National Gallery and 14 Henrietta Street win the RIAI Silver Medals for Conservation and Restoration

29 Feb , 2024  

The Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland (RIAI) has, today, awarded two Silver Medals for Conservation and Restoration for buildings exemplifying innovation and architectural ingenuity in conserving and restoring Ireland’s cultural and built heritage. The projects considered were completed in the periods of 2014–2016 and 2017–2019.

The medal is awarded several years after completion so that the success of the building can be confirmed by the passage of time.

Speaking at the award ceremony, Sean Mahon, President of the RIAI said: “This medal is of particular importance with regard to preserving our built heritage and addressing climate change, as it recognises the use of existing buildings. The greenest building is the one that already exists. The winners and shortlisted projects demonstrate the importance of investing into quality design and materials from the beginning, as this will result in buildings that will stand the test of time.”

He added: “In a world where progress often seems to come at the expense of our past, the architects and their clients have shown us that conservation and restoration are not just acts of preservation, but acts of reverence – a testament to our respect for history and our commitment to future generations.”

National Gallery of Ireland’s Historic Wings Refurbishment by Heneghan Peng Architects and Blackwood Associates Architects is the winner of the RIAI Silver Medal for Conservation and Restoration 2014–2016. The winning entry has been described as displaying both ingenuity and restraint in its approach, working with the existing buildings and unlocking dormant potential to reinvigorate the gallery.

The jury commended the project for bringing both light and space deep into the heart of the building but not allowing bold moves distract from the integrity of the historic buildings. 

Róisín Heneghan and Kevin Blackwood of Heneghan Peng Architects and Blackwood Associates Architects, respectively, said: “Winning the RIAI Silver Medal for Conservation and Restoration for our work on the Historic Wings refurbishment at the National Gallery of Ireland is especially rewarding, as the award recognises work that has been completed for 7 years and has withstood the test of time and use. The project has succeeded because of the commitment of the Office of Public Works, the National Gallery of Ireland, the entire design team and contractors. Together we have delivered a project which appears subtle and at ease, despite the extensive scale and scope of the necessary interventions in the historic buildings.”

The Office of Public Works said: “We are delighted that the National Gallery of Ireland Historic Wings Refurbishment project has been selected as the winner for the RIAI Silver Medal for Conservation and Restoration 2014–2016. The OPW was very proud to lead this complex and challenging conservation project where a successful collaborative process between the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media of Ireland, the National Gallery of Ireland, the OPW and our design team, led by Heneghan Ping Architects, has resulted in an exemplar conservation project that contributes significantly to the preservation of both Ireland’s architectural heritage and the National Collection for generations to come.”

14 Henrietta Street by Shaffrey Architects is the winning entry for the RIAI Silver Medal for Conservation and Restoration 2017–2019. 14 Henrietta Street has won the award for its exemplary take on conservation. The jury noted that the team had skilfully charted the difficult task of conveying three hundred years of history and change, while still managing to be contemporary in approach. With decision making informed by research, there is a fine balance of conservation, repair and modern intervention.

Upon receiving the medal Grainne Shaffrey of Shaffrey Architects said: “This unique project is primarily about telling the story of a remarkable building in a remarkable street which has much wider resonance and meaning. We were involved in the architectural recovery of No 14 since 2005 and so to have been awarded in such a manner by our peers brings us great joy. We see the Silver Medal as also acknowledging the significant collaborative endeavour of this project, with Dublin City Council as supportive and ambitious client, with our design team colleagues, the contractors and craftspeople through all stages, the researchers, curators, poets and oral history team and, above all, the generosity of former residents and community who wholeheartedly engaged with this project.”

Heritage officer with Dublin City Council, Charles Duggan has overseen work to the house since 2007. He said: “The acknowledgement of this unique project by the RIAI is a testament to the foresight and courage of Dublin City Council for commencing work on the house in 2008 and persevering through the depths of the recession. The award honours the professionalism and tireless dedication of Shaffrey Architects with whom the City Council worked closely for ten years to bring this house back to life. It also recognises the hard work and skill of Gem Construction and their craftsmen. Most importantly, it celebrates the support of the house’s community of former residents who shared with us their memories and insights enriching our understanding of this deeply special place.”

Additional recognition given for four projects

Additional recognition has been given by the jury for four projects:

  • Blackrock Further Education Institute and Carnegie Library by McCullough Mulvin Architects
  • Humewood Castle in Co. Wicklow by James Horan for Henry J Lyons
  • McKee Barracks by Taylor McCarney Architects
  • 38 Fitzwilliam Place by Lawrence and Long Architects

The Jury members for the RIAI Silver Medal for Conservation and Restoration were Liam Tuite FRIAI (Chair), Fergal Mc Namara MRIAI, Úna Ni Mhearáin FRIAI, Carole Pollard FRIAI and Michael Healy FRIAI.