Posted Thursday 3 October 2019
The architectural practice responsible for designing the University's landmark Town House building has been announced winner of the United Kingdom's highest honour for architecture - the 2020 RIBA Royal Gold Medal.
Dublin-based Grafton Architects have received the award, which is approved personally by the Queen, in recognition of their significant influence on the advancement of architecture. Renowned internationally for what RIBA describes as their people-centred approach, extensive talent and generosity of spirit, Grafton were nominated for the prestigious accolade by a line-up of influential figures from across academia, the arts and architecture.
Announcing the award, RIBA President Alan Jones paid tribute to Grafton as impressive role models, adding that their work, philosophy and ambition were of profound importance, not just in their home country but across the globe. "I am delighted that Grafton Architects will receive the 2020 Royal Gold Medal in recognition of their exceptional qualities. They show us all how architecture, practiced humbly and humanely, can make the world a better place," he added.
"From designing houses in wind-swept rural landscapes to substantial inner-city university projects, from curating and contributing to world class exhibitions to teaching within some of the world's leading schools of architecture, the scale and scope of Grafton Architects' influence is extraordinary. Their extensive talent and generosity of spirit are an inspiration, not only to me and my fellow architects but to all those who have had the pleasure of engaging directly with them and their work.
Coming just a few months before the Town House opens at the Penrhyn Road campus in January next year, news of Grafton's latest accolade has attracted considerable profile for the building. With Town House set to be the first Grafton building completed in the United Kingdom, it has been referenced in a swathe of national and international press coverage, reinforcing the University's commitment to providing its students and the wider borough community with a world class educational facility.
Vice-Chancellor Professor Steven Spier this week accompanied Grafton director Shelley McNamara and co-director Gerard Carty on a tour of the building and introduced them ahead of a presentation in which they shared their vision for the Town House with members of the Higher Education Design Quality Forum. "Grafton Architects' deep-seated commitment to ensuring the building reflects the very essence of our ambition to transform students' lives by advancing knowledge in the most innovative of learning environments was both inspiring and invigorating, demonstrating exactly why they are such worthy recipients of the Royal Gold Medal," he said.
The Town House building is set to transform students' learning experience at the Penrhyn Road campus. Key features will include a multi-floor library, dance studios and an auditorium performance space, a covered courtyard, cafes and a new landscaping scheme across the front of the campus.