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Architects O’Donnell + Tuomey awarded the RIAI Gold Medal for Architecture for the Lyric Theatre, Belfast

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Architects O’Donnell + Tuomey awarded the RIAI Gold Medal for Architecture for the Lyric Theatre, Belfast

Architects O’Donnell + Tuomey awarded the RIAI Gold Medal for Architecture for the Lyric Theatre, Belfast
December 10
09:21 2021
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The Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland (RIAI) has awarded the RIAI Gold Medal (2010-2012) to O’Donnell + Tuomey, for the Lyric Theatre in Belfast. The medal was presented by RIAI President Ciaran O’Connor FRIAI to Sheila O’Donnell and John Tuomey, co-founders of the practice.

Standing on a sloping site between Belfast’s brick streetscape and the serpentine parkland of the River Lagan, the design of the Lyric is a response to site, setting and context.  The building’s striking irregular shape is a direct response to these conditions. Materials have been chosen to endure and for their craftsmanship and this extends to the rich timber-lined auditorium.

The RIAI Gold is the highest honour in Irish Architecture and has been presented by the RIAI since 1934 for a design of exceptional merit by an RIAI architect, in Ireland or internationally. The project must be completed within a defined three-year period and the medal is awarded several years after completion so that the success of the building can be confirmed by the passage of time.

Michael D. Higgins, President of Ireland, in a special message to the winners and the RIAI, said: “As a society we place enormous trust in our architects, charging them with visualising and designing the buildings which shape the environment in which we live our daily lives. Our architecture not only reflects the contemporary moment in which it was built. It also captures that moment for future generations, allowing them a greater understanding of the past from which the modern age has flowed. That is an invaluable gift to society, and a great responsibility for all those charged with the creation and construction of the edifices which define our landscapes. This Triennial Gold Medal is an important recognition of those who have excelled in this most critical field. I congratulate its winners and commend The Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland for its greatly valuable and generous work.”

Ciaran O’Connor, FRIAI, RIAI President, said: “I would like to congratulate Sheila O’Donnell and John Tuomey and their colleagues as well as their clients from the Lyric Theatre on this outstanding building – a worthy recipient of the RIAI Gold Medal. This is the second RIAI Gold Medal for O’Donnell + Tuomey who were previously awarded for the Ranelagh Multi-Denominational School. The RIAI Gold Medal demonstrates the enduring value that architecture brings to society and people’s lives.”

Peter Hynes FRIAI, Chair of the Jury, read the Jury Citation: “The Lyric Theatre was the subject of a design competition won in 2003 by O’Donnell + Tuomey. The Architects then engaged in an intense and extensive dialogue with client and users before being novated in 2009 to join the main contractor for a two-year construction period. Viewed after a first decade in service the Lyric today is a deeply considered and exquisitely crafted building which responds to and engages with its physical and cultural contexts and enriches both. It combines the welcome of arrival with the drama of movement and the surprise of discovery on many levels. It integrates public functions and programmatic requirements in a generous, innovative and mutually supportive way and it serves as a focal point for the local community and the wider creative community of the city and beyond. This distinguished piece of Architecture is a very worthy and welcome addition to the ranks of the winners of the RIAI Gold Medal.”

There was a strong shortlist of buildings for the RIAI Gold Medal for the period 2010-2012, from which the Lyric Theatre by O’Donnell + Tuomey was chosen by the Jury as the Winner:

Heneghan Peng Architects Giant’s Causeway Visitors’ Centre
Denis Byrne Architects Gas Networks Services Centre
Donnelly Turpin Architects Rathmines Square and Leisure Centre
Scott Tallon Walker Architects The Aviva Stadium
McCullough Mulvin Architects Trinity Long Room Hub
Robin Lee Architecture

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