I, for one, have never thought seriously enough about Grafton Architects. I first became aware of their work when I visited the Sensing Spaces exhibition at the Royal Academy in London, back in 2014. This exhibition was an enthralling series of site-specific installations by various architectural firms, each exploring a different aspect of architectonic space. The monumental wooden structures by Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara of Grafton recreated the incremental differences of sun- and moonlight in space. The bold, brutish shapes made a stark impression, but the effects of the light were subtle and softly appealing. One senses this subtlety in their built projects time and time again.
Grafton Architects is an Irish architecture firm, established in 1978 by Yvonne Farrell & Shelley McNamara. In April 2016 they were announced as the winners of the contest for the London School of Economics' new Paul Marshall Building. Also competing for £100 million project were David Chipperfield Architects, Herzog & de Meuron Architects, among others. The majority of built projects by Grafton Architects have been for educational institutions, many in Ireland. Intimacy with a social infrastructure is channelled in their architecture, where chance meetings are made possible in a comfortable setting. Their buildings mediate between spaces and places, with such fluidity that they might go unnoticed. Perhaps this self-effacement might explain the lack of popular recognition for Grafton - unlike other Starchitects, whose projects scream for attention, Farrell and McNamara's seamless designs pass by like the drift into dusk that is so inherently natural to us all.