[Skip to Content]

2020 AIA Baltimore Excellence in Design Awards

Call For Entries - Entry Deadline: September 8, 2020

Enter A Project

The annual AIA Baltimore Excellence in Design Awards program recognizes excellence in architectural design by AIA Baltimore members and AIA members with projects in AIA Baltimore’s region. Built and unbuilt projects submitted by AIA members are judged by a distinguished jury of AIA architects.

New This Year – Framework for Design Excellence

In response to AIA’s commitment to climate action, AIA Baltimore, AIA Chesapeake Bay, AIA Potomac Valley, and AIA Maryland are each introducing new sustainability questions to Design Awards Submissions. Questions are drawn from the AIA COTE Top 10 Toolkit, now the Framework for Design Excellence, beginning this year with 5 of the 10 measures: Designing for Integration, Designing for Energy, Designing for Equitable Communities, Designing for Water, and Designing for Resources.

When you submit a project, you will be given open-ended prompts to describe in a few sentences how your design achieves outcomes for each of the above measures. Projects are not required to address every measure; you should only address those measures that are relevant to your project.  

The goal is to promote the sustainable design work of our members and to support AIA’s Resolution for Urgent and Sustained Climate Action.  

Download Framework Questions Preview

New This Year – Expanded Promotion of Design Award Projects to Clients and the Public

To create added value to our design awards programs, The AIA Chapters in Maryland are collaborating on a new digital platform to more widely promote 2020 awarded projects. This will include a more visually compelling awards gallery and additional marketing to public and client-facing publications.


Design Awards may be given to built or unbuilt architecture, interior architecture, adaptive reuse, planning, renovation, restoration and urban design projects. Architectural projects eligible for submission include, but are not limited to: details, images of models, building segments and renderings.

Eligible projects include:

  • Built or unbuilt projects designed by AIA Baltimore licensed architect members anywhere in the world.
  • Built or unbuilt projects built in AIA Baltimore’s region designed by AIA members of other chapters.
  • Unbuilt projects designed by Associate AIA members of AIA Baltimore.

Projects must be completed on or after January 1, 2015 and cannot have previously received an award from AIA Baltimore.

There is no limit to the number of projects that may be entered by a firm, and all materials included in submissions must be cleared for public reproduction. Entries must be submitted jointly by the architect and client and must credit all members of the design and construction team. Projects must be submitted by or on behalf of an AIA member involved in the project.

Entry Fee

  • AIA Architect Members: $125 per project entry
  • Assoc. AIA Members: $45 per project entry (Unbuilt only)


Tuesday, September 8, 2020: Submissions and Entry Fees are due by 11:59pm EDT. Entrants will submit all entry forms and uploads and then submit the entry fee payment to complete the submission. Entry fee payments may be made by credit card in the awards submission portal when the project is ready for final submission. No late entries will be accepted!

September 2020: Jury Review. The awards will be evaluated by a jury of AIA Colorado members. Local juries will evaluate awards for Good Design=Good Business, the Residential Design Awards, the Social Equity Award, and the Unbuilt Architecture Award.

October 2020:  Design Awards Announcement and Celebration

Awards and Judging

Entry Categories

  • Commercial/ Industrial
  • Multi-family / Mixed Use
  • K-12 Education
  • Higher Education
  • Cultural / Institutional
  • Healthcare
  • Residential Design Award (See criteria)
    • Single/Dual Family (Contemporary)
    • Single/Dual Family (Traditional)
    • Renovation/Addition
  • Unbuilt Architecture Award (See criteria)
    • Professional (AIA)
    • Emerging Professional (Assoc. AIA)

Special Recognition Awards

At the jury’s discretion, special recognition will be given for the following:

  • Grand Design Award
  • Social Equity Design Award (See criteria)
  • Good Design = Good Business (See criteria)
  • Excellence in Sustainable + Resilient Design Award (See criteria)
  • Michael F. Trostel, FAIA, Award for Excellence in a Historic Preservation Project
  • Exceptional Detail

The size, scope, category or cost of a project in no way limits its eligibility or level of award.


Awards will be considered using the following criteria, with additional consideration given to responses to the Framework for Design Excellence measures.

1. Design Excellence 
Does the design elevate the human experience while addressing the project’s practical needs?

2. Sustainable Design / Resiliency 
Does the design take a progressive approach to advancing the missions of sustainability and/or resiliency?

3. Community Impact
Does the design provide significant improvement to its social or physical setting?

Winning Entries & Publicity

Award winners will be notified by email. Winners are requested to notify their Client, General Contractor/Construction Manager and Consultants of the project's award and are encouraged them to attend the awards celebration. Winners are asked to refrain from publicizing their award until after the celebration.

Winners in each category will be required to create a project board. Winning project boards will be on display at the awards event and included in a traveling exhibit the following year. More details about board design will be sent to winners. DOWNLOAD BOARD TEMPLATE .PSD

AIA Baltimore will promote the winning projects on our website and in our publications. A press release will be sent to the local media.

Submitting a Project

A complete submission for each project includes the following:

  1. Completion of the online SUBMISSION FORM 
  2. IMAGE FILES - 3-8 digital images with captions and photographer credit for each image
  3. PROJECT/JURY PDF (10MB, 11 pages max)
  4. PRESENTATION PDF (6MB, 3 pages max)
  5. Payment of Entry Fee

Online Submission Website

To begin your application, go to: http://mdaiaawards.secure-platform.com/a. All submission forms, file uploads and payment of fees will be handled through the online submission site. You can save your work as you go and return to the site as often as needed but not after finalizing and submitting the submission.

Once an entry is completed for a project, the entire project submission may then be submitted to another Maryland chapter awards program without re-entry or uploading. Simply check the box: “I Want to submit this project to another Chapter Awards Program” on the last page of the form when you are ready finalize your submission.

Entrants must conceal all references to the architecture firm name or design team members on all materials submitted for jury review. Identification of authorship within the Project/Jury PDF will disqualify the submission. Project PDFs must be in landscape orientation with a page size of 8 1/2" x 11", may not exceed 10MB total (all pages combined), and shall conform to the following requirements:

  • An anonymous PROJECT/JURY PDF presentation file for jury review and evaluation purposes only.
  • A PRESENTATION PDF presentation file for public presentation purposes.

Image Files ─ (3-8 Images, jpg)

Provide no more than 8 images (10MB max per image) for use during the awards, on the AIA Baltimore website, and for publication. The jury will not see these files.  List photo file names, captions and photographer credit for each image in the submission portal where indicated. Two of the images are to be of high resolution of the best representation of the project - one exterior photo and one interior photo. The two high resolution images should be labeled: 1) “Project Name_high res ext” and 2) “Project Name_high res int.” Recommended sizing for additional images:  1200 px wide for horizontal images // 1000 px high for vertical images.

Project/Jury PDF ─ (10MB, 11 Pages Max)

Entries must conform to the following requirements:

  • The total size of each entry PDF may not exceed 10MB of data.
  • Each submission may contain a maximum of 11 pages. At your discretion, submit individual images on separate pages or, arrange multiple images in a layout on a single page.
  • Each page must be 8 1/2" x 11" in landscape orientation. An easy way to produce your PDF file is to create your presentation in PowerPoint and then save the file as a PDF.
  • Use this naming convention for the Project/Jury presentation file: JPDF_ProjectName.pdf
  • Please remember you must conceal references to the architecture firm or team members in the PDF submitted for jury review. Identification of project authorship within the Project/Jury PDF, including the file naming convention and photo credit, will disqualify the submission.

First Page: Project Description and Introduction:


  • Combination of text and images with 12pt. minimum font size, formatted and designed at the entrant’s discretion.

Project Information:

  • Project Name
  • Project Location (City, State, if applicable)
  • Project Category
  • Project Summary. This summary is intended for publication. Describe the site, program, and solution. As part of this synopsis, discuss key design aspects (intent, concepts, and contextual relationships), technical aspects (structure, materials, mechanical systems, etc. where informative), and the social, environmental or other benefits of the project to the public and its users.

Subsequent Pages (2-10):  Visuals
Include Images along with additional succinct annotation. The format and design of the pages are at the entrant's discretion maintaining 8 1/2" x 11" landscape orientation. Renderings are discouraged for built work—diagrams and images should speak to the design process and completed built work.

  • Images should provide a clear understanding of the extent and quality of the finished project. A site plan is required. Photographs should depict the whole project with views of each exposed exterior façade and each room of the project, as appropriate. Exterior views are optional for interior projects.
  • Label images with suitable titles and captions. Photographer credit on the images used in the Project/Jury PDF is permitted except those identifying the firm and/or team members.
  • 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. Process sketches that communicate the development of the project and/or its construction are encouraged.
  • 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.


Select three images that best represent your project. Selected images of all entries will be displayed during the Design Awards Celebration, and images of award-winning entries will be displayed during the Awards Ceremony.

Prepare Presentation PDF in the following format:

  • The total size of PDF—all three pages combined—may not exceed 6MB of data.
  • Three pages maximum.
  • 10” x 7.5” in landscape orientation and developed as a PDF presentation file.
  • On each page, add project title, firm name, firm logos or other identifiers as desired. 
  • Use this naming convention for Presentation PDF file: PPDF_FirmName_ProjectName.pdf

Have questions? Contact Nathan Dennies at ndennies@aiabalt.com or 410-625-2585 (x102)

Enter A Project