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2024 AIA Potomac Valley Excellence in Design Awards



IMPORTANT: Please read the Call for Entries information below before entering a project! 


The AIA Potomac Valley Excellence in Design Awards program is 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 celebrate and raise public consciousness of the architect’s role in shaping the quality of life through design excellence.


Participation is open to built and unbuilt projects completed after January 1, 2014 that have not been previously awarded by AIA Potomac Valley (exception: projects that were previously awarded in an unbuilt category may be resubmitted in a built category). 

Please carefully read through the eligibility requirements below to ensure you meet ALL criteria before submitting an entry because NO refunds will be given due to errors in submission.


  • Entrant must be an AIA Member (from any chapter).
  • Entrant must be either a key participant on the design team or a primary Principal* of the submitting Firm responsible for the project.
    *Owner / Partner / Top-tier Principal 


  • If entrant is an AIA Potomac Valley member, project may be located anywhere.
  • If entrant is a member of another AIA chapter, project must be located within the geographic boundaries of the Potomac Valley chapter (Allegany, Charles, Frederick, Garrett, Montgomery, Prince George’s, and Washington counties in Maryland).


  • Project may be built or unbuilt. 
  • Unbuilt submissions may not be under construction at the time of submission.


Project must not have previously received any award from AIA Potomac Valley, with the exception that a Built project may have previously been awarded as an Unbuilt project.


There is no limit to the number of projects that may be entered by a firm or individual.


  • All materials included in submissions must be cleared for public publication
  • There are no restrictions related to prior publication of project.

AIA Potomac Valley Schedule

  • Friday, July 19  Submission Forms, Material Uploads and Entry Fees are due by 11:59pm EDT. Entry fee payments must made by credit card in the awards submission portal when the project is ready for final submission. NO LATE ENTRIES WILL BE ACCEPTED, AND NO REFUNDS OR DEFERRALS WILL BE ISSUED.
  • August/September 2024  Jury Review. Project entries will be evaluated by a jury of AIA Seattle and AIA Wyoming members organized by Head Juror Raymond S. Calabro, FAIA, Principal, Bohlin Cywinski Jackson. MEET THE JURY
  • Thursday, October 17  Design + Leadership Awards ceremony to be held at College Park City Hall (AIA Maryland’s 2022 Public Building of the Year)


Entry Fee

  • AIAPV Members: $175 per project entry
  • Other AIA Members: $300 per project entry
  • Small Projects only: 
    • AIAPV Members: $80 per project entry
    • Other AIA Members: $150 per project entry
  • By submitting a project, the submitting architect affirms that he or she has provided a complete list of participants who contributed substantially to the design of the project (regardless of discipline) and absolves AIAPV of any responsibility for omissions.
  • Entry fees are non-refundable and non-deferrable.

Submission Categories

Categories are for organizational purposes only. It is the jury’s discretion whether to bestow awards in each category as the jury believes is justified by the quality of the submissions; the jury may not make awards in all categories. Projects of all types and scales, including new construction, additions, renovations, and historic preservation projects are encouraged in each of the following categories:

  • Commercial Architecture
  • Institutional Architecture
  • Interior Architecture
  • Multi-Family Architecture
  • Residential Architecture
  • Unbuilt Architecture
  • Urban Design & Master Planning
  • Small Projects (in any of the above categories)
    Entry shall be any of the following:
    • less than 1,000 sf
    • cost less than $300,000
    • an object


Design Awards

  • Gold – (Best in Show) Best project selected from the awarded projects, for the following two categories:
    • One Residential
    • One Non-Residential 
  • PV Award – Recognizes the best project exemplifying elements of the AIA’s Framework for Design Excellence. Entrants must complete the optional section and check the box on the submission form to be considered for this award.
  • Honor – Projects with consistently outstanding character and quality in all aspects.
  • Merit – Projects exemplifying superior achievement in most aspects.
  • Special Recognition – Projects with an exceptional aspect, detail, feature, or other characteristic, which may include ethical or responsible design principles.


The AIAPV Awards Committee will select a Jury Chair. Following AIAPV guidelines for diversity, the Jury Chair selects a jury team of distinguished architects from outside the Potomac Valley Chapter. The jury shall consider projects on their own merits regardless of size, scope, or cost, and shall evaluate entries based on how successfully projects meet their individual requirements. At the jury’s discretion, award recognition in any category may be given to as many or as few projects as are deemed worthy by the jury. The jury’s decisions are final and not subject to review.

