2019 Annual Peter Rice Lecture – Grafton Architects
Peter Rice was the preeminent structural engineer of the latter half of the twentieth century. Born in Dublin, reared in Dundalk, Gyles Quay (County Louth) and Inniskeen (County Monaghan), he entered Queen’s University Belfast in 1952, initially to study aeronautical engineering but promptly transferred to civil engineering. During his period at Queen’s he joined the University Rowing Club and learned to fly with the Queen’s University Air Squadron. Peter Rice graduated from Queen’s in 1955, departed to London and spent his professional life based in London and Paris working on seminal projects such as the Sydney Opera House, Centre Pompidou Paris, Lloyd’s Building London and the Menil Museum in Houston Texas and many other extraordinary projecs. He died prematurely in 1992.
In addition to his brilliantly innovative design work as an engineer, Rice was a deep-rooted humanist, a characteristic reflected in his attitude to collaborative work across both disciplines and cultures, innovating as he did across the globe. His relevance to upcoming generations is twofold – his reading of culture and technology as being profoundly life-enhancing and his refusal to be limited by traditional boundaries be they territorial, intellectual or professional. Skeptical of dogma and by his own confirmation using poetry as inspiration, Peter Rice established a ground about him where he was at ease, confident of his relationships – an emotional intelligence coupled with an unorthodox and brilliant intellect, an exemplar of a rounded individual motivated to enhance society.
The annual Peter Rice Lecture is made possible by the generous support of the Arup Trust and previous speakers have included Sophie Le Bouvra, Francine Houben, Billie Tsien, Odile Decq, and Sheila O’Donnell. This year’s Peter Rice Lecture will be delivered by Grafton Architects, winners of the 2010 RIBA Gold Model. Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara co-founded Dublin-based Grafton Architects in 1978 and work alongside directors Gerard Carty and Philippe O’Sullivan, who joined the practice in 1992. With an impressive portfolio of projects, the people-centred practice has achieved global recognition most notably for its exemplary education buildings, many of which were commissioned following international competitions. In 2013 Grafton Architects’ University of Limerick Medical School was shortlisted for the RIBA Stirling Prize for the UK’s best building; in 2016 they won the inaugural RIBA International Prize for their bold new “vertical campus” building for Lima’s specialist engineering university (UTEC) in Peru.
Entry by free entry ticket through Eventbrite at: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/77481177287
Photography: Alice Clancy