A recording of the RIBA Royal Gold Medal recipient Ray Eames receiving his award has surfaced through the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). It marks the day Eames became the first woman to receive the Royal Gold Medal.

The recording is from the ceremony in London from 12 June 1979. Eames was 66 years old while receiving the prestigious award. Eames’ partner, Charles Eames, both in life and work had passed away the year before.

About the award

The RIBA Royal Gold Medal is the Royal Institute of British Architects’ highest annual honour.

Charles and Ray Eames. Photographed by Sam Lambert, RIBA Collections(Photo Courtesy: RIBA)

The ceremony in the year 1979 was the RIBA Royal Gold Medal’s 131st presentation. The Eames Office; a Venice, California-based design studio was the recipient on the medal.

Eames Office was an unconventional choice for the highest honour by many. But RIBA stood by their decision and explained the same.

The work of the American husband and wife designer duo captured the attention of the selection committee. Their works carry strong American design influences and affiliation to modernist philosophy.

Norman Foster and Peter Aldington, then young, comprised of the selection committee. A trio of houses in Buckinghamshire is some of Aldington’s best works that he did in collaboration with Margaret, his wife.

More information

The digitization of the 20-minute clip is done by Kurt Helfrich, a former RIBA chief archivist and an architectural historian. The clip begins with Gordon Graham, RIBA president (1977-1979) introducing Ray Eames.

Eames was an influential designer and artist who played a vital role in shaping the state of design and architectural discourse. She passed away at the age of 75 in 1988 in Los Angeles.


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