Architects of Kingston University building win top award

The Kingston town house designed by Grafton. Picture: RIBA

Grafton architects, a firm which designed a Kingston University building, has been awarded the most prestigious UK award for architecture in 2020.

Last week, the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) announced that Grafton had received the Royal Gold Medal in 2020 for “significant influence… on the advancement of architecture”.

The firm, led by Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara, made history by becoming the first all female-led practice to win the award.

RIBA president Alan Jones described Grafton Architects as “impressive role models” whose “work, philosophy and ambition are of profound importance”.

The Royal Gold Medal is a prestigious award in the industry, personally approved by Her Majesty the Queen.

Farrell and McNamara described the win as “a very special and happy moment in our lives”.

Established in 1978, Grafton specialises in government and educational buildings. Their recent projects include Kingston University’s Town House on Penrhyn Road.

On hearing the news of Grafton’s win, staff at Kingston University were pleased.

Senior lecturer in architecture Justine Langford said: “I was really pleased to hear that Grafton Architects have been selected for the RIBA Gold Medal this year, not least because we will soon have a Grafton designed building on campus.”

She also said that though Farrell and McNamara’s win is an advancement for women in the industry, currently less than a third of registered architects are female.

The Kingston town house designed by Grafton. Picture: RIBA

Commenting on the design of the university Town House, Vice Chancellor Steven Spier said: “Grafton Architects’ deep-seated commitment to ensuring the building reflects the very essence of our ambition to transform students’ lives by advancing knowledge in the most innovative of learning environments.”

The Town House, due to open in early 2020, will include a learning resources centre, a courtyard and cafés.

McNamara described the building as “a very progressive vision for education engagement”.

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