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Message to Grafton Architects on the Award of the Pritzker Architecture Prize

6th October, 2020

May I send my warmest congratulations to Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara of Grafton Architects on their wonderful achievement in winning the prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize.

As laureates of the Pritzker Prize, you have been accorded the highest accolade within your profession, having joined an illustrious list of practitioners of your craft, fellow Pritzker Laureates, who with you now among them, have made such significant architectural contributions.

I congratulate you both. Tréaslaím libh beirt.

Architecture at its best, and particularly when it takes upon itself the social responsibility of the inclusion and flourishing of our citizens, draws on both art and science. To achieve its best, as a multifaceted discipline drawing on so many fields of human endeavour, it seeks to attain a balanced integration of both art and science. Architecture is a reflection of how we imagine ourselves, how we present ourselves across the earth’s landscape, and, like other expressive mediums, it changes with styles, technologies and cultural expressions.

We have examples of wonderful architecture around us, but we also must admit to examples where developments have seemed to jar with wider societal, imaginative and inclusive objectives that might enable us all to flourish. Architects thus carry with them a responsibility, but also the joy, of contributing to how we conduct ourselves on this fragile planet.

I do know and appreciate that a body of skilled and thoughtful women and men, and Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara are the joint fourth and fifth women to receive this prize, Pritzker Laureates have demonstrated the skills and knowledge of how to be instruments of positive change towards a sustainable future, through recognising and embracing the challenges we are all confronted with, by climate change, biodiversity loss and the increasingly acute scourge of urban homelessness, exclusion and social isolation, the deepening of inequality and loss of social cohesion. 

As practitioners and teachers, you have much to impart to emerging women and men aspiring to excel in a profession that can have such a profound impact on the wellbeing of our societies.

While we all would have preferred for this award ceremony to proceed in the usual manner, COVID-19 made that impossible.  However, not defeated but with resilience, let it not dampen our spirits or our joy in sharing together this wonderful event that has been arranged by the Pritzker Foundation. The virtual ceremony after all provides an opportunity for us all to celebrate with you and to share in your great achievement and the deserved recognition that you have been given.

Shelley and Yvonne, déanaim comhghairdeas libh.  

Mar Uachtarán na hÉireann, as President of Ireland, I congratulate you both, and I wish you both continued success.

Beir beannacht.