Prior to the awards ceremony, all entrants will be notified by email as to whether or not they have won an award. However, the level of award will not be disclosed until the awards ceremony. We ask that all publicity about winning projects be held until after the awards ceremony.

All entries will be judged and awards considered using the following criteria, which you should address in the Project Summary narrative in the JURY PDF:

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?

AIA's Framework for Design Excellence Considerations

All national-level AIA design submissions must be submitted through the lens of The Framework for Design Excellence, describing how its 10 Principles apply to the project. National AIA strongly encourages state and local components to use it too. We ask that jurors and applicants consider the following:

  1. Ugly is as ugly does.
    We want no ugly winners, nor any shallow beauties.
    Entries should discuss the aesthetic underpinnings and the impact of the work.
    Jurors should use the Framework to understand the project in greater depth.
    We want winning projects to be creative and high-functioning, neither banal nor irresponsible.
  2. You aren’t my everything.
    No one project excels in every way, and some issues are not relevant to some projects.
    Entries should use only the relevant aspects of the Framework to explain their project, and not feel compelled to address other aspects.
  3. It’s not perfect.
    But entries should use the Framework to organize the narrative.
    We acknowledge some of the Framework’s shortcomings for design awards:
    1. It doesn’t address ALL the aspects that define great architecture.
    2. It underemphasizes delight, creativity, and beauty.
    3. It feels like a rubric. BUT IT’S NOT!
  4. Size doesn’t matter.
    A bathroom renovation can still win a design award.
    The jury should consider that some projects can afford multiple consultants and impressive analyses, but that should not work against more constrained projects.
  5. Stay subjective.
    Some hope to establish minimum performance thresholds. That limits the judgment of the entrant and jury in deciding what makes architecture great. Good design should remain both individualistic and democratic.

Each submitter will be given open-ended prompts to describe in a few sentences how their design achieves outcomes for each measure. Entrants should use the Framework to communicate the values and impact of the project, disregarding principles that do not apply. Jurors should holistically consider the projects from the relevant Framework principles, recognizing creativity and beauty consistent with its purpose and place with a positive impact.

Note: For expanded guidance on how the Framework applies to AIA Potomac Valley’s Excellence in Design Awards program, click here.

The outline below is only a brief summary of each Principle. To learn more about the AIA Framework for Design Excellence click here.


  1. Design for Integration: How does the project engage the senses and connect people to place?  What is the purpose of the project that helps to align with the other Principles?   
  2. Design for Equitable Communities: How does the project engage and promote human connection?  How does the project promote inclusion and social equity within the community? 
  3. Design for Ecosystems: How does this project support the local ecosystem?  How are users connected with the local ecosystem? How does the design build resilience while reducing maintenance? 
  4. Design for Water: How does the project use water wisely and handle rainfall responsibly?  
  5. Design for Economy: How does the design show that higher performance can be cost-effective?  
  6. Design for Energy: Does the project exceed building code requirements? Is energy generated on-site from renewable or passive sources?  What is the zero net carbon impact?  
  7. Design for Wellness: How does the design promote comfort and health?  How does the design connect place with nature? How does the design encourage a healthy lifestyle?  
  8. Design for Resources: How does the project promote zero waste?  How are materials and products selected and designed to reduce embodied carbon and environmental impacts while enhancing building performance? 
  9. Design for Change: How does the project design anticipate adapting to new uses, adapt to climate change, and support resilient recovery from disasters?  
  10. Design for Discovery: What lessons for better design have been learned through the process of project design, construction and occupancy and how was that shared with project teams?  

Winning Entries & Publicity

Prior to the awards ceremony, all entrants will be notified by email as to whether or not they have won an award. However, the level of award will not be disclosed until the awards ceremony. Winners are requested to notify their Client, General Contractor/Construction Manager and Consultants of the project's award, and are encouraged to invite them to the awards celebration. Winners and the rest of the project team are asked to refrain from publicizing their award until after the awards ceremony.

After being notified of the jury’s decision, all winners shall provide a team photo and a 75-word description to be used in the awards ceremony. The awards ceremony is expected to be held in October. At the ceremony, award winners will be announced and award certificates presented to the Architect, Owner/Developer and General Contractor/Construction Manager (additional award certificates for Consultants and/or extras must be requested by email to pam@aiapv.org no later than 2 weeks prior to the awards event).

