An audio recording of Ray Eames and RIBA President Gordon Graham at the RIBA Royal Gold Medal ceremony 1979

A never-released recording of the 131st presentation of the Royal Gold Medal to the office of Charles & Ray Eames has been unveiled for the first time by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). Converted from its original analog format into digital by RIBA's former Chief Archivist, architectural historian Kurt Helrich, the recording presents the historical day Ray Eames became the first woman to receive the Royal Gold Medal.

On 12 June 1979, a year after the death of her partner Charles Eames (1907–1978), Ray Eames accepted the Medal from RIBA President Gordon Graham (1920–1997). The choice of the American husband and wife designer duo was perhaps not surprising given the nature of the selection committee, comprising architects with a strong affiliation with the modernist philosophy and receptive to American design influences. Amongst these were Peter Aldington, the architect of The Turn, Middle Turn and Turn End – also designed in partnership with his wife Margaret – and Norman Foster, who, 40 years later, is collecting the works of the Eames’ for his private foundation.