Professor Sheila O’Donnell becomes first Irish architect inducted into American Academy of Arts and Letters

 

UCD Professor Sheila O’Donnell is to become the first Irish architect to be inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Professor O'Donnell, who is a graduate of and faculty member at the UCD School of Architecture, will be one of five foreign honorary members welcomed into the 120-year-old body in May.

Founded in 1898 as a life-long society for the United States’ leading architects, artists, composers, and writers, the American Academy of Arts and Letters elects new members into its 250 strong assembly only as current members pass away.

The Academy has 75 Foreign Honorary Members, of which only three are Irish.

Acclaimed novelist and University College Dublin alumni Colm Tóibín is among its membership, as are fellow Irish writers John Banville and Edna O’Brien.

Professor O'Donnell will formally join the Academy at a ceremony held at the society’s main building in upper Manhattan, New York, where composer David Del Tredici will give the keynote address.

Others elected this year as Foreign Honorary Members include the British novelist Rachel Cusk and the Brazilian photographer Sebastiao Salgado.

Membership of the American Academy of Arts and Letters has over the past century and beyond included William Merritt Chase, Childe Hassam, Julia Ward Howe, Henry James, Edward MacDowell, Theodore Roosevelt, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, John Singer Sargent, Mark Twain, and Edith Wharton.

A foundering director of Irish architectural firm O’Donnell + Tuomey, alongside fellow UCD alumni Professor John Tuomey, Professor O'Donnell has won a number of international awards, including a Royal Gold Medal - the world's most prestigious architecture award.

In 2014 she and Professor Tuomey were presented with the Medal in recognition for having a “significant influence on the advancement of architecture" across the world.

By: David Kearns, Digital Journalist / Media Officer, UCD University Relations