Award Programs

Design Excellence Awards


ABOUT/CALL FOR ENTRIES

AIA Chicago presents the annual Design Excellence Awards, which honor the best work by Chicago architecture firms found worldwide.

View the winners of the 2016 Design Excellence Awards.

SUBMISSIONS WILL OPEN APRIL 3, 2017

Entries and Eligibility

  • Entries may be submitted by architecture firms based in the Chicago metropolitan area, defined as the counties of Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry, and Will in Illinois, and Lake and Porter counties in Indiana. Projects may be located anywhere in the world.
  • Projects located within the metropolitan area but designed by architecture firms based outside Chicago may also be submitted.
  • Projects must be designed by registered architects.
  • Firms are encouraged to re-enter projects previously submitted if they did not win an award. Projects that have received an AIA Chicago award are not eligible for another award in the same category, but they may be entered in a different category.
  • The same project may be submitted in more than one award category.
  • If the design team includes more than one firm, any member of the team may submit the joint project. All members of the design team must be acknowledged in the entry, and a member of the non-submitting firm(s) must provide a release indicating that they are aware of the submission. 
  • Each entry will be judged for the success with which it meets the individual project program, intent and requirements. Each entry will be weighed individually for its merits, not in competition with each other.
  • Any project that credits a jury member or a jury members firm as architect, associate architect, consultant, or client is ineligible and will be disqualified if submitted.

Award Categories & Judging Criteria

DISTINGUISHED BUILDING AWARD

The purpose of the Distinguished Building Award program is to recognize excellence and distinction in architecture. The jury will be looking for work that sets itself apart from the norm according to such considerations as the:

                1. Concept for the project;

                2.  Detailing and execution of the design concept;

                3.  Achievement of difficult or unusual program goals;

                4.  Originality of design;

                5.  Image created for the client through the project.

*Projects must have been completed between May 1, 2012, and May 1, 2017

INTERIOR ARCHITECTURE AWARD*

The purpose of the Interior Architecture Award program is to recognize excellence and distinction in interior architecture. The jury will be looking for work that sets itself apart from the norm according to such considerations as the:

                1. Concept for the project;

                2.  Detailing and execution of the design concept;

                3.  Achievement of difficult or unusual program goals;

                4.  Originality of design;

                5.  Image created for the client through the project.

*Projects must have been completed between May 1, 2012, and May 1, 2017

DIVINE DETAIL AWARD*

The purpose of the Divine Detail Award is to recognize an instance in which the expression of architectural theory becomes an artistic medium, defining the relationship between architecture and craft. Projects should illustrate the governing design concept of the building in which the detail is found through the use of a particular material, detail or technology. The jury will be looking for work that sets itself apart from the norm according to such considerations as the:

                1.  Concept for the detail;

                2.  Originality of the design;

                3.  Execution of the design concept;

                4.  How the detail relates to the goals of the overall project.

*Projects must have been completed between May 1, 2012, and May 1, 2017

THE TEN-YEAR AWARD

This award, recognizing architectural design of enduring significance, is conferred on a project that has stood the test of time for 10 to 15 years. Projects must be located within the metropolitan Chicago area, defined as the counties of Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry, and Will in Illinois, and Lake and Porter counties in Indiana.

1.    The award is open to architectural projects of all types;
2.    The project must be substantially in the form in which it was completed and in good condition;
3.    The project should still carry out the original program. Change of use is acceptable when such change has not substantially altered the original design;
4.    The project must have excellence in function, in the distinguished execution of its original program, and in the creative aspects of its statement by today's standards. Building and site together should be examined. Any alteration to the immediate context will be taken into consideration.

Projects eligible for the Ten Year Award must have been completed between 2002 and 2007.

Entry Fees

AIA Members: $150 per submitted project

Non Members: $200 per submitted project

Entry fees are nonrefundable. There is no limit to the number of entries that may be submitted by an individual firm.


