The Berkeley Undergraduate Prize for Design Excellence endowment was established in the Department of Architecture at the University of California, Berkeley College of Environmental Design to promote the investigation of architecture as a social art. Each year the PRIZE Committee selects a topic important to the understanding of the interaction of people and the built world that becomes the focus of the Essay Competition.
The Committee poses a Question on this website related to the topic. Students enrolled in any accredited undergraduate architecture program or diploma in architecture program throughout the world are invited to submit a 500-word essay proposal in English responding to the Question (see eligibility requirements). Undergraduate architecture students may team up with undergraduates from allied arts and social sciences programs.
From the pool of essay proposals received, approximately 25 are selected by the PRIZE Committee as particularly promising. The selected individual students, or student teams, become Semifinalists.
These Semifinalists are invited to submit a 2,500-word essay, again in English, expanding on their proposals. A group of readers, composed of Committee members and invited colleagues, selects five-to-eight of the best essays and sends these Finalist essays to a jury of international academics and architects to select the winners.
At the conclusion of the Essay Competition submittals, all Semifinalists are also invited to submit for a BERKELEY PRIZE Travel Fellowship. Details for the Fellowship will be announced in the Spring 2019. Past Travel Fellowship Competition requirements, winning submissions, and follow-up reports by the winners are available to read here on the website.
STAGE 1: ENTER
Steps to Enter
- Meet the Eligibility Requirements.
- Write a 500-word proposal for an essay on this year’s Essay Question, as posted.
- Provide one photograph each of your chosen projects.
- Submit the essay and photographs online.
- The competition is open to all current full-time registered students in an undergraduate architecture degree program or undergraduates majoring in architecture in accredited schools of architecture worldwide. Diploma in Architecture students who have not yet completed their Diploma are also eligible.
- Essays must be submitted in English.
- Finalists will be required to provide proof of current registration in the form of copies of actual school transcripts. You are still eligible to compete if you were an undergraduate student on September 15, 2016, but graduate before the awards are scheduled to be given.
Two students (maximum) who meet the eligibility requirements above may collaborate as authors. An architecture student may team up with another undergraduate in architecture, landscape architecture, urban studies, arts and humanities, the social sciences, or engineering. If two students collaborate, then both names must appear on their essay and if awarded a prize, the prize is to be equally shared.
You are asked to include digital photographs of your selected building(s) or place(s) with your essay. The photographs should be at a minimum 500 pixels wide, and in .jpg format. No more than three photographs will be accepted. You can use a digital camera, a film camera (and scan the printed image), or capture the image on a cell phone. The photographs should be as informative as possible in order to enable those reading the essays to determine how well you have described your subject matter. The Readers are instructed NOT to add or detract points from their evaluation because of the quality of the photograph itself. To the contrary, one of the primary purposes of the essay format is to test your skill in describing a place or building in words, rather then pictures or drawings. As with the Readers, use the photographs to continually review how good a job you have done in describing your selected building(s) or places in words.
Judging for the essay competition is on a numeric system. The members of the BERKELEY PRIZE Committee are asked to evaluate each essay in terms of the following criteria:
- Does the Proposal address the Question?
- How creative, or creatively developed, is the Proposal?
- Would the Proposal be clear to a broad audience?
- How does the Proposal rank in terms of writing style?
- How socially significant is the Proposal?
- What is the potential for developing this Proposal into a strong essay?
Each Proposal is given a score of 1 to 5 (5 being the highest). The top approximately 25 scoring Proposals become Semifinalists.
There is a total prize of 25,000USD, minimum 5,750USD first prize. The remaining purse is to be allocated at the discretion of the Jury.
|September 15, 2016||Launch of 2017 Essay Competition.|
|November 1, 2016||(Stage One) 500-word essay proposal due.|
|Mid-December, 2016||Essay Semifinalists announced.|
|February 1, 2017||(Stage Two) Essay Semifinalists’ 2,500-word essays due.|
|February 8, 2017||Launch of Travel Fellowship Competition for Essay Semifinalists.|
|Early-March, 2017||Essay Finalists announced.|
|March 12, 2017||Travel Fellowship Entries Due.|
|Mid-April, 2017||Essay winners and Travel Fellowship winners Announced.|