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Maryland AIA Chapters - Excellence in Design Awards 2024

The Maryland AIA Chapter Design Awards programs are designed to encourage and recognize distinguished architectural achievement; to honor the architectural team, their clients and consultants who work together to improve the built environment; to demonstrate the breadth of services architects provide; and to raise public consciousness of the Architect’s role in shaping the quality of life through design excellence.


All submission forms, file uploads and payments will be done in the OpenWater portal. To choose the awards program you wish to enter, click on the Chapter name in the Navigation Ribbon/Bar above.  

If you have previously submitted a project, you already have an account in OpenWater and will be able to login with your credentials. If you have not previously submitted an entry, you will automatically create an account when you begin an entry the first time.

After creating an entry application, you may begin working on your forms and uploading the required files. You can save your work as you go and return to the site as often as needed, but not after finalizing and submitting the entry. All submission materials and entry fee payments must be completed and submitted by the submission deadline which varies by Chapter.

Submitting a Project to Multiple Maryland Programs
As you complete your original submission for a project, that project may be submitted to another Maryland chapter awards program without re-entry or uploading. On the last page of your initial submission, you may check the box, "I Want to Submit This Project To Another Chapter Awards Program"  and select the additional chapter program you wish to enter BEFORE finalizing the initial entry.

All entry materials and payments must be submitted before each respective chapter's submission deadline.  

Important Reminders:

§ All information will be used as entered on the website gallery and for publicationPlease be thorough and consistent in completing your field entries and double-check for spelling errors.

§ Use N/A or other appropriate text in fields that are required if the field is not pertinent to your project.

Tips for Creating Strong Awards Entries:

§ Consider investing in photography - it really can make or break a project. Use a professional photographer if possible. Starting and ending with good photography is key for a great presentation of the project. 

§ Include photographs, drawings, floor plans, elevations, sections, renderings and graphic images as necessary to provide a clear understanding of the extent and quality of the finished project.

§ Include details: interiors, details, secondary and tertiary views or sides.

§ Let the images tell the story as narratives rarely live up to the architecture. Brevity helps clarity.

§ Find ways in which particular solutions can be clearly represented – that are transformational and intrinisic to the design proposal.

§ Show the process of getting to the refined, final result – how the architect went through the design process or addressed challenges to get to the final result. Represent the creative thought process.

§ Strong conceptual clarity is important. How did the architect take various programmatic concerns and look beyond straightforward solutions to create exceptional, innovative design responses?

§ Renovations, restorations, additions and conversions should present “before” AND “after” photographs. For projects involving changes to existing structures, documentation of original conditions is highly recommended. Include process sketches that communicate the development of the project and/or its construction.

§ Indicate the project’s physical context or site character through graphics and/or imagery.

§ Unbuilt projects should include floor plans, elevations, sections, renderings, graphic images, and/or site plans as necessary to provide a clear understanding of the project. If client-commissioned, include photos of the site location. 


►  I will be submitting three projects. Should I complete three registration forms?  Yes, you will need to complete three separate entry applications.

►  Can I include the project name in the Jury PDF?  Yes, you can—just make sure you don’t identify the submitting firm or designer.  Submissions must be completely anonymous.

►  What happens if I exceed the 10MB file limit?  You will be asked once to reduce the size of the file and resubmit your project.

►  How will I know my submission has been received?  Upon submitting your entry, you will receive a confirmation e-mail message containing your submission details.

►  What should I do if I did not receive a confirmation e-mail containing my submission details?  First, check your junk mail folder - the most likely problem is that your spam filter sent the e-mail there.  If you don't find it in your junk mail folder, please contact the chapter program administrator for assistance.

►  Do I have to start and finish my submission in one session?  No. You can start your submission and come back to finish it before the applicable program deadline date by 11:59pm EDT.

►  Can I revise my submission after I've hit the "Save and Finalize" button?  Yes, but you must contact the program's administrator to request access to make changes through the portal.

►  Can we submit a few days late?  No. In the interest of fairness to all participants, no late entries will be accepted.

►  How will our PDF be viewed?  Jurors will view projects on both small (laptops) and large screens. As long as your images are web-ready (150 dpi), there will be no loss of fidelity.


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