Famous for working as a team, Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara live and work in Dublin, where they graduated from the School of Architecture of University College and co-founded the firm Grafton Architects in 1977.
The firm were represented at the Biennale Architettura 2002; won the Silver Lion at the Biennale Architettura in 2012, where they presented their Project for the UTEC University campus in Lima, Peru, together with the work of Paulo Mendes da Rocha; they were represented at the Biennale Architettura 2016 under the title “The Physics of Culture”.
Farrell and McNamara have designed and built several schools and architectural works for institutions and universities, mostly in Ireland, including the Dunshaughlin Civic Offices; the Parson's Building, Trinity College, Dublin; the Government Department of Finance for the Office of Public Works in Dublin; a new building for the Università Bocconi in Milan, Italy. They have won many international competitions including the project of the School of Economics of the University of Toulouse; Kingston University Town House; Institute Mines Telecom campus in Saclay, Paris; together with Shaffrey Associates, they have won the new city Library for Dublin competition and have been selected to design a new faculty building for the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) in Holborn, London. On February 20th 2018 they won the gold medal of the RIAI Royal Institute of the Architecture of Ireland for the project of Università Bocconi in Milan.
The firm has been the recipient of the Architectural Association of Ireland's awards many times; in the year 2008, it won the World Building of the Year Award for the design of the new building for the Università Bocconi in Milan; finalist for the Sterling Prize for the University of Limerick Medical School and Student Accommodation; in 2016 UTEC University in Lima, Peru won the inaugural RIBA International Award. They won the Jane Drew Award in 2015 and Irish Design Institute President’s Award in 2016.
Both partners began teaching at the University College of Dublin in 1976, and are currently full Professors of architecture at the Accademia di Mendrisio and Adjunct Professors in UCD. They held the Kenzo Tange Chair at GSD Harvard in 2010 and the Louis Kahn Chair at Yale in 2011. They have taught and lectured widely throughout Europe and in the United States.
The architects have been jury members for many prestigious architectural awards such as the RIBA Stirling Prize in 2008, the Mies Van Der Rohe Prize in 2011 and the RIBA Award in 2012.