Irish architects awarded UCD’s highest honour

Grafton Architects founders receive Ulysses medal for ‘outstanding global contribution’

Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara, founders, of Grafton Architects were recognised for their outstanding global contribution at an event at the university on Friday afternoon. Photograph: Marc O’Sullivan

Two of UCD Architectures Adjunct Professors and renowned Irish architects have been awarded UCD’s highest honour, the Ulysses Medal.

Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara, founders, of Grafton Architects were recognised for their outstanding global contribution at an event at the university on Friday afternoon.

The UCD Ulysses Medal is the highest honour that the university can bestow. It was inaugurated in 2005, as part of the university’s sesquicentennial celebrations, to highlight the ‘creative brilliance’ of UCD alumnus James Joyce. Previous recipients of the UCD Ulysses Medal include former US President Bill Clinton, Professor Noam Chomsky, Professor Axel Honneth and former Irish President Mary McAleese.

Earlier this year, Yvonne and Shelley were appointed by Paolo Barrata, President of La Biennale, to be the Curators of the Venice Architecture Biennale in 2018 and won the RIBA International Prize for their design of the Universidad de Ingeniería y Tecnologia (UTEC) building in Lima, Peru.

They were also awarded the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland (RIAI) gold medal in 2015 for architecture 2007-2009 for its design of Bocconi University in Milan, Italy.

The RIAI gold medal is Ireland’s top accolade for architecture. The project must be completed within a defined three-year period and the medal is awarded several years after completion so that the success of the building can be confirmed by the passage of time.

Yvonne and Shelley both graduated from UCD with a BArch in 1974.