Shelley McNamara and Yvonne Farrell

Shelley McNamara and Yvonne Farrell

Practice: Grafton Architects
Established: 1978
City: Dublin
Country: Ireland
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Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara graduated from the School of Architecture in UCD in 1974, and began teaching there in 1976. Both lecture and teach internationally.
They are co-founders of Grafton Architects, established in 1978- and founder members of Group '91 Architects, winners of the international competition for the regeneration of Temple Bar in Dublin. Co-directors Gerard Carty and Philippe O'Sullivan joined the practice in 1993 and 1992 respectively.
Grafton Architects won the World Building of the Year Award in 2008 and have won many other awards, including the AAI Downes Medal. Their work has been exhibited and published widely.

Grafton Architects

View from Viale Bligny
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New University Building, Universita Luigi Bocconi, Milan

Grafton Architects won first prize in an international competition for this prestigious project. The brief for more than 45,000 square metres included offices, conference and educational facilities. Large-scale concrete structure supports the office and research facilities for 1000 teachers, creating a matrix of suspended courtyards. The cantilevered Aula Magna for 1000 people frames the street life of Milan.

View from Viale Bligny
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How does diversity of people reveal itself at work? In the office, on site, in teaching, we are aware that to make architecture requires people who can 'fold in' layers of experience, intelligence and skills.
We know that each of us experiences and views life from different perspectives. What we in Grafton Architects value might be called: a Community of Making.
What do you find most rewarding in your area of work? As architects, we inhabit the worlds of both the real and the imagined. The real, concrete world is made up of peoples' lives with needs and places with distinctive culture and feeling, landscapes, light, materials. The imagined world is the new world of possibility that we 'think up', create, discover, invent. What we imagine can become real! This translation from the imagined world into the real world makes architecture an amazing profession - meaningful as well as useful.
How have your clients and projects benefited from your involvement? We think of this question the other way around: it is we who benefit from clients entrusting us with their needs, their hopes. Each project given to us is an opportunity to be part of the historic continuum of building. We love the task of spending time evaluating a new brief, a new place, its territory, culture, form, formation, and character. Buildings are the mirrors of the values of society, telling the story of lives in built form.