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As we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day and all things Irish, we pause our search for that lucky four leaf clover to give a nod to a few famous Irish architects and their most acclaimed architectural works:
James Hoban (1758 – 1831)
At an early age, Hoban trained as a carpenter and a wheelwright. Hoban came to America from Ireland with high ambitions. In addition to being an architect, builder, and mason, Hoban was also a civic leader, captain of a militia company and a pillar of the Roman Catholic community in Washington, D.C.. Hoban designed and built many buildings, however, he is most famous for his design of the White House. The White House has been the residence of every U.S. president since John Adams in 1800. Unfortunately, not much is known about Hoban because many of his important papers were lost in a fire in the late 1800’s.
Kevin Roche (1922-2019)
Roche is an Irish-American architect who was born in Dublin, Ireland and graduated from University College Dublin. After graduation, Roche was accepted at the Illinois Institute of Technology in the United States where he studied for one semester under Mies van de Rohe. Roche found his place after leaving Mies’s tutelage when he joined the firm of Eliel and Eero Saarinen. The firm would eventually become Roche’s own (Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo and Associates) after Saarinen’s death. In 1982 Roche became the fourth recipient of the Pritzker Architecture Prize which is essentially considered the equivalent of architecture’s Nobel Prize. KRJDA has designed many important buildings such as the Convention Centre Dublin, the Shiodome City Center, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the Museum of Jewish Heritage, the Ford Foundation, John Deere’s World Headquarters, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Oakland Museum of Art.
David Collins (1955 – 2013)
Born in Dublin, Ireland, Collins an Irish architect who studied at the Bolton Street School or Architecture in Dublin. Collins specialized in the interior design of high-end bars and restaurants in London such as La Tante Claire in Chelsea, Harvey’s, The Wolseley, the Delaunay Hotel, Gordon Ramsay at Royal Hospital Road and Nobu Berkeley St.. Collins established his design firm, the David Collins Studio, in London in 1985. He also designed many interior spaces for retail stores such as Jimmy Choo, Alexander McQueen and Harrods.
Andrew Devane (1917 – 2000)
Born in Limerick, Ireland, Andrew Devane studied architecture at University College Dublin under Rudolf Maximilian Butler. 5 years after graduation, Devane was awarded the Taliesin Fellowship and traveled to the US to study under Frank Lloyd Wright. Upon returning to Ireland, Devane partnered with two other architects, Paddy Robinson and Cyril Keefe to found Robinson Keefe & Devane, an architectural and interior design firm specializing in the commercial, industrial, educational, and health care. He also designed a number of churches. His most recognized works were the Irish Life Centre and the Allied Irish Bank‘s Headquarters, both in Dublin, as well as the Irish Pavilion at the New York World’s Fair. He also designed the chapel at St. Patrick’s College in Dublin as well as St. Fintan’s Church in Sutton.
Eileen Gray (1878 – 1976)
Born in County Wexford, Ireland as Kathleen Eileen Moray Smith, Gray actually spent much of her childhood in London where she learned to paint and interned in a lacquer workshop. Gray was a pioneer of the modern movement in architecture. She was an architect, furniture maker and interior designer. Gray’s most famous work is the house she designed in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, France know as E-1027. Gray not only designed the home, but she also designed the furniture for E-1027. E-1027 was meant to be a holiday home for Gray and her then love-interest Romanian architect and writer Jean Badovici. Unfortunately, this pioneering Irish las’s most acclaimed piece of work is also mired in controversy as it is told that Swiss-French architect and friend of Badovici, Charles-Édouard Jeanneret, known as Le Corbusier, painted murals on the white walls of E-1027 after Gray and Badovici parted ways. This infuriated Gray who viewed Le Corbusier’s murals not as a gift, but a form of vandalism.
Yvonne Farrell (1951-present) and Shelley McNamara (1952-present)
The founders of Grafton Architects, Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara both hail from the country of Ireland. Yvonne was born in Offaly, Ireland and Shelley was born in Lisdoonvarna, Ireland. They both attended University College Dublin which is where they met. They founded their firm in 1978 and have have practiced together for 40 years and have designed spaces in places such as Ireland, Italy, France, and Peru. In discussing their approach to designing a space during a telephone interview with The New York Times, the two were quoted as saying, “We think about a heroic space and at the same time think about how a human being feels in our space. We think about our agenda as being a humanist agenda, and that’s at the forefront.” The collaboration of these two women has paid off well. In 2020 the duo won the highest honor in architecture, the Pritzger Architecture Prize. They are the first two women to share this prestigious award. A link to the New York Times article referenced in this paragraph can be found here.
Now that you know a little bit about how the Irish have influenced architecture around the world, back to the celebration! Erin go bragh!