Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara Will Curate the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale

The pair have worked together as Grafton Architects since 1978.

Shelley McNamara (L) and Yvonne Farrell (R) of Grafton Architects in Barcelona on April 22, 2009 in Barcelona. Photo courtesy of AFP PHOTO/LLUIS GENE.GENE/AFP/Getty Images.

The principals of Dublin’s Grafton Architects, Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara have been tapped to organize the international architecture exhibition at the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale, the 16th edition of the exhibition. It’s the first time that a pair of women have curated the show; the only previous female curator was Kazuyo Sejima, who organized the exhibition for the 12th edition, in 2010.

The duo, who founded their firm in 1978, has held chairs at Harvard and Yale, and have since 2013 been full professors at Accademia d’Archittettura, Mendrisio, Switzerland. Just last year, they took home the Royal Institute of British Architects’ International Prize for their project designing a new campus for the UTEC University of Technology and Engineering in Lima, Peru. Among their other awards are the Silver Lion at the 12th Venice Architecture Biennale, in 2012, for the exhibition “Architecture as New Geography.”

Farrell and McNamara are currently at work on new buildings for various educational and cultural institutions, including the London School of Economics, the Dublin 7 Education Together National School, the Dublin City Library, and the Institut Mines-Télécom, in Paris.

Farrell and McNamara take on the assignment handled last time around by Pritzker Prize–winning Chilean architect Alejandro Aravena, whose exhibition highlighted “numerous projects … that emphasize architecture for the 99 percent,” as Karen Wong wrote for artnet News at the time.

Biennial board chair Paolo Baratta, announcing the news, referred to Aravena’s exhibition as underlining architecture’s need to respond to people’s pressing needs and indicated that Farrell and 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.”


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