Some kind of congratulations are due to the Royal Institute of British Architects for choosing as this year’s winners of the royal gold medal for architecture the Irish practice Grafton. For Grafton Architects is run by two women, Shelley McNamara and Yvonne Farrell, which means that for the second time since Queen Victoria awarded the first such medal in 1848, it has gone outright to members of the same sex as the late queen-empress. On two other occasions, women have won the prize together with their husband-colleagues.
This year, the RIBA could hardly have done otherwise, given a campaign by an action group called Part W to highlight the scarcity of women among the winners of the gold medal and the world’s other top awards for architecture. It is flabbergasting that this conversation still has to be had now, in 2019. Still, baby steps. The choice of Grafton can’t be faulted, either – they are outstanding architects.