The son of a civil engineer, John Tuomey grew up on building sites, often drawing on the back of his
father’s blueprints. Having graduated from UCD in 1976 he found his first job with James Stirling in
London, where he worked on the Stuttgart Staatsgalerie from competition to detail design. Returning to
Dublin to work at the Office of Public Works, he completed two buildings, a laboratory in the landscape
and a city courthouse, which laid the theoretical and contextual basis for his future critical practice with
Sheila O’Donnell. O’Donnell+Tuomey established their partnership in 1988 with two public commissions
arising from their cultural and social activism, the Irish Film Institute and Ranelagh Multidenominational
School. Both buildings have been recently extended in a continuing relationship with the original clients.
Since these first commissions, and with the exception of particular private houses, all the subsequent
work of the practice has been won at competition.
Professor Tuomey began his teaching career while still a student and has had a leading involvement in
the studios at UCD since 1981. He has acted as chairman of external examiners at the Architectural
Association London and Universities of Cambridge and East London. He has lectured widely in
European schools of architecture and at North American universities including Buffalo, Cooper Union,
Columbia, Michigan, Syracuse, Toronto, Vancouver and Virginia. In the late eighties he spent two
semesters teaching in Princeton and Harvard. He took the first Masters in Architecture awarded by UCD,
where he has recently been appointed as inaugural Professor of Architectural Design.
John Tuomey’s engagement continues beyond practice and teaching to a more civic role in the public
awareness of architecture. He was president of the Architectural Association of Ireland in 1992-93 and
in 1986 he initiated the AAI Awards for excellence in architectural design, attracting significant Arts
Council sponsorship and recognition for the art of architecture. He has three times represented Ireland
at the Venice Biennale, curating an educational exhibit in 1991, in a solo show with Sheila O’Donnell in
2004, and in a group exhibition, the Lives of Spaces, in 2008. A regular member of awards panels and
cultural commentary on architecture, this year he was selected to chair the jury of the RIBA Stirling
Prize. He was elected Honorary Fellow of the AIA in 2010 and is a member of Aosdána, the affiliation of
artists in Ireland.
An occasional contributor to architectural criticism, commentary and review, he is author of Architecture,
Craft and Culture, now in its second edition published by Gandon Editions. The book is a reflection on
principles of design and thinking behind the work of O’Donnell + Tuomey. His writing was described by
Seamus Heaney as “…cogent in being both eloquent and earned”.
He was managing director of Group 91 Architects, an architects’ collaborative responsible for the urban
regeneration of Temple Bar as Dublin’s cultural quarter. Partner in charge of several O’Donnell+Tuomey
buildings, including the National Photography Archive, Gallery of Photography, Furniture College
Letterfrack, Sean O’Casey Community Centre, Irish Language Cultural Centre in Derry, Lyric Theatre in
Belfast and The Photographers’ Gallery in London. Together with Sheila O’Donnell he is developing their
recent competition-winning designs for the London School of Economics Student Union and Central
European University Budapest.