Lyric Theatre awarded RIAI Triennial Gold Medal


The Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland (RIAI) has awarded it’s Gold Medal (2010-2012) to O’Donnell + Tuomey, for the Lyric Theatre in Belfast. The medal was presented by RIAI President Ciaran O’Connor FRIAI to Sheila O’Donnell and John Tuomey, co-founders of the practice.

Standing on sloping site between Belfast’s brick streetscape and the serpentine parkland of the River Lagan, the design of the Lyric is a response to site, setting and context. The building’s striking irregular shape is a direct response to these conditions. Materials have been chosen to endure and for their craftsmanship and this extends to the rich timber-lined auditorium.  

The RIAI Gold is the highest honour in Irish Architecture and has been presented by the RIAI since 1934 for a design of exceptional merit by an RIAI architect, in Ireland or internationally. The project must be completed within a defined three-year period and the medal is awarded several years after completion so that the success of the building can be confirmed by the passage of time. 

There was a strong shortlist of buildings for the RIAI Gold Medal for the period 2010-2012, from which the Lyric Theatre by O’Donnell + Tuomey was chosen by the Jury as the Winner:

Heneghan Peng Architects – Giant’s Causeway Visitors’ Centre
Denis Byrne Architects – Gas Networks Services Centre
Donnelly Turpin Architects – Rathmines Square and Leisure Centre
Scott Tallon Walker Architects – The Aviva Stadium
McCullough Mulvin Architects – Trinity Long Room Hub                     
Robin Lee Architecture – Wexford County Council Headquarters with Arthur Gibney & Partners

The Lyric Theatre also won a hat-trick of awards at the Royal Society of Ulster Architects’ (RSUA) Design Awards in 2012, including the Liam McCormick prize for the “Building of the Year”.

l-r Kathryn Meghen, RIAI CEO; John Tuomey and Sheila O’Donnell, O’Donnell + Tuomey Architects, Recipients of the RIAI Gold Medal for the Lyric Theatre; RIAI President Ciaran O’Connor, Peter Hynes, Chair of the Jury. Photo credit Conor Healy