AIA Potomac Valley will promote the winning projects on the AIAPV website and Maryland Architecture Excellence in Design Awards Gallery, and in any Maryland AIA Chapter publications. A Press Release will be sent to local media.


Each entry shall be accompanied by an entry fee to cover jury and program expenses. All documents and images must be submitted as outlined in the specific requirements below. AIA Potomac Valley and/or the Jury reserves the right to disqualify any entry not submitted in the manner specified.

Links to resources to consider while preparing your entry:

A complete project submission includes the following and must be finalized within the online submission portal with full payment by Friday, July 19, 11:59 pm EDT:

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


Your design entry must be prepared and formatted as described below for submission through the online submission portal.

If you've previously submitted a project, you have an account and will be able to login with those credentials. If you have not previously submitted, you will automatically establish an account when you create an entry application for the first time. 

All submission forms, file uploads and payment of fees will be handled through the online submission portal. You may save your work as you go and return to the site as often as needed, but all submission materials and entry fee payments must be completed and submitted by the submission deadline.

Once an entry is completed for a project, that entire project submission may then be submitted to another Maryland chapter awards program without any re-entry or re-uploading. Simply check the box: "I Want to Submit This Project to Another Chapter Awards Program" on the last page of the submission, 'Entry Uploads,' BEFORE finalizing the initial entry.

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

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

JURY PDF (10 MB, 10 pages max) 

Entries shall conform to the following page requirements:

  • The total size of each entry—all pages combined—may not exceed 10MB of data.
  • Each submission may contain a maximum of 10 pages. At your discretion, submit individual images on separate pages, or arrange multiple elements in a layout on a single page. 
  • Each page must be 11” x 8 1/2" in landscape orientation, and developed as a PDF presentation file.
  • Use this naming convention: 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 Jury PDF will disqualify the submission.
First Page: Project Description and Introduction


  • 11" x 8 1/2" landscape orientation (all pages)
  • Combination of text and images, 12 pt. minimum font size, formatted and designed at entrant's discretion.

Project Information:

  • Project Name
  • Project Location (City, State, if applicable)
  • Project Category (a project may be entered in only one category)
  • Project Summary describing 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. Also address how this project incorporates social sustainable resiliency or other benefits of the project that are relevant.

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 while maintaining 11" x 8 1/2" 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 encouraged. Photographs should depict the whole project. 
  • As appropriate, address sustainability in your narrative (and/or with diagrams or metrics).
  • Label images with suitable titling and captions. Photographer credit on the images used in the Project/Jury PDF is permitted except those identifying the architectural 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.


Provide no more than 8 images in JPG format (10MB max per image) for use in the presentation of entrants, awards and publications. The Jury will not see these files. List captions and photographer or rendering credit for each image. Three of the images are to be of high resolution of the best representation of the project - one thumbnail, one exterior photo and one interior photo. The Thumbnail image can be a repeat of one of the other two, or a different image entirely. The three high res images should be at least 300 dpi and 8'x10” and labeled 1) Project Name_thumbnail, 2) Project Name_high res ext and 3) Project Name_high res int. Subsequent images must be at a maximum of 6” x 9” at 150 dpi for horizontal images, and a maximum of 6” x 7.5” at 150 dpi for vertical images.

PRESENTATION PDF (6MB, 3 pages max)

Select three images that best represent your project. Selected images of all entries will be displayed during the cocktail reception at the design awards ceremony, and images of award-winning entries will be displayed during the awards presentations.

Prepare Presentation PDF in the following format:

  • Three pages maximum—may not exceed 6MB of data.
  • Format pages 11” x 8.5” in landscape orientation and saved as a PDF.
  • On each page add project title, firm name, firm logos or other identifiers as desired.
  • Use this naming convention: PPDF_Firm Name_ProjectName.pdf


Questions? Contact Pam Rich at prich@aiapv.org.

Frequently Asked Questions

►  ​I’m not a member of AIA Potomac Valley, but a member of my project team is. Can I submit at the lower “member rate?” Yes, you can; the AIAPV member should be listed as the eligible entrant.

►  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 may—just make sure you don’t identify the submitting firm or designer. Submissions are to remain 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, provided your request is made and changes are complete by the entry deadline. You will need to ask the program's administrator to open your submission to allow you to make the change yourself 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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