Today, Design Excellence Awards are given in six categories: distinguished building, interior architecture, divine detail, unbuilt design, sustainable design (new in 2004), and urban design (added in 2006), which alternate each year. The Design Excellence Awards recognize the best contemporary architecture produced by Chicago-area firms, in Chicago and elsewhere.
- DBA: Distinguished Building Award
- DDA: Divine Details Award
- IAA: Interior Architecture Award
- SDA: Sustainable Design Award
- UDA: Unbuilt Design Award
- URB: Urban Design Award