Sheila O'Donnell

Sheila O'Donnell
Born 1953
Dublin, Ireland
Nationality Irish
Alma mater University College Dublin
Royal College of Art
Occupation Architect
Awards Downes Medal
RIAI Triennial Gold Medal
Fellow American Institute of Architect
Practice O’Donnell + Tuomey
Projects Venice Biennale of Architecture

Sheila O'Donnell (born 1953, Dublin), is an Irish architect who co-founded the O'Donnell & Tuomey partnership in 1988. Her design work on buildings in the Dublin area has been qualified as "thoughtful and inspired."

Early life and education

O'Donnell graduated in architecture at University College Dublin in 1976. In 1980, she was awarded a master's degree in environmental design from the Royal College of Art, winning the prize for best graduating student.[1][2][3]


On graduating from Dublin, O'Donnell first worked for 18 months with James Stirling and worked on the detailed design of the Tate’s Clore Gallery on Millbank before returning to Dublin in 1981.[2][3]

In 1988, together with John Tuomey, she established O’Donnell + Tuomey Architects in Dublin which has won many national awards, including the Downes Medal from the Architectural Association of Ireland on seven occasions since 1988 and the RIAI Gold Medal in 2000. They have twice represented Ireland at the Venice Biennale of Architecture (2004 and 2008) and have been nominated for several European awards.[1] As a result of her involvement with a small group of architects interested in the development of the centre of Dublin in the early 1980s, she helped to set up the Blue Studio Architecture Gallery which produced proposals and books. As a result, in 1991, she became a director of Group 91 Architects who won the architectural framework competition for the development of Dublin's Temple Bar. The work, completed in 1998, has been widely published.[2][3]

O'Donnell's recent work has been characterized by the use of watercolour studies which have been exhibited at the Royal Academy in London and at the Royal Hibernian Academy in Dublin. Currently she is involved in the design of a students' centre for the London School of Economics and a building for the Photographers' Gallery in Soho. Past work has centred mainly on housing, schools and cultural institutions in Dublin including the Irish Film Institute (1992) and an extension to Ranelagh School (1998).[1] More recently, in collaboration with the Irish Department of Education, O'Donnell has worked on the design of Cherry Orchard School, a primary school pilot project for disadvantaged communities. Now completed, it has received many awards and was published by the OECD as an exemplary educational building.[3]

Sheila O'Donnell is also a studio lecturer at University College, Dublin and has been a visiting teacher and critic at schools of architecture in Japan, Venezuela, and the United States, including Princeton, Michigan, Buffalo, Yale, Columbia, Syracuse, and Cooper Union.[3] In 2010, she was elected an Honorary Fellow of the American Institute of Architects.[1] She is also an external examiner for the Department of Architecture at Cambridge University and for the Architectural Association, London.[2]


In electing her an honorary fellow in 2010, the American Institute of Architects spoke of O’Donnell + Tuomey's reputation "for making intense, poetic, site-specific buildings with a strong sense of material richness in urban and landscape contexts." Anne Schopf, FAIA, referred to her work as "thoughtful and inspired, rigorous and whimsical." [3]

In 2013 she was shortlisted for the Architects Journal's 'Woman Architect of the Year' award.[4]

In 2015, O'Donnell + Tuomey won the 2015 RIBA Royal Gold Medal, the world's most prestigious architecture award.[5]



  1. 1 2 3 4 "Sheila O'Donnell", Aosdana. Retrieved 8 March 2012.
  2. 1 2 3 4 "Ms Sheila O'Donnell B Arch, MA", UCD School of Architecture. Retrieved 7 March 2012.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "Sheila O’Donnell, Hon. FAIA", The American Institute of Architects. Retrieved 8 March 2012.
  4. "Woman Architect of the Year shortlist: Sheila O'Donnell". Architects' Journal. 7 February 2013. Retrieved 5 October 2015.
  5. "Sheila O'Donnell and John Tuomey receive 2015 Royal Gold Medal for architecture - Irish Architecture News -". Retrieved 2015-10-15.
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