Save the Date! Design Awards honorees will be announced at the annual ceremony on Thursday, April 18, 2024 at Herbst Theatre in San Francisco.
AIA San Francisco's Design Awards honor exceptional architects and their remarkable contributions to architecture and design. Celebrating outstanding achievements, the Awards recognize projects in the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond. The program aims to inspire and acknowledge architectural excellence, paying tribute to the collaborative efforts of architects, clients, and consultants. Together, they shape a better built environment, elevating our quality of life through exceptional design.
Entry Fees + Deadlines
Extended Deadline: Tuesday, February 20, 2024 at 11:59 PM (PST)
$285 AIASF Member Submission
$475 General Submission
$40 for Full-Time Architectural and Design Students (with ID)
Financial hardship fee waiver available in the Unbuilt category. Fee Waiver Request Form.
- Open to AIA San Francisco members and nonmembers;
- Any person or firm is eligible to submit projects located within the boundaries of AIA San Francisco (San Francisco and Marin Counties, or within a 30-mile radius of San Francisco);
- Any person or firm practicing within the AIA San Francisco boundaries (San Francisco or Marin Counties, or within a 30-mile radius of San Francisco) is eligible to submit projects located outside the area; if a firm has multiple offices, only projects designed and executed by an office within the AIASF boundaries are eligible;
- A project that has previously won an award in other awards programs is eligible, unless the project was previously honored with any AIA San Francisco Design Award;
- Any number of projects can be entered regardless of project size, budget, style, or building type, and submissions may include remodeling or extended use projects;
- Work by the firm of a design professional serving as a juror is ineligible;
- For built projects, construction must have been completed within three years of the final submission deadline;
- For the Unbuilt Design projects, the design must be within three years of the final submission deadline.
The Design Awards submission is structured into main categories and optional concentrations. In addition to the design awards given in each main category — Architecture, Interior Architecture, and Unbuilt Design — the jury may also choose to recognize projects that exhibit special achievements in four concentrations, giving special acknowledgement to projects that further encompass the values of design excellence within the context of historic preservation, social responsibility, technology excellence, and urban design.
With this format we hope to demonstrate that all of these disciplines explored collectively, rather than independently, strengthen the overall power and scope of architecture to help shape the built environment and enrich the human spirit
AIA San Francisco’s Design Awards program is aligned with the 10 design principles of the AIA Framework for Design Excellence via the Common App submission form. The Common App allows awards applicants to identify design efforts that demonstrate progress toward a zero carbon, equitable, resilient and healthy built environment. More information on the Common App is included below.
For built projects, construction must have been completed within three years of the final submission deadline (Friday, February 16, 2024). For unbuilt projects, the design must be within three years of the final submission deadline (Friday, February 16, 2024).
The AIA San Francisco Design Awards program is structured into categories and concentrations. By highlighting concentrations, we aim to give special acknowledgement to projects that further encompass the values of good design within the context of Historic Preservation, Social Responsibility, Technology Excellence, and Urban Design.
With this format we hope to demonstrate that all of these disciplines explored collectively, rather than independently, strengthen the overall power and scope of architecture to help shape the built environment and enrich the human spirit.
In recognition of the importance of sustainable design, AIASF instituted a separate award category for energy and sustainability in 2003. In the last several years, the profession as a whole has transformed the way it designs, builds, and therefore the Design Awards program now incorporates the fulfillment of sustainable design principles into all categories through the Common App submission process.
At the jury’s discretion, Special Commendations may also be awarded to a project to highlight a specific successful attribute of the project that would not be recognized in any of the established categories. A Special Commendation for a project need not be accompanied by any other award or commendation for that project. Recent special commendations have recognized “urban transformation”, “commitment to community spaces”, “sustainable community infrastructure”, and “urban infrastructure enhancement”, for example.
Common App Submission Requirements + Technical Review
Download and complete the current Common App version (2023v1), then upload the document with your submission.
View the educational Webinar from AIA San Francisco’s Committee on the Environment (COTE) to learn more about how to complete the Common App.
AIASF's Design Awards program recognizes outstanding architectural design in built and unbuilt project categories. The program also recognizes the urgency of climate action given the broad impacts the built environment places on both people and planet. For these reasons, AIASF has adopted the AIA “Common App” submission form as part of the awards requirements. Successful awardees will need to demonstrate an increasingly comprehensive design approach — one that is broad and inclusive, and goes beyond building aesthetics and performance. Exemplary designs will also address issues including resilience, ecological stewardship and equity, revealing the designer’s skill and creativity in balancing formal, functional, social and technical design requirements.
Completing the Common App with metrics and narrative information about your submission will give the jury a better understanding of your design approach and basic building performance metrics.
In addition to the Design Awards jury, each submission will be reviewed by a technical panel to assess how the project addresses the various Common App categories, and how clearly the design approach is communicated via the narratives. Providing incorrect information or failing to provide information will result in a lower review score.
The Common App is aligned with the 10 principles of the AIA’s Framework for Design Excellence — a platform that helps designers evaluate progress toward a zero carbon, equitable, resilient and healthy built environment. The Design Excellence website includes questions listed under each of the 10 principles that can help you with writing the mandatory narratives requested in the Common App.
When filling out the Measure 6 – Design for Energy section, please ensure that you are entering the correct information for the EUI (Energy Use Intensity) prompts under the Energy Performance section. This information can be obtained from project energy models or LEED documentation. If you use CA Title-24 Compliance data, you will need to translate the T-24 info into a usable Common App EUI number (since T-24 uses “time dependent valuation” in its energy use calculation). Check with your T-24 engineer, or use the EUI Converter on the AIA CA website.
For Interior Architecture and Unbuilt projects, if you do not have building performance data to share, do not leave the Common App field blank. Mark “Not Available” in the fields, and briefly explain why you have left the field blank. as needed. While unavailable metrics for your Unbuilt or Interior Architecture design may be noted, completing all the descriptive and strategy narratives is still required to ensure the jury understands your approach. All built projects must provide performance data and narratives where requested on the Common App.
Redeem AXP Credit Hours
AXP candidates can receive credit hours for design competition entries. Candidates should fill out the Design Competition Verification form. This form is to certify that the AIASF Design Awards program meets the requirements of completing a design competition for AXP credit as defined in the AXP Guidelines.
For information on AXP Experience reporting, visit NCARB's AXP Guidelines.