored the award that is known internationally as architecture’s highest honour.

“Architecture could be described as one of the most complex and important cultural activities on the planet,” remarked Farrell. “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 honour.”

As architects and educators since the 1970s, Farrell and McNamara create spaces that are at once respectful and new, honouring history while demonstrating a mastery of the urban environment and craft of construction.

“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.”

2020 Jury Citation, in part.

“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,” said McNamara. “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.”

“The collaboration between Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara represents a veritable interconnectedness between equal counterparts,” stated Pritzker. “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.”

Farrell and McNamara have mastered proportion to maintain a human scale and achieve intimate environments within tall and vast buildings. “They have tried, with considerable success, to help us all overcome what is likely to evermore become a serious human problem,” explained Justice Stephen Breyer, Jury Chair. “Namely, how do we build housing and workplaces in a world with over half of its population dwelling in urban environments, and many of them who cannot afford luxury?” A contoured theater floor at the Solstice Arts Centre (Navan, Ireland 2007) creates a physical nearness between audience members and performers. The generous placement of open spaces, windows, glass curtain walls and exposed ceilings allows natural light to filter through a passage of rooms, creating impressions of light through large and small spaces, and within the interlocking areas that compose Institut Mines Télécom in Palaiseau (Paris, France 2019).

McNamara stated, “Architecture is a framework for human life. It anchors us and connects us to the world in a way which possibly no other space-making discipline can.” Farrell continued, “At the core of our practice is a real belief that architecture matters. It is a cultural spatial phenomenon that people invent.”

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.

Farrell and McNamara are the 47th and 48th Laureates of the Pritzker Prize, and the first two recipients from Ireland.

For more information, please visit https://www.pritzkerprize.com/media-news.

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