RULES AND REGULATIONS

Please note that rules and regulations have been updated since 2015.

AIA Chicago reserves the right to disqualify any submission not adhering to these requirements and may rescind any award so bestowed.

IMAGES

  • Images include drawings and photos.
  • Sufficient documentation to describe the project context, special considerations, and innovative design.
  • Maximum 10, minimum 8 images (drawings and photos), arranged in the order you wish them to be viewed. One image showing each exposed side of the building or environment must be included.
  • No more than 2 images per page/slide.
  • Site plan and floor plan as appropriate to the project, including North arrow and graphic scale.
  • Maximum size per file: 5 MB; file types: JPG or PNG.
  • Project authorship may not be revealed in any of the submitted materials 
  • Images may be edited to improve contrast ratio, color balance, and composition through cropping.  Images may not be edited to add, remove, or alter any aspect or element of the project including its context. Images should represent the project as it exists in the built environment. Artistic composition must not confuse the jury as to the nature of the project.

TEXT

  • Project name and location (city, state, and country if outside the United States)
  • Construction costs.This information is to assist the judges and will not be published by AIA Chicago.
  • PROJECT DESCRIPTION: Written information shall be limited to 300 words, including: Statement of program and contextual background. In addition, include any special challenges or considerations, unique and/or innovative solutions, lessons learned, or other information pertinent to the understanding of the project.
  • Project authorship may not be revealed in any of the submitted materials.
  • SUSTAINABILITY STATEMENT: Statement outlining the sustainable aspects of your submission
  • TEN-YEAR STATEMENT: Those submitting to The Ten-Year Award will be required to produce a secondary short statement in response to the prompt: Briefly describe the physical transformations, if any, which have taken place in the period since its construction. When describing the goals of the project, also describe any related short- and long-term benefits to the client and community. (200 word limit)

Design Credit

The intent of the awards is to honor those firms and individuals responsible for the submitted designs. AIA Chicago has always honored other team members as part of the awards process. However, it is critical to the integrity of the awards that the primary actor receive the primary credit. Entering the competition is a representation that the submitting firm is responsible for the submitted design. This must be the case or the entry is not eligible for consideration.

The architect or firm of record, associated architects, project team, consultants, general contractor, and client shall be identified on submission forms. Client names will be withheld from publication on request. Submissions from architects working as an employee or consultant to a firm must include a release from a principal of that firm acknowledging that the submitting architect had primary design responsibility and that project credits are correct.

Photo Release

Please provide photo credit information upon uploading images. Credits should be listed as they would appear in print and online. Note that by uploading images, you are agreeing that your firm has prior licensing approval to use the images and allow AIA Chicago to display them for promotional and marketing purposes with proper attribution.

Notification

The AIA Chicago office will notify winners immediately following the jury deliberations. Nonwinners will be notified by mail. No public announcement of any awards will be made by AIA Chicago prior to the awards presentation at Designight on October 13, 2017. Winners are asked not to make their own announcements prior to Designight.

Recognition

The Design Excellence Awards will be presented at Designight on October 13, 2017 at Navy Pier’s Grand Ballroom, 600 E. Grand Avenue. Award certificates will be given to the architect, owner, and contractor for each project. Winning projects will be documented in Chicago Architect magazine. These projects will also be highlighted in a presentation that includes all awards submissions on the chapter Web site. AIA Chicago will also undertake a public relations campaign on behalf of the winners.

Submission Format

Submissions are accepted online via AIA Chicago's Awards Force site from April 3–May 31, 2017.


ARCHIVE

View the archive of past DEA winners and submissions by clicking here.


SPONSORSHIP

Sponsorship opportunities will be announced soon. Please contact Debora Donato at 312.374.1726 for more information on how to become a sponsor.


2017 JURY 

Distinguished Building Awards

Interior Architecture Awards

Divine Detail Award

The Ten-Year Award