Top architectural honour for Croke Park

The home of the GAA was today awarded the architectural equivalent of the cherished Sam Maguire cup.

The home of the GAA was today awarded the architectural equivalent of the cherished Sam Maguire cup.

The designers of Croke Park Stadium were awarded the highest honour which is given to a building of exceptional merit.

President Mary McAleese presented the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland’s (RIAI) Gold Medal to the architectural practice Gilroy McMahon.

Judge Joan O’Connor said Croke Park is a landmark in the architectural, historical and cultural landscape of Dublin.

“It relates well to its neighbours and environment while being an elaborate but delicate signature on the city’s sky-line,” said Ms O’Connor.

“Not only does it afford 83,000 visitors full and clear vision of the field of play, it provides a sense of community within its audience and is as impressive when empty as when full to capacity.”

Croke Park has been at the heart of Gaelic games for more than a hundred years, but underwent a massive redevelopment in recent years.

Since 2007 it has also hosted international rugby and soccer fixtures while Lansdowne Road is being built.

The Gold Medal, awarded since 1934, is handed out three to five years after completion so buildings can be judged in a mature state. This year’s Gold Medal takes in 2001 to 2003.

Des McMahon, of Gilroy McMahon Architects, said the stadium is recognised internationally as a superb structure.

“Croke Park has rewritten the rules for stadium design,” said Mr McMahon.

“Its creative design, in a restrained inner-city context, creates a communal intimacy for spectators.

“However architecture should be more than a building, even more than a beautiful building, it can be an agent for something greater.

“The new stadium has helped reaffirm the historical importance of the GAA as a Gaelic cultural beacon. It is a tribute to the confidence and cultural values of the GAA who, through their generosity in sharing the venue with all sports, have engendered a sense of national ownership and pride.”

Two other architectural practices received commendations from the judging panel.

They were ABK Architects for Aras an Chontae, Offaly County Council Civic Offices, Tullamore, Co. Offaly and de Paor Architects Utility Building, Vernon Avenue, Clontarf, Dublin.

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