Dublin-based architects Sheila O’Donnell and John Tuomey of the firm O’Donnell + Tuomey have been announced as the 2015 winners of the Royal Institute of British Architects’s lifetime achievement award, the Royal Gold Medal. The couple are among the youngest recipients of the prestigious annual award. Previous recipients include Frank Lloyd Wright, George Gilbert Scott, Norman Foster and Frank Gehry.
O’Donnell + Tuomey was founded in 1988, after the husband-and-wife duo returned to Dublin from working in London with the aim “to forge a new Irish architectural identity.” Their work is renowned for its artful mix of red brick and wood. Recent projects include Belfast’s Lyric Theatre and the LSE student center in London, a potential candidate for this year’s RIBA Stirling Prize. The practice has been shortlisted for the Stirling Prize a record five times, though they have not yet won.
2014 Royal Gold Medal recipient, architectural historian and critic Joseph Rykwert, said of O’Donnell and Tuomey’s award: “They are vitally concerned with building in the public realm, something so neglected today, and that is perhaps their greatest strength. They have at no point rested on their laurels – nor are they likely to do so. I therefore look forward to many buildings of equally, even ever greater challenging excellence.”
The Royal Gold Medal is approved personally by the Queen, and is awarded to those whose work has had “a significant influence ‘either directly or indirectly on the advancement of architecture,'” according to RIBA. The couple issued a statement saying, “We’re humbled to find ourselves in such a company of heroes, architects whose work we have studied and from whose example we continue to learn. We believe in the social value and the poetic purpose of architecture and the gold medal encourages us to prevail in this most privileged and complicated career.” The award will be presented at a ceremony at RIBA headquarters in London on 3 February, 2015.
Photos via O’Donnell + Tuomey