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AIA Maryland 2021 Excellence in Design Awards

The annual AIA Maryland Excellence in Design awards program recognizes excellence in architectural design by AIA Maryland members and, AIA members working in Maryland.


  • Projects designed by AIA Maryland members in good standing built anywhere in the world.
    (Exception: Projects considered for Public Building of the Year must be located in the state of Maryland.)
  • Projects built in Maryland designed by AIA members in good standing from other states who were licensed to practice in Maryland at the time of the project’s completion. 
  • Built and unbuilt projects completed on or after January 1, 2016 and not having previously received an award from AIA Maryland. Unbuilt projects that have previously received an AIA Maryland award may not be resubmitted as BUILT projects.

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.

The eligible member submitting the project must be a principal member of the design team responsible for the project or, a principal of the firm that is responsible for the project. Entries must be submitted by the Firm of Record or the Architect of Record. 

Review the complete 2021 Call for Entries

New this Year

In 2020, the Maryland components introduced the Framework for Design Excellence to our awards programs. For 2021, AIA Maryland is introducing an award for the project that best achieves the principles of the Framework for Design Excellence. Entrants must complete the optional section for the FDE then be sure to check the box on the submission form to be considered for this award.

Another initiative introduced in 2020 was a new virtual awards gallery. This collaboration by the Maryland components offered additional marketing and exposure for projects recognized by each component. If you have not yet visited this site, you can see it here.  

Please direct questions for AIA Maryland to: designawards@aiamd.org or, 410.263.0916.

Review the complete 2021 Call for Entries

Tips for Creating Strong Awards Entries:

  • This uncut 2015 Jury video contains valuable tips on preparing an appealing submission. (26:53 min)  See also AIA DC’s ‘Winning 101’ resource on design awards and competition entries.
  • Tell your project's story — how your design solved issues, how it serves our communities and builds a better world. Less is more – make every word and image count and tell us the most powerful parts of your project's story.
  • 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. Images That Inspire: Great Photography Pays for Itself
  • How to Take the Perfect Architectural Photo
  • Visit the Excellence in Design Awards 2019 Gallery for project examples
  • 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.
  • Understanding the context of the project is critical when judging built work. Be careful when cropping photos so that context is not cut out.
  • 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 in order to get where they were. 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.