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Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara direct the 2018 Venice Biennale

The Irish duo Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara, directors of Grafton Architects, have been chosen by the board of Venice Biennale to curate the 16th International Architecture Exhibition in 2018. Farrell and McNamara graduated from University College Dublin (UCD) in 1974, and they co-founded Grafton Architects, based in Dublin, in 1978. They are famous for their designs of educational buildings inside and outside Dublin. They have won many competitions and highly esteemed prizes. Their building for Bocconi University in Milan won them the World Building of the Year Award in 2008. They were finalists for the Sterling Prize for the University of Limerick Medical School and Student Accommodation, in Ireland; the project which won the inaugural RIBA International Award 2016. They were, also, granted the Jane Drew Award in 2015 and Irish Design Institute President’s Award in 2016. That is in addition to receiving the Architectural Association of Ireland’s awards several times.

Besides practice, the two architects are, also, celebrated educators. They are adjunct professors in UCD. They were appointed as full professors in the Swiss school of architecture Accademia di Architettura di Mendrisio. They have, also, taught and given public lectures in Ireland, particularly, Europe, generally, and the US.

Farrell and McNamara’s history with the Venice Biennale goes back to 2002 when their firm was represented for the first time in the Architecture Exhibition. Their second participation in the Biennale was in 2012. They presented their UETC University campus in Lima, and they were awarded the Silver Lion. Their third participation was in the last Biennale in 2016, under the title “The Physics of Culture.”
The new directors of Venice Biennale’s Architecture Exhibition are expected to follow-up with former director Alejandro Aravena’s critically acclaimed “Reporting from the Front” in 2016, but from a different point of view. Paolo Baratta, chairman of the Venice Biennale Board, explains Farrell and McNamara’s role by saying:

“The Exhibition curated by Alejandro Aravena offered visitors a critical overview of the worldwide evolution of architecture and underlined how important it is that a qualified demand on the part of individuals and communities be met by an equally effective response, thereby confirming that architecture is one of civil society’s instruments for organizing the space in which it lives and works. Along these lines, Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara will continue to address the same theme but from the point of view of the quality of the public and private space, of urban space, of the territory and of the landscape as the main ends of architecture. The curators, who are well-known for the refinement of their work, are also known for their intense didactic activity and their ability to involve and fascinate new generations.”

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