Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara first met during their time as students at the School of Architecture of the University of Dublin (UCD). Upon graduating in 1976, they were each offered the unique opportunity to teach at UCD, where they continued to educate until 2006, and were appointed as adjunct professors in 2015. “Teaching for us has always been a parallel reality,” comments Farrell. “And it’s a way of trying to distill our experience and gift it to other generations coming along so that they actually play a role in the growing of that culture. So it’s a two way thing, we learn from students and hopefully students learn from us.”
In 1978 they founded Grafton Architects, named after the street of their original office. Significant projects include: North King Street Housing (Dublin, Ireland 2000); Urban Institute of Ireland, University College Dublin (Dublin, Ireland 2002); Solstice Arts Centre (Navan, Ireland 2007); Loreto Community School (Milford, Ireland 2006); the new Bocconi University building in Milan (Italy, 2008); and the Medical School, University of Limerick (Limerick, Ireland 2012).
Other international projects have followed, such as the UTEC Lima university campus (Lima, Peru 2015), winner of the inaugural RIBA International Prize in 2016 of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), Institut Mines Télécom (Paris, France 2019) and the Université Toulouse 1 Capitole, School of Economics (Toulouse, France 2019), were recently completed.
Grafton Architects was the recipient of the Silver Lion Award at the Venice Biennale in 2012 for the exhibition “Architecture as New Geography.” Farrell and McNamara were appointed as the 2018 co-curators for the 16th International Architecture Exhibition of the Venice Biennale, with the theme FreeSpace.