Irish firm scoops top award for university in Milan


Grafton Architects, headed by Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara, surprised and delighted most of their peers in 2002 when they won the competition to design a new building for Bocconi University in Milan. That a relatively small Irish practice could win such a plum job was – and still is – seen as a remarkable achievement. Six years on, the massive new building, occupying the length of a city block is now complete and will be officially opened tomorrow in the presence of the Italian president, Giorgio Napolitano, and European Commission president, José Manuel Barroso, after mass celebrated by the Archbishop of Milan, Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi. It has been hailed by Domus , Italy’s leading architecture journal, as a “an extremely powerful composition … a great constructivist sculpture [that] stands out against the featureless housing blocks and tenements” in and around the Via Bligny and Via Roetgen, giving the gritty city of Milan a new “urban monument”. Casabella was equally enthusiastic. “Those who see it immediately realise that this is an erudite work of architecture, with roots in the tradition of the Modern Movement. The long architectural history of the Bocconi University … could not have met with more appropriate, significant results than this major work.”

The Irish Times