2017 Design Awards Submission Guidelines.

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The AIACC Design Awards Program strives to recognize projects that have inspired architectural design thought and exhibit formal, technological, and spatial innovations.

The Urban Design Awards will be evaluated by a separate jury proficient in urban and regional planning.


Call for Entries:                May 1, 2017
Submission Deadline:      June 26, 2017


A non-refundable entry fee must be paid online at time of registration. No entry fee will be refunded for entries that are disqualified, late, or not completed.

Design, Urban $375 $545
Small Project $125 $200
Maybeck n/a n/a


  • All licensed California AIA architects may submit built projects located anywhere in the world.
  • AIA Architects licensed in other states and non-AIA members may only submit built projects located in California.
  • All entries must be submitted by an architect licensed in the United States.
  • Entries in all categories (with the exception of Urban Design) must be built projects completed on or after January 1, 2009.


Each entry in the AIACC Design Awards Program is judged on the success with which the project has met its individual requirements. Some of these requirements include quality of design, stewardship, success in resolution of the project program or concept, thoughtful innovation in practice and technique, etc.

While awards are organized by category for the purpose of submission and jury review, the Design Awards Jury is not required to select recipients per category. However, Small Projects and the Maybeck will be denoted as such. The Urban Design Awards Jury will review only the Urban Design category.


Architecture (select one)

  • Adaptive Reuse/Renovation/Historic Preservation
  • Mixed-use
  • Single Family Residential
  • Multi-Family Residential
  • Institutional/Educational
  • Large Civic Projects
  • Commercial
  • Other

Small Projects (select one)

  • Object (under $150,000 fabrication + installation budget)
  • Structure (Under $750,000 construction budget)

Interior Architecture

Urban Design

The Maybeck Award


You may design your entry using any software of your choice. Be sure all text (no smaller than 12 point) is legible and images are clear.

Each entry must follow these basic guidelines:

  • Your complete entry should contain two files: The entry saved as a PDF (including the Performance Data Worksheet) saved as a PDF and the Concealed ID forms saved as a Word Document.
  • Your Abstract ID # must be clearly indicated on the top right of every page.
  • Entry PDFs should be in landscape layout and 11 inches wide by 8.5 inches high.
  • Each entry may not exceed 8MB or 20 pages. Entries exceeding these guidelines will be disqualified. The Concealed ID forms do not count as part of the 20-page maximum.
  • With the exception of the Maybeck Award, no entry should reveal the firm or project name.



Entries are to be submitted in PDF Format.

Page 1

The first page should have a two-sentence summary of the project, which paints a very concise and sharp picture through imaginative verbiage.

Follow the summary with one clear graphic that best represents the project.

Conclude with basic project information: category/subcategory, type of project (i.e. school, residence, hospital, etc.), completion date, budget (if available), and location.

Page 2 – 3
Includes: Project Narrative / Sustainability Objectives.

Page 4-6
Performance Data Worksheet: Energy, Water, and Resource Efficient Design Metrics (fill-in project information on worksheet provided). All 2017 AIACC Design Awards Program entries in the Architecture, Interior Architecture, and Urban Design categories must provide this information. 2017 Performance Data Worksheet available HERE

Page 7
Sustainable design strategies illustrated in an annotated diagram or section.

Pages 8-20
Include supporting images, photos, diagrams, site plans, floor plans, and elevations.


You are required to fill out the identification form, the intern declaration form, and the consultant list. The jury does not see your concealed ID forms until the final recipients have been selected.  CLICK HERE download Concealed ID Forms.


The following guidelines apply to all categories. Small Project, Maybeck, and Urban Design Submittals have additional requirements (see below).

Project Narrative
This is basic information provided to the jury about your project. This should not exceed two (2) pages.

  • Describe your project as succinctly as possible. Avoid elaborating on features already made clear by the photographs and drawings.
  • Incorporate information about project intentions, program requirements, sustainable design goals, cost data, and distinguishing aspects of their resolution. Include the context, program/scope, special challenges/unusual characteristics, and the solution/design of the project.
  • Sustainable design integration: as the design industry quickly enters into a new regulatory era, with all new California residences required to be Net-Zero Energy by 2020, and all new California commercial properties required to be Net-Zero Energy by 2030, it is imperative that California architects continue to take a leadership role in embracing advanced sustainable design integration within our overall concepts of design excellence. That is why the AIACC Design Awards program requires a clear description of exemplary sustainable design integration and the inclusion of related building performance metrics as indicated in the Performance Data Worksheet.
  • Explain all design achievement that demonstrates exemplary skill and creativity in the resolution and integration of formal, functional, and technical requirements. Projects should reflect a strong sense of place, ecology, resource efficiency, history, and purpose as an integral part of demonstrated design excellence.
  • For preservation/restoration projects it is especially important to provide the jury with pertinent information to differentiate between the original architects’ work and the newly altered, preserved, or restored work.

Image Requirements

  • Photos must be clear- however, do not use high resolution photos that will increase your file size. Use file types that allow compression to keep the file sizes low, such as .jpg or .png images. Avoid using .tif files. Suggested image resolution is 125 to 150 DPI.
  • Include both interior and exterior photographs that illustrate the complete project, including its relationship to its surroundings.
  • Historic Preservation/Restoration Projects must include a side-by-side before and after photo.
  • You may include composite images, but numerous composites throughout the entry are discouraged.
  • Site Plans may be drawn at any scale in any medium, but the scale and north arrow must be indicated clearly.
  • Floor Plans must clearly explain the solution.
  • Interior Architecture projects are required to include one exterior photo to give context to the project’s surroundings.

Sustainability Requirements

Architects have both the opportunity and responsibility to protect and enhance the delicate interface between the natural and the built-environment, while charged with the investment and protection of the earth’s precious and limited resources as they partner in the creation of the built environment.
— AIACC Principles for Advocating Energy, Water, and Resource Efficient Design.

In addition to the aforementioned submittal requirements, the following two items must also be included within your submittal package:

  1. In keeping with the AIACC’s policy of “Principles for Advocating Energy, Water, and Resource-Efficient Design,” all submittals to the AIACC Awards Program are required to include performance metrics for resource-efficiency and resilience. CLICK HERE to download Performance Data Worksheet.
  2. Sustainable design strategies must be illustrated in an annotated diagram or section; two examples are provided. You may choose to design your illustration in any way that thoroughly displays the project’s sustainable design strategies.




The Small Projects awards category strives to elevate public awareness of the value of design that architects bring to our built environment, regardless of size and scope restraints. Submissions must be fully constructed projects of all program and building types completed after January 1, 2009. Renderings or concepts will not be accepted.

Projects may include new or renovation projects, or elements of built works. If applicable, include the Performance Data Worksheet.

Entries may be submitted under two subcategories:

  • Objects (Under $150,000 fabrication + installation budget): this category may include any designed object that inhabits and enriches our built environment (i.e. a chair, a light fixture, an installation, a bike rack, a doorknob).
  • Structures (Under $750,000 construction budget): This category may include small structures such as a kitchen, guesthouse or storefront.


The Maybeck Award recognizes outstanding achievement in architectural design as expressed in a body of work produced by an individual architect over a period of at least 10 years. The award is intended to honor the individual rather than the firm. The basis for the award is the quality of the body of work designed during one’s career.

The requirements for the Maybeck Award differ from the other Design Awards:

  • Include photographic images of completed projects that represent a breadth of experience and a range of building types. Creativity is encouraged! You may produce composite images. We recommend that this be done in such a way that individual details and characteristics are not lost.
  • In the Project Narrative section, provide comprehensive information describing the nominee and their selected projects. Please address issues deemed appropriate for the Maybeck Award such as strengths, challenges, management, social concerns, community involvement, and other issues of topical relevance. You may include project names and types in the project description (residential, church, museum, etc.), and the year said projects were completed.

Note: The Maybeck Award is not a Lifetime Achievement Award or Firm Award. The Lifetime Achievement Award and the Firm Award are part of the separate Council Awards. If you are interested in nominating or applying for either of these awards, the 2018 Council Awards Call for Entries will be available on September 1st, 2017.


The Urban Design Awards will be administered jointly by the American Institute of Architects California Council (AIACC) and the California Chapters of the American Society of Landscape Architects (CCASLA). Awards will be given to recognize excellence in the creation, improvement, and sustainability of our physical environment by Architects and Landscape Architects. Sustainability, as applied to this category of Design Awards, can include reduction of reliance on the automobile, encouraged transit-oriented development, promoted district-wide energy and water management, and fostered biodiversity and cultural resilience.

Urban Design is defined for the Awards Program as “the realm of physical design encompassing master planning, landscape architecture, and conceptual architectural design.” This definition includes research and the design of spaces at all scales, from places between buildings to regional master plans. The program focuses on conception and expression of the idea following through to the many phases of a master plan.

The Urban Design Jury will look at a wide spectrum of design and work in the following areas:

  • Environments between and among buildings.
  • Built and landscape environments around and on top of structures.
  • Realms in time between idea and construction, and of long or short duration.
  • The natural environment, the human constructed environment, and combinations and junctures of the two. Raises the question of “how does the work support environmental sustainability?”
  • Public Works, Private works, and mixed use projects.
  • Information and design for and by the public sector and the developmental sector.
  • Design, research, built work, and publications.
  • Projects small and large.
  • Span of time from thought and concept to built or partially built.
  • The personal experience in conjunction with the Time of day and season.

Special criteria and requirements:

  • Work(s) may be projects, designs, plans, papers, and publications. Areas of projects can include campuses, transit centers, resorts, downtowns, town centers, parts of cities, neighborhoods, parks, trails, and open space.
  • The project description must include a description of the important urban design and landscape architecture concepts, including those supporting sustainability and resilience. Examples include pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods that encourage walking for health, transportation or large scale projects that are respectful of indigenous cultures, and pre-existing natural habitats for flora and fauna.
  • Submissions cannot include public relations materials. Submissions must include an aerial photograph or site plan with a clear depiction of the area of the work, a north arrow, and a scale.
  • The time period(s) of the project must be clearly stated.
  • Submissions must include a brief statistical summary of areas.

Urban Design Jury

The Urban Design Award jury will be comprised of members of the AIACC Urban Design Committee and members of the California Chapters of the American Society of Landscape Architects.


File Preparation and Uploading

Your entry should be saved as a .PDF and Concealed ID forms as a Word Document with your Abstract ID # as the file name. Remember do not include any information regarding the firm or those affiliated with the project.

CLICK HERE to view an example of an award winning submittal.

The submittal platform is provided by Cadmium. Once you register you will receive an email with your registration information that will allow you to return to Cadmium to upload your submittal for jury consideration. You will be assigned a separate Abstract ID # with every submittal you create; a link also will be provided should you want to update your submission. Please CLICK HERE for instructions on how to register.


AXP candidates can receive up to credit hours for design competition entries. Candidates should fill out the Design Awards Verification form. This form is to certify that the AIACC Design Awards program meets the requirements of completing a design competition for AXP credit as defined in the AXP Guidelines.

For information on AXP Experience reporting, visit NCARB’s AXP Guidelines